The Green-Sports movement not only grew in 2014, it matured. Yes, the growth came from new LEED Certified stadia/arenas and from many more Zero-Waste games. Maturity comes from the fact that greening is increasingly the rule rather than the exception. With this maturity comes responsibility. In 5T Sports Blog’s case, our responsibility is to offer our readers a Best/Worst of Green-Sports, 2014.
While this is our first run at calling out these examples, we’d appreciate your feedback. Maybe next year we can entice
GREENEST SPORTS LEAGUE
The National Hockey League (NHL) broke new ground with the issuance of the first-ever sustainability report sanctioned by a North American sports league. You really should read it. The report is rigorous–it measured the league’s CO2 footprint from Scope 1 (direct), Scope 2 (indirect) and even some hard-to-get-at Scope 3 (other indirect) emissions, like NHL League and Club business air travel, as well as waste disposal at NHL arenas and offices. And, as the saying goes, “what gets measured gets managed”: Measured league Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions declined 28% from the 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 season!
GREENEST NEW STADIUM
While the 49ers have been a disappointment on the field, at least that less than stellar play has taken place at our Greenest New Stadium. Levi’s Stadium, the club’s new LEED Gold home in Santa Clara, which opened in August, gets major plaudits for its green roof, recycling 86% of its water, on-site solar, access to mass transit and many other greening features. That greenness, which has set the bar for all new stadia going forward, will be on display for the world to see when Levi’s Stadium hosts Super Bowl 50 in February, 2016.
BEST TEAM ON AND OFF (GREENING-WISE) FIELD
Ohio State University (or, to Buckeyes fans, THE Ohio State University) will play in the first-ever college football playoffs on New Year’s Day vs. Alabama. That is a big deal. Perhaps an even bigger deal (or to Buckeyes fans, a close second) is that Ohio State’s 7 home football games this season were all Zero-Waste –which means they diverted 90% or more of the waste from the landfill, produced by over 106,000 fans at Ohio Stadium (aka The Horseshoe).
LEAST GREEN NEW STADIUM PROJECT
What were the Atlanta Braves thinking? I’m not talking about the artist’s rendering of their planned new stadium, SunTrust Park, scheduled to open in 2017, showing the Braves losing on the scoreboard (http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/page/instantawesome-atlantabraves-141215/new-renderings-future-atlanta-braves-stadium-accidentally-show-braves-losing). Honest mistake, that.
No, what garners the Braves this unwanted but deserved award is that the club decided to buck the trend of building stadia and arenas in urban areas, close to mass transit. Instead, they are moving to the suburbs, in Cobb County northeast of downtown Atlanta, next to the confluence of two already super-crowded highways, I-85 and I-285. There will be bus access to the new ballpark and maybe a trolley line. Unfortunately, the MARTA light rail system does not go anywhere near the stadium. When one considers that transportation is, by far, the largest source of carbon emissions associated with sports events, one has to think that Braves management either didn’t factor sustainability/the environment into their decision on the stadium site. Or they did think about it and decided it’s not a big deal. I’m not sure which is worse.
And the thing is, the club’s current downtown home, Turner Field, is at least somewhat close to a MARTA line . It is a 20-minute walk from the closest stop to the ballpark, true. But there are frequent shuttles that take fans to the stadium from the station.
If the Braves were interested in greening, they would’ve built their new stadium closer to MARTA, not further away. But greening seems not to be part of their stadium site calculation, or, to be part of any of the club’s calculations, as there is nothing about sustainability on their new stadium website. Wait, they do list “lack of consistent mass transit” as a reason for leaving Turner Field, yet they go to a place where there are fewer mass transit options (maybe they are more reliable? Who knows). Yikes! The Braves clearly have earned their LEAST GREEN NEW STADIUM PROJECT designation!
SPORTS GREENWASH OF THE YEAR
The Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia this February easily won this award. The Sochi Organizing Committee and their enablers at the IOC made grand proclamations about the greenness of the Games in the run up to the Opening Ceremonies. The reality? Uh, well, let’s just say if the Sochi Olympics were green, I’d hate to see what a brown Olympics would’ve looked like.
