The GSB Interview: Andrew Winston, Author “Green To Gold”

ANDREW WINSTON IS A GLOBALLY-RECOGNIZED EXPERT ON HOW BUSINESS CAN PROFIT FROM ENVIRONMENTAL THINKING.  HE ADVISES SOME OF THE WORLD’S LEADING COMPANIES, INCLUDING BANK OF AMERICA, HP AND PEPSI.  THE CO-AUTHOR OF GREEN TO GOLD, THE BEST-SELLING GUIDE TO WHAT WORKS–AND WHAT DOESN’T–WHEN COMPANIES GO GREEN, WINSTON SERVED AS THE SUSTAINABILITY CONSULTANT FOR US SOCCER’S BID TO HOST THE 2022 FIFA WORLD CUP.  THAT BID ULTIMATELY WENT TO QATAR.  WINSTON’S LATEST BOOK, THE BIG PIVOT (2014), WILL EXPLORE HOW CORPORATIONS CAN MANAGE THE PROFOUND CHALLENGES OF A HOTTER, SCARCER AND MORE OPEN WORLD.  GSB TALKED WITH WINSTON ABOUT THE WORLD CUP BID AND THE GREEN + SPORTS INTERSECTION.

GreenSportsBlog:  Andrew, how did you get to this place–Sustainability Consultant, Author, Speaker?

Andrew Winston:  I worked in media marketing at companies like Time, Inc. (Ed. note: I worked at Time, Inc in ad sales but not at the same time as Mr. Winston) and Viacom.  Like everyone else in the 90s it seems, I went to a “.com”, also in branding and marketing.  When that business went under, I had the chance to think about what I really wanted to do and I had a passion for environmental issues. I started looking into how business and environment overlap, looking for ways to apply my experience to help change how business operates.  I went to get a Masters at Yale in Environmental Management then wrote “Green To Gold” (2006) with Dan Esty, a professor there.  My consulting, speaking, and writing business was a natural next step.

GSB:  And what was/is your relationship to sports

AW:  Well, I grew up playing sports, tennis mostly.  And, while I don’t follow any one sport very closely, my wife and kids and I got into the Yankees wild card chase lately, which, of course, didn’t end well.  That said, while sports are fun and a great way to stay active at all ages, I’m simply struck by the incredible, over-importance society places on sports.  It’s really quite amazing when you consider that the very existence of cities like Miami are threatened within the next generation or two but many teams and athletes and fans in those areas (or anywhere) are just not interested or are completely unaware of the scale of the climate change problem.

GSB:  I know!  That’s why I’m trying to enlist LeBron James in the Climate Change fight as he plays in Miami–at least until the end of this upcoming season.

AW:  The region is in danger.  How come LeBron isn’t in the fight?  Good luck getting him engaged.

Andrew Winston

Andrew Winston

GSB:  I’m working on it.  Moving beyond LeBron, what should sports do to change things around?

AW:  Look, the opportunity is there to take the passion that surrounds sports and borrow some of it to motivate and educate fans to make smarter choices.  You can’t hit fans over the head with green, true, but you can use “soft power” to do it.  Some teams and sports leagues get it already but most don’t.  The Portland Trailblazers of the NBA get it with their support of groups that are fighting to change policy on carbon emissions, their purchase of RECS, water restoration programs, etc.  But where’s everyone else?  It’s kind of like where the corporate world was 5-6 years ago, when a few forward-thinking companies got sustainability (i.e. Patagonia) but most didn’t.  Now the number of companies that get it and are doing many of the right things is much greater.  Sports need to have such a shift–and quickly because time is not our ally.

GSB:  I’m with you.  I actually think you need to get fans into this in a big way.  What if a pro league ran a contest that incentivized the team with the greenest fans (recycling, etc) with an extra draft choice?  That’s something fans can certainly relate to even if they couldn’t care less about climate change.

AW:  Absolutely, use the power of fans towards a green end.  All elements of the sports equation, teams, leagues, fans and municipalities, need to step up.  Imagine if teams demanded of cities that green infrastructure improvements be part of their agreement to sign long term leases?

GSB:  I don’t see how a city or a stadium authority could turn that down.  Sounds like the opposite of something the City of Austin did with Circuit of the Americas F-1 racetrack–in this case the city required COTA meet stringent environmental performance standards to be allowed to build and operate.  Pivoting to your role at the Green + Sports Intersection, I wanted to ask you about your work with US Soccer on the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.  Was sustainability really a key part of the bid?

AW:  YES, it was a key component of the bid.  In fact sustainability accounted for two chapters in a bid that only contained 15 overall.  US Soccer really was on board and was including it in their marketing messages.  Travel with bio-fuels, green stadiums, and many other ideas were included in the bid.  Cities had to pitch to US Soccer to be part of the 8-12 cities that would ultimately host the matches.  And so mayors were falling all over themselves to proclaim how green they are and could be.  So we would’ve done a very good job, I’m convinced, but unfortunately Qatar got selected.

GSB:  Yeah, Qatar, which will build 8 air-conditioned, outdoor stadiums for the World Cup.  Now THAT’S green for ya!  Thank you so much for your efforts on behalf US Soccer and, more importantly, for your take on state of the Green + Sports movement.

AW: Thank you for the chance to talk about these important issues.

Elyssa Emrich Joins GreenSportsBlog As Midwest Correspondent

If GreenSportsBlog has demonstrated anything these first 5 months, it’s that the intersection of Green + Sports is becoming busier and more vibrant by the day.  There is more news and are more interesting stories out there than one person can cover.

So I am happy to announce that Elyssa Emrich has joined the GreenSportsBlog as our Midwest Correspondent.  Elyssa is based in Madison, WI and  I can’t think of a better place from which to cover the Green/Sports movement as Madison is both a hotbed of green/clean tech innovation and also is home to the University of Wisconsin Badgers.  Elyssa recently graduated from Wisconsin with a dual degree in Marketing and Management.

Elyssa

Elyssa Emrich, U. of Wisconsin ’13 (Go Badgers!), GreenSportsBlog Midwest Correspondent

 

The first step in the sports portion of Elyssa’s career was taken at the Wisconsin Athletic Department where she interned for 4 years.  Elyssa got a first hand view of the food waste challenges at sports/entertainment venues while working at Badgers football games at Camp Randall Stadium (capacity 80,321) with Guest Services. She spent her last two years at Wisconsin with the Athletic Marketing Department providing marketing support to all sports and being the primary contact for the softball and soccer programs.

Elyssa arrived at the intersection of Green + Sports through her work at the recent Green Sports Alliance Summit in Brooklyn.  She will burnish her sustainability credentials as an intern with the City of Madison Recycling Department.

I look forward to working with Elyssa.  And, in the spirit of GSB collegiality, Wisconsin has officially become GSB’s favorite Big 10 team. Until next fall, that is, when Rutgers joins the league. Then, we will have a friendly rivalry. (Ed. note: Wisconsin visits Rutgers, Nov 1, 2014.  GSB will be dark that week.) Elyssa guarantees a Wisconsin win tomorrow night at #3 Ohio State.

Please welcome Elyssa to the GSB fold.  You will be reading her work soon.  She can be reached at eemrich@uwalumni.edu.

 

Presidio Graduate School Launches Sports & Sustainability Certificate Program

Starting next fall, the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco will offer the first-ever MBA-level sustainability program focused exclusively on the sports industry.  Aside from the technical knowledge the 2-course program will impart, I think the fact of the Sports & Sustainability Certificate (S&SC) Program’s very existence demonstrates the growing importance of the Green + Sports intersection.  GSB spoke with the very busy Dr. Allen Hershkowitz (Senior Scientist at NRDC, founder of NRDC Sports Greening Project and the Director of the S&SC program) to find out more.

Green Sports Blog:  How did the S&SC program come to be?

Allen Hershkowitz: The work my colleagues at NRDC and I are doing to develop greening programs at all the professional leagues and teams has gotten a lot of notice–and positive results. As a result, I am often asked to speak around the nation, indeed around the world, on the ecological, market and cultural value of greening professional sports. Recently I was approached by the President of the Presidio, William Shutkin, who is a former NRDC staffer, and I was asked if I would develop a course focused on greening venue operations and sporting events. I had been thinking that such a course was needed to support the one-on-one approach I currently take helping team and venues. I suggested we develop a Certificate acccredidation course for sports greening and the Presidio agreed.

Presidio Biz As Unusual

GSB: What problem(s)/lack(s) will S&SC fill?

AH: There is enormous value in this Certificate program. We will draw on the enormous expertise of many venue operators and league officials with whom I have been working for years. The courses will:

  • Train sports venue operators from all over the world about how to manage their facilities in an ecologically superior way.
  • Help harmonize the procurement requests to the marketplace about environmentally oriented products, and in so doing help the marketplace respond more efficiently.
  • Embed environmental stewardship into all venues operations, which is a big deal.

GSB: If I understand this correctly, S&SC at launch will be made of up of 2 courses that can be taken as part of a Presidio MBA or separately.  If one takes the 2 courses do you get a certificate even without an MBA?  To take the courses separately, do you need to already have an MBA?

AH: You do not need an MBA to take the two courses (Sports & Sustainability + Principles of Sustainability Management). It might be that you only have to take the Sports and Sustainability class to get the Certificate, but we will be recommending the second class, Principles of Sustainability Managaement, to encourage a deeper understanding of the issue.

GSB: Is the Principles of Sustainability class a more general, sustainability-oriented course, rather than sports focused?

AH: Yes, it is not focused on sports but rather on the broader issues of understanding and implementing more sustainable practices.

GSB: S&SC will be a hybrid online/in-residence program.  How will that work?

AH: The class is only five days long, spread out over five months, one day a month. Each day will be a seven hour class. There will also be a 2 hour on-line session each month, and we are working on rasing funds to broadcast the course as an on-line course too, for which there seems to be great demand.

GSB: I would imagine that would be the case for folks not in the Bay Area!  Who will be some of the instructors/lecturers?

AH: They will be the most experienced and respected “venues greeners” in the business, including Scott Jenkins from the Seattle Mariners, Joe Abernathy from the St. Louis Cardinals,  Justin Zeulner of the Portland Trail Blazers, Mike Lynch from NASCAR, operations officials from all the leagues, executives from concessionaire Aramark, e-waste recyclers, paper industry firms, cleaning products experts, and many others.  Everyone I’ve talked to, from the instructors to prospective students, from other team/league executives to Presidio administrators, is excited about this program.

GSB: Add GSB to the list of those excited about the Sports & Sustainability Certificate program!  We will follow up as the S&SC gets closer to launch.

The GSB Interview: Andrea Learned and the Intersection of Green + Sports + Women

DO WOMEN HAVE A UNIQUE VOICE AND POINT OF VIEW TO BRING TO THE GREEN-SPORTS MOVEMENT?  IN TODAY’S GSB INTERVIEW, ANDREA LEARNED WILL TRY TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION.  ANDREA IS A LEADING SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIST (SOCIALVOICEBRANDING.COM), SPECIALIZING ON MARKETING TO WOMEN AND BUILDING SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES.  HER BOOK “DON’T THINK PINK” (2004) AND HER WORK ON SUSTAINABILITY AND CORPORATE CULTURE ARE EXAMPLES OF ANDREA’S UNIQUE STRENGTH IN UNDERSTANDING COMPLEX SOCIAL ISSUES AND THE DYNAMICS OF HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS. SHE IS A CONTRIBUTOR TO HUFFINGTONPOST, THE ATLANTIC, CSRWIRE AND GREENBIZ ANDREA IS PASSIONATE ABOUT BEING ACTIVE AND THE OUTDOORS.  ON SATURDAYS IN THE FALL ANDREA CAN BE FOUND CHEERING ON HER ALMA MATER, THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN.

Green Sports Blog:  Hello Andrea.  Tell us how you became an expert in understanding what motivates women and also you found your way to sustainability.

Andrea Learned:  Well, it all started with me working to market products targeted to women. The thing is, in my mind, women don’t need more “stuff”. But, I love understanding how women make decisions and using that knowledge to help companies and non-profits guide women towards making better, smarter choices in all areas of life. In terms of sustainability, it seems to come naturally (sorry for the pun!).  I’ve moved around a fair amount, from Portland, OR to Bellingham, WA to Burlington, VT and to Seattle, my current home.  Sustainability is central to each of these places’ DNA. While in Vermont, I noticed myself regularly giving career advice to friends – saying they should look at the cool renewable energy companies or socially responsible corporations based there. Then, I thought – wait, I should also be focusing my work on the sustainability-focused companies I am so passionate about!

GSB:  How did you act on that decision?

AL:  I got an MA in Sustainable Business & Communities, so that the term “sustainable” would be on my resume and in my LinkedIn profile.  It fell like a straight line from my women’s market focus, frankly. My thesis was “The Traits & Characteristics of Corporate Sustainability Leaders”.  In researching the thesis, I talked to a wide range of sustainability executives, all male as it turned out.  I found that the traits that lead to sustainable practices that helped make each of them so successful included empathy, communication skills and an emphasis on community… are all traits traditionally more associated with women.

Andrea-Learned-200x298

Andrea Learned, Social Strategist, Seattle

GSB: What does that mean for a more sustainable business climate in general and for sports in particular?

AL: More creative, systems-thinking and longer-term focused organizational leadership is the key.  Having more women in decision-making roles is important, for one. But, it is also important to encourage men in leadership positions to practice those qualities – like empathy in better understanding stakeholders and building community.  Scott Jenkins, Vice President of Ballpark Operations with the Seattle Mariners is a great example of this. From talking with him a few years back, it was clear that Scott engages his Ballpark Operations team from facilities to marketing as he develops a host of sustainable solutions.  Guided by his style of thinking, he has made Safeco Field a leader in the greening of sports facilities and fan-engagement.

GSB: Is it safe to say Scott has a strong feminine side?

AL: I wouldn’t put it that way, because that is not what any guy wants to be known for. It’s more that Scott has done a good job developing those traits that aren’t typically strengths for operations – and that’s extremely beneficial for his thinking about sustainability. Women might be more evolved, more practiced at expressing these traits, but we all have them. Men simply need to know that it’s more than OK to express them.  Similarly, there are traits associated with men–decisiveness, analytical thinking–that females in leadership roles need to be encouraged to practice and demonstrate – and we have seen that happen.

GSB: Are there similarities between marketing to women and marketing sustainability/green?

AL:  Definitely! When marketing to women, my motto goes along with the title of my book “Don’t Think Pink”,- meaning that a marketing approach to women should not simply be slapping on a flower or painting a site purple.  It’s much more nuanced and layered.  Culture, life stages, and daily realities influence a woman’s purchasing mind; the manner in which women buy – or “how” – is more critical than what’s being sold. The big box home stores are good examples of this – they don’t create pink aisles (even though there have been the occasional pink tools – don’t get me started on that), but they have better trained their staff and further developed their offerings to include more interior design related products and just became more relevant to how women think of DIY home projects.  

Similarly, sustainability-themed marketing efforts should not hit people over the head with green “shoulds”.  Rather, through “gamification”, and other tactics, both B2C and B2B companies are going forward with initiatives in which customers are encouraged to make green choices almost without even knowing it. They produce quality products and services that help customers become more sustainable in their practices – through things like helping further operational and energy efficiencies.  What they are doing is simply good business, but they know not to call it “green” or “sustainability” because there can be a resistance to that.  I call it “Sustainability, Hidden In Plain Sight”.  Using this approach helps sell these “greener” products or services, but their sustainability is not an obvious part of the “sell”.

GSB: How does sports fit in?

AL: Sports is actually a terrific arena (pun intended again, ARGH!) for “Sustainability, Hidden In Plain Sight” initiatives, based on its scale and it’s entertainment/fun factor (Ed. note:  ”Fun” does not apply to Cleveland sports fans).  Citizen/fan behavior can be changed in a positive way and it doesn’t matter if they see themselves as green or non-green.  If stadiums/arenas make it simple to separate food waste into recycling and composting bins, fans will do it.  If sponsors get behind a green initiative at the ballpark, fans will do it, especially if there’s an incentive involved.  After a while those changed behaviors just become the norm!  One place that is absolutely perfect for sponsored greening initiatives is college sports. Students “get” sustainability far more than their elders, and millennials will form habits in their years in college that they’ll take right on into their lives as homeowners and business professionals.

GSB: Well, now that you’ve brought up college sports, I have to ask you, what’s up with Michigan football?? I mean, they did win their last two games, but, squeaking by Akron at home and UConn on the road??

AL: Hey, in football as in sustainability, big wins are hard to come by. It’s the longer term forward momentum that we all love. Go Blue!

Progress Report: NYC’s CitiBike Share

Back in early August, GSB posted a story about the early days of CitiBike share during its early days.  Last night, Baruch College (part of the City University of New York system) and the Sustainability Practice Network (SPN) hosted a panel discussion that provided a progress report on the almost 4-month old  program.  The three main partners in the CitiBike venture were represented on the dais:

  • Justin Ginsburgh, Project Director of NYC Bike Share, LLC, the for-profit company that runs the program
  • Jon Orcutt, Policy Director at NYC Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Jon Sellman, Vice President, Consumer Marketing & Advertising at Citi, the title sponsor of CitiBike

CitiBike which is solely funded by the users and sponsors (no taxpayer dollars nor government subsidies) (Citi is paying $41 million over 6 years to be the title sponsor), launched to great fanfare and some controversy–mainly from conservative media, summarized in this clever NY Magazine piece–over Memorial Day.   So far, by most any metric, the program has been a big success–far bigger than even the three folks on the dais could’ve expected:

  • 28-29K trips per day (44K trips on August 17, the busiest day to date)
  • 6 uses/bike/day, far more than Barclay’s Cycle Hire in London and that program has been up and running for 3 years
  • Annual membership, projected to be 60K by the end of Year 1, has already surpassed 80K in 4 months.

