In a recent Green Building & Design (gb&d) article, writer Brian Barth highlights the Green Sports Alliance and its impact on the growth of sustainable practices at sports venues around the United States and the world. The article details the organization’s rise from its Pacific Northwest origins to incorporate nearly 300 teams across 20 leagues in 14 different countries. In revealing this growth Barth illuminates the various ways in which sports, according to Green Sports Alliance president Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, can “leverage the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities.”
The article focuses on the three main avenues of sustainable practices promoted by the Green Sports Alliance and its member organizations. First is the importance of tracking energy and water use and waste generation. Barth uses the example of the Seattle Mariners, who have used the data collected over the past decade of sustainability tracking to push closer to their zero-waste goals. In this way, the Mariners provide a concrete example of the efficacy of tracking to accomplish greening goals.
The second shift in practices that has resulted from a redoubled focus on sustainability is venue design. As the article illustrates, teams in the MLB, MLS, the NHL, the NFL, and other member leagues have used their relationship with the Green Sports Alliance to work toward creating more efficient, lower-impact stadiums and arenas—both in terms of new stadium construction as well as retrofitted renovations that reduce the impacts of building operations.
Finally, Barth highlights the fact that sustainable practices do not require large infusions of capital to be put into motion. Looking at another Green Sports Alliance member, the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Barth shows how the home of the University of Louisville Cardinals basketball teams was able to reduce water and energy use and divert waste from landfills without an expansive budget.
“Every sports team is part of the cultural fabric of its community,” said Scott Jenkins, chairman of the Green Sports Alliance, “so we have a social responsibility that teams activate in a number of ways—it hasn’t traditionally been around climate and the environment, but it has been around education, around health, around the community. It’s hard not to make the connection [with sustainability] once you sit back and think about it.”