BEST GREEN SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR
The Greening of Forest Green Rovers (FGR), a soccer/football club in England’s 5th level (the baseball equivalent would be A-League or Rookie League ball) is not the Biggest Green Sports Story of the Year but it’s certainly the Best. Club Chairman and “Zerocarbonista” Dale Vince also owns Ecotricity, an innovative clean energy/energy efficiency company based in Stroud, England.
Vince has taken Ecotricity’s disruptive, anything-green-is-possible ethos and applied it to the operations of FGR . From the first ever meat-free concessions menu in sports to searching for lighting technologies more efficient than LEDs, from the world’s first organic pitch/field to electric vehicles for all of the players, Vince and FGR are demonstrating that what the sports world thought was green is not green enough. Going forward, Vince is looking to take the FGR approach to bigger clubs. That’s a story for 2015. For 2014, Vince and Forest Green Rovers is, without doubt, the Best Green Sports Story of the Year.
And a shout-out to Dr. David Suzuki, whose incredible Blue Dot Tour inspired the citizens across Canada to ‘engage’ on behalf of our common future. Perhaps we can enlist him as a presenter next year — or as the model for the ‘5T Greenies’ Award Statuettes …….
When the New Orleans’ Hornets were presented with an opportunity to rebrand and rename the Crescent City NBA franchise, they had a rich palette of choices (Krewe, Brass, Cajuns, Blues among others). And while a few of us initially scratched our heads at the choice of ‘Pelicans’, a closer look reveals why the moniker was the most meaningful and authentic decision they could have made.
Managing the lighting at a sports stadium or arena is one of the most important facets of a venue Operations Manager’s job. Its performance has to be stellar. It represents a cost that is significant that needs to be minimized. And it is a major factor in a venue’s Greening (or not). LED lights, which are both high performing and energy efficient, initially faced a slow adoption curve in the industry due to high costs. But, as the cost curve is moving down, more venues are making the switch to LEDs.
“To solve the serious environmental problems facing our planet, we need to shift our culture toward more sustainable practices. Sports are hugely influential and can play a significant role in causing a ‘green’ ripple effect of enormous proportions, encouraging industries and consumers alike to improve the choices they make every day.” Billie Jean King, 4-time US Open Singles Champion; Member, World Tennis Hall of Fame.
The biggest news in college sports in 2014-2015 will no doubt be the brand new 4-team playoff system at the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) level. Another story that merits significant attention is that the Zero-Waste Movement (i.e. diverting 90% or more of waste from landfill via recycling and composting) is gaining real traction at stadia and arenas across the country. We take a look at 3 schools moving towards the Zero-Waste route this season:
With the 2014 FIFA World Cup in a two day break between an exhilarating Round of 16 (great run, USA; congratulations to Belgium on a well-deserved win) and the Quarterfinals, which start Friday, 5T Sports takes a look at the upcoming games through a green lens, matching up the teams based on the greenness (or lack thereof) of their soccer stadia.
A major pillar of 5T Sports’ business is to help Minor League Baseball clubs save money and engage their fans by operating more “greenly”/efficiently. With that in mind, we’re starting an occasional blog series that will highlight some of the great green strides minor league clubs are taking. Leading off are the Spokane (WA) Indians, the Class A Short Season affiliate of the Texas Rangers. They have taken a measured, decade-long approach to greening their operations. While they still have a way to go in their “greening journey”, significant progress has been made, for the environment, the bottom line and the fans. 5T Sports spoke with Spokane Indians co-owner Andy Billig about where they’ve been, sustainability-wise, and where they are going.
This Sunday, the English Premier League (EPL), the world’s most popular soccer league, concludes its season with the championship still in the balance. Fans the world over will be glued to their TVs to see whether Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City bring home the crown (ManCity is in the driver’s seat as of this writing). Aston Villa is at the other end of the EPL spectrum, barely above the dreaded “relegation zone” (each year, the teams that finish in the bottom 3 of the 20 team league get “relegated” to the league below the EPL). But, Villa is at/near the “top of the table” in terms of the EPL’s environmental sustainability rankings.