Citibike

 

CitiBike Kiosk

GSB’s interest in CitiBike is, not surprisingly, from the sustainability/environmental/green point of view.  Sustainability was not part of any of the speakers’ presentations–their focus was on 1) showing how the program has exceeded expectations, 2) expansion plans (South Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy and Long Island City are next up, timing uncertain) (Upper East and Upper West will be in the 3rd wave so I cannot join yet), and 3) economic development aspects of the program ($36 million in economic activity, 170 new jobs, etc.).

So, when asked by GSB, if there is any data regarding CitiBike’s impact on the city’s carbon footprint (reduced cab rides taken, fewer cars into the city), Mr. Orcutt said there is none so far but that a comprehensive rider survey is being fielded now with results expected by the end of the year.  DOT and NYC BikeShare will analyze that data from a carbon footprint point of view.  That analysis will include the effect on carbon footprint of “rebalancing”–in which NYC BikeShare uses trucks to shuttle bikes around to kiosks where the supply of bikes is too small at a given time.

Rebalancing, according to Mr. Ginsburgh, is perhaps the biggest challenge facing NYC Bike Share.  The need to rebalance (when a kiosk is empty or full) is most acute during rush hours and that’s when it’s most difficult for a bike-filled truck to get from full kiosk A to empty kiosk B  (see this story about DC’s rebalancing problem).  And of course rebalancing during rush hour burns a ton of excess fuel.  NYC BikeShare is piloting a program in which cyclists will tow CitiBikes to rebalance the system.  It’s hard to visualize (how do you keep the towed bikes upright when the tower stops?) but if they can pull that off, that might be the greenest aspect of NYC BikeShare.

 

 

Follow Up To Greening F-1 Post: NASCAR Green Also Taking A Lead Role

In yesterday’s GSB Interview, Edgar Farrera, Director of Sustainability at Circuit Of The Americas, the brand new Formula 1 racetrack in Austin, TX, made a strong statement in support of the substantive and perceived benefits of greening the motorsports world.

While F-1 is a niche player for the hearts, minds and eyeballs of US motorsports fans, NASCAR is most certainly the behemoth.  Thus it’s great to notethat NASCAR Green has been taking a lead role in bringing environmental stewardship to the fore since 2008.  A piece in The Huffington Post details those efforts, from recycling to re-use of spent motor oil, which often involve NASCAR’s many corporate sponsors.  The most interesting nugget from the story to me relates to the link between the corporate sponsors and NASCAR fans:

“In a 2012 study commissioned by NASCAR and conducted by Toluna, it was shown that NASCAR fans are 100 percent more likely than non-fans to view their household as very green. This number was up from 70 percent in 2011. In 2008 (when NASCAR Green started), the number of fans and non-fans who viewed their households as very green was equal.”

This week, the NASCAR Green Summit is being held in Chicago (there sure are lots of Green Sports-related and Sports-As-Force-For-Good Summits these days!) with Al Gore featured as a Keynote Speaker.  I know VP Gore is from NASCAR-mad Tennessee but, really, who’da thunk he’d be keynoting a NASCAR-related green summit?  It is interesting to note that NASCAR, in its Gore bio, does not mention the words “An Inconvenient Truth” at all.  Here’s the part of the Gore bio where one would think they’d mention the title of the movie that won him a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar:

“He is the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary (WHAT’S IT CALLED???) and is the co-recipient, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”

Maybe I’m nitpicking here or maybe NASCAR’s not fully evolved just yet.  But it seems like they’re moving in the right direction and that’s a good thing.  We will keep an eye on F-1 and NASCAR to see how it goes.  And if I get text of Mr. Gore’s speech to the NASCAR Green Summit I’ll pass it along.

The GSB Interview: Edgar Farrera, Director of Sustainability, Circuit Of The Americas

IN DECEMBER 2011, EDGAR FARRERA BECAME SUSTAINABILITY DIRECTOR (AND EMPLOYEE #18) OF THE BRAND NEW FORMULA-1 CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS (COTA) TRACK IN AUSTIN, TX.  F-1, THE MOST POPULAR AUTO RACING CLASSIFICATION IN THE WORLD, BUT ABSENT FROM THE US FOR YEARS, DECIDED TO ESTABLISH ITS FIRST EVER SOLE-PURPOSE TRACK IN THE US HERE IN AUSTIN IN 2010.  FARRERA SPOKE WITH GSB ABOUT COTA’S SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS AND HOW MOTORSPORTS CAN FIGHT THE PERCEPTION OF GREENWASHING.

Edgar:Solar Car

Edgar Farrera, Circuit Of The America’s Sustainability Director, with Solar Powered Car from Eastern Michigan University.  It was one of 11 such cars competing at COTA’s Formula Sun, June 2013.

GreenSportsBlog:  Edgar, how did you find your way to COTA and the Sustainability Director position?

Edgar Farrera:  I started out as an architect out of University of Texas/Austin and was fortunate to get involved with the “green building” movement in the early 90s, almost by accident, as Austin was an early adopter of green-build principles.  Later, I joined a large commercial architecture firm and served as their Sustainability Director. We did a lot of aviation, federal, and military projects, and I was responsible for making sure we met all US Government sustainability standards (storm water, air quality, emissions, etc.). About 5 years ago, I decided that I wanted to be involved in sustainability full time with a facility, not just designing new green facilities. I thought I was going to end up managing sustainability for a campus or for a city.  A motorsports enthusiast, I jumped when the COTA opportunity came up as it married my experience, education and passion!

GSB:  Did you have an impact of the design of COTA?  Why wasn’t it designed for LEED Certification?

EF:  No, the design was locked in by the time I got there and the owners did not decide to go for LEED status.  As to why, I’m not certain, but the project was built under an incredibly compressed schedule and that played a role in just deciding to go forward without a certification.  But it’s important to note that I was brought in as the Sustainability Director, not as an Architect and our commitment is to make COTA the most sustainable motorsports facility in the US.

GSB:  How is COTA making good on that commitment?

EF:  The impetus to “go green” came from both COTA’s desire to address the community’s sensibilities about the environment as well as from the Host Agreement we signed with the City of Austin, related mainly to our biggest event, the US Grand Prix.  Once we signed the Agreement, we committed to a detailed set of day-to-day, sustainability-related obligations, including:

  • Recycling and Composting
  • Education events dealing with renewable energy
  • Transportation initiatives
  • Site stewardship measures including protecting critical on-site environmental features, like small ponds and a dry creek on our property

We are required to make comprehensive submissions to the City every year to demonstrate compliance (please find year 1 submission here)  In fact, the Host Agreement is so involved, it necessitated the creation of the Sustainability Director position!

GSB:  Austin sure sounds pretty green.

EF:  Oh it is.  Sustainability is a huge deal here!  In fact, it’s a topic of public policy debate. Candidates sometimes win or lose based on their environmental platform. The rest of Texas is considerably greener than the country thinks butin Austin sustainability is embraced in a very public way.  Some of our event sponsors get it too–some brands want to be associated with the sustainability aspects of COTA.  For example Michelin, very involved in “green racing”, has communicated the importance to COTA that there be full ‘resource recovery’ (i.e. composting and recycling) at their sponsored areas on site.

COFA

Aerial view, Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX

GSB:  How is COTA doing on those sustainability obligations?

EF:  We’re doing well. Our diversion rate (how much waste is diverted from landfill) of 33% for COTA controlled areas is not bad out of the gate–remember, we’ve only been open less than a year.  But, we are certainly inspired by what the Philadelphia Eagles are doing at Lincoln Financial Field and will be moving those numbers up towards their amazing 99%.  In terms of renewable energy, we’ve investigated on-site solar and wind but have not committed to it yet.  We are buying 50% of our electricity from Austin Energy’s Green Choice (similar to Renewable Energy Credits or RECS) program for non-event days

GSB:  How about buying Green Choice for 100% of your power needs on all days?

EF:  We’re looking at upping the percentage for sure.

GSB:  What about the races themselves from a sustainability perspective?

