When Vestas 11th Hour Racing set off to race around the world, they also set off on a mission to be the most sustainable team to ever compete in the Volvo Ocean Race, backed by the support of their two co-title partners Vestas and 11th Hour Racing. ‘Leading Sustainability,’ the team’s summary video of their efforts to accomplish this goal, reveals what it takes to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of a professional sports team, how this shared mission brought the team together, and how they addressed sustainability in the face of adversity.
Some key sustainability accomplishments of Vestas 11th Hour Racing in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race:
The team calculated and offset their carbon footprint of 1218 tonnes of CO2 emitted. The offset will be carried out through Seagrass Grow, a program of the Ocean Foundation. It is estimated that seagrass is up to 35x more effective than Amazonian rainforests in their carbon uptake and storage abilities. Vestas 11th Hour Racing is the first Volvo Ocean Race team to track and offset their carbon footprint.
Through their legacy project with 11th Hour Racing, the team awarded $120,000 in grant funding to local environmental organizations ($10,000 at each stopover) to support and raise awareness to the incredible efforts happening worldwide to restore ocean health. (See Route Map below with names of organizations.)
By adopting Meatless Mondays, the team reduced their carbon footprint by 2.72 tonnes and prevented the use of 671,000 liters of water. These actions not only helped the team reduce their water usage and carbon footprint, but it helped them raise awareness of this global movement. In fact, if you eat just one less burger per week, over the course of a year, it’s the same as driving 320 miles less in your car.
92% of the team’s accommodations were within walking, biking, or public transport distance from the race villages. This careful planning enabled the team to reduce their reliance on cars and taxis as well as their overall carbon footprint.
99,300 people visited the public Exploration Zone in the team base, learning about renewable energy, ocean science, the circular economy, and microplastic pollution. Additionally, over 550,000 people viewed the team’s sustainability-focused videos on social media
The team was able to achieve a 74% diversion rate (62% recycling 13% composting) meaning that only 26% of their waste went to the landfill. By comparison, according to the World Economic Forum, Germany has the highest recycling rate in the world at 56%.
The team removed 212 kilos of trash from beaches. Combined with the 2.1 tons of abandoned fishing gear that will be removed from the ocean by 11th Hour Racing’s grantee Healthy Seas, the team will compensate for the waste they sent to landfill, and for the rig and sails lost overboard during their dismasting in the Southern Ocean.
The new environmental technology is BluEco Liquid Crystalline Turbex. This revolutionary management system helps produce pure water and clean indoor air. There is also an economic benefit to the technology because there is a reduction in energy costs.
Overall comfort is expected to improve as well. As players adjust to the new technology, there is a possibility that the overall performance could be enhanced as the ice is clearer, harder, more dense and has less impurities. Staples Center meanwhile used the BluEco Liquid Crystalline Turbex as part of a pilot project for the 2017-18 National Hockey League season.
The environmental technology is part of the Kings’ and NHL’s mandate to promote environmentalism, conservation and sustainability. The Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns one half of the Los Angeles Kings, has promoted environmental initiatives in the past, and are strong supporters of the BluEco Technology Group. The LA Galaxy, who are completely owned by AEG, won the Environmental Innovator of the Year Award at the Green Sports Alliance’s Game Changer Awards in Sacramento on June 28, 2017 for their efforts in saving water, conserving energy and reducing pollution.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced a new initiative with Arizona State University to further sustainability efforts during the new spring season.
The MLB is partnering with the university’s School of Sustainability to implement and assess new initiatives throughout the Cactus League.
The pilot project will take place at the Salt River Fields stadium, which hosts both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies during their spring training schedule.
The stadium will be the focus of a new ‘Recycle Rally’, designed to reduce landfill and test zero waste strategies. Students from the school will determine how Salt River Fields can adopt waste diversion practices, such as recycling, reusing and composting. It will also engage fans with activities and challenges during games to raise awareness of the impacts of waste.
“This is a perfect partnership for ASU’s School of Sustainability,” said Christopher Boone, Dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, “One of our core purposes is to use our expertise and innovation to create meaningful change in our community – and ultimately, nationally and globally too. We are thrilled to be able to let our faculty and students apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world setting and help the Cactus League aim for the ambitious goal of zero waste.”
Colorado Rockies Executive Vice President, Greg Feasel, commented: “We are very proud that this partnership with ASU and MLB will educate us and further minimize the environmental impact of the entire Salt River Fields complex, making an already LEED Gold Certified facility even better”.
The two organisations will also visit 10 other ballparks during the 2018 season to document their own waste systems and see how they can be improved. MLB is also working on a separate freshwater restoration campaign called Change the Course, to offset 100 percent of water usage in the Cactus League. This will hopefully see five million gallons of freshwater restored in areas of Arizona with especially depleted rivers and streams. The issue is of vital importance in a state where over half of the area is deemed to be in severe drought.
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