EF:  Cars in our signature event, the Formula 1US Grand Prix, use the KERS system–which stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System.  It’s kind of a very soft hybrid system in which the energy that would normally be lost as heat during braking is instead harnessed so that it can be used later to boost acceleration. Also, our recycling and composting system was put to the test and passed it at the inaugural USGP last November as we drew 117,000 people on race day and 265,000 people over the weekend.  Named “Event of the Year” by Sports Business Journal in 2012, we expect a bigger crowd this November and are confident our sustainability performance will match the performance of the drivers and cars.  This coming weekend, we are hosting both the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the American LeMans Series.  What’s interesting about these events from a sustainability perspective is that both series really push advanced green racing technologies, including allowing cars to use different advanced fuels.  Audi, which is dominant in the WEC, uses diesel-powered hybrids.  I can see a day where electric cars will play a role.  In fact, Nissan plans to race a car that can run in all-electric mode in next years event. We hosted the Formula Sun Grand Prix this June.  11 collegiate teams drove vehicles powered solely by solar panels, 8 hours a day for 3 days.  These cars are super light, with no AC (it gets very hot in Austin in June).  The team from Oregon State won by driving 658 miles with 0 emissions.  Finally, we were selected by ESPN to host the Summer X Games the next four years.  We are excited about this for many reasons; one of them is working with ESPN’s sustainability team to make the X Games at COTA the Greenest X Games yet.

GSB:  The Formula Sun Grand Prix sounds amazing.  And a greener X Games will certainly resonate with the young ESPN viewers.  One final question: I’d be remiss if I don’t ask you about greenwashing.  Meaning isn’t it an oxymoron to say that motorsports can be green?

EF:  I’ve heard this, of course.  The reason I got into this  is that we’ve got to get beyond preaching to the green choir. Beyond the folks who are green because “it’s the right thing to do”.  Motorsports (and other sports) can broaden the discussion by engaging the business community and the fans about making smart micro- and macro-choices.  Also know that the carbon footprint from the cars being driven around the race track is minimal compared to the footprint from transportation to and from the event.  Which of course is endemic to any sports or entertainment event.  The important thing is for us to do better, in terms of resource recovery, cleaner energy use, site stewardship, etc.

GSB:  While I’m not a motorsports fan I’m glad there is a sustainable/green motorsports movement and that COTA is advancing the cause (NASCAR Green shows that the stock car giant is also taking a lead role).  GSB will keep in touch to see how things progress (especially on the on-site renewable generation, diversion rate and transportation to-from fronts).

 

Beyond Sport Summit Wednesday: Beyond Courage

The 5th annual Beyond Sport Summit concluded with a day highlighted by stories of truly courageous individuals who are using sports as the vehicle to make real, positive measurable change in some of the most challenging environments/hot spots in the world.  And while most of the stories did not focus sustainability in the environmental/fight-climate change sense of the world (as Tuesday’s session did), all of them spoke about how sports plays a crucial role in sustainability in the broader sense of the word–of sustaining humanity in often hellish, inhumane conditions.

So while this GSB post will not have that much “G” (Green), the stories and the storytellers are too inspirational not to pass on:

  • Luke Dowdney fused his love of boxing (British Universities champion in 1995) with his concern for the young people in the Favelas (crime and drug infested slums) of Rio de Janeiro by starting Fight For Peace in 2000.
    • The goal:  To provide an alternative to the armed violence and drug trafficking that plagues the lives of young people in the Favelas.
    • The problem:  Globally, more young people die as a result of gun violence/drug trafficking than in conflict zones. For example, 467 children were killed between 1987 and 2001 during the Israeli/Palestine conflict. Over the same period in Rio, 3,937 children died from gun violence.
    • The methodology:  Attract and work with young people in a holistic project that combines boxing & martial arts with personal development.
    • Results:  In 13 years, Fight for Peace has transformed from a project with just ten young people to a group of international NGOs – based in Rio de Janeiro and London – which support 2,250 young people each year.

Fight For Peace

 

Luke Dowdney Fights For Peace in Rio

  • Tami Hay, Director of Sport for the Peres Center For Peace, spoke about how her organization uses soccer to fulfill its mission of mission of building an infrastructure of peace and reconciliation by and for the people of the Middle East, in particular Israel-Palestine.  Ms. Hay’s approach is to mix the teams up so Israelis and Palestinians can see, by playing together, the humanity in (and hopefully, a good pass from) the other.  It certainly isn’t easy.  Tami told the story of an Israeli boy who, when his father asked “how can you play with those animals”, said “these kids are not like the people you are talking about.  They are my friends.”  She imagines similar conversations on the Palestinian side of the Wall.

Peres Center for Peace

 

Palestinian and Israeli kids play soccer in mixed teams through the Peres Center For Peace

  • John Layfield has perhaps the most improbable story of all (and that’s saying something at Beyond Sport!):  He went from being a WWE wrestler to founding and leading Beyond Rugby Bermuda, They work with kids at two schools in Bermuda containing at risk kids who tend to get lost in society by dropping out and/or joining gangs.  The results so far are promising:  There is a 50% black Bermudian male drop out rate; after one full year of the program all 60 kids have either graduated or plan on graduating.

Beyond Rugby Bermuda

 

The lads from Beyond Rugby Bermuda, with Founder John Layfield on the far right

  • Oliver Percovich, Founder of Skateistan, followed his girlfriend to Afghanistan in 2007 from Australia with 3 skateboards.  He met a group of boys and girls eager to learn how to skate. What began as informal skateboarding lessons turned into something much bigger. Percovich perceived the lack of opportunities for young Afghans, especially girls, and realized that skateboarding was a way to engage them and build community. Skateistan quickly took shape, with the help of international donors and skateboard industry partners. In October of 2009, Skateistan Park officially opened, giving boys and girls in Kabul a secure environment and an indoor skatepark to come to every week.  Sadly, as NPR reported last year, Skateistan is not immune from the awful terrorism that plagues Afghanistan.  Despite the tragedy, Skateistan perseveres and this year, produced the first skateboards ever made in Afghanistan.  Check out this amazing 9 minute documentary short, To Live and Skate In Kabul that juxtaposes the simplicity of skateboarding with the larger, war-torn reality of Kabul.

Skateistan Park

 

Skateistan Park, Kabul, Afghanistan

 

In a future post, GSB will interview Beyond Sport’s Founder Nick Keller, with a special focus on its sustainability-from-the-environmental-POV work.  Let me know if you’re interested in reading more stories from Beyond Sport’s broader arena.

 

 

Getting To GreenSportsBlog Just Got A Little Easier

There are now two ways to get to GreenSportsBlog:

  1. The way you’ve been getting here so far, via http://greensportsblog.wordpress.com is still valid.
  2. And now, the url http://greensportsblog.com has become available so you can be more energy efficient (by using less finger-walking power) by going the shorter route.

No matter which url you choose, you will get to the intersection of Green + Sports.  Thanks for your continued support of GreenSportsBlog.

Beyond Sport Summit: Sustainability On Display At Lincoln Financial Field In South Philly

Monday, I posted an interview with Philadelphia Eagles Minority Owner Christina Weiss Lurie about their beyond groundbreaking Go Green campaign.  Yesterday, I saw Go Green up close and personal, during the Beyond Sport Summit’s Sport and Sustainability Day at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles.

Beyond Sport is a global organization dedicated to the use of sport as a significant agent of positive social change.  The Summit, which concludes today, tackles a wide variety of issues through the prism of sports, from Sustainability to Health, from Safeguarding Children to Education.

Not surprisingly I chose the Sustainability option and my reward was a day of informative panel discussions, as well as a tour of The Linc’s state-of-the-art complex.

Let’s start with the tour.  Eagles President Don Smolenski and Tom Gros, Chief Customer Officer of NRG, the developer of the Eagles on-site solar and wind installations, treated us to an up close & personal look at the largest solar and wind array in the Philadelphia area.

IMG_1937

Solar array, topped by Eagle-talon shaped wind turbines at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

Smolenski and Gros expressed both pride and humble amazement at what has been built and accomplished to date…

  • An 11,000 panel solar photovoltaic (PV) array plus rooftop wind turbines were installed on the stadium. This project took only 8 months from start to finish (that is the solar power installation equivalent of Chip Kelly’s up-tempo Eagle offense).
  • Rows upon rows of canopied carports, topped by solar panels were put up in the north parking lot.  The panels are high enough to fit RVs and buses and, perhaps most importantly, to allow most passes from tailgaters.  30% of the Eagles electricity needs are generated by the solar and wind system at The Linc.
  • The system was designed to withstand most hurricanes (it survived Sandy), earthquakes and even pyrotechnics. The Eagles have Fireworks Night and the wind turbines were designed to accommodate fireworks, perhaps a first!
  • The inverter, a big, boring block structure in the north parking lot, was converted into a canvass on which a schematic was painted.  It shows fans how solar power works. The inverter plays a key part in the solar power story, converting the DC current generated by the panels to useable AC.  
  • More fan education, via signage adjacent to a walkway traversed by thousands of fans on game day. 

…but they emphasized they are at the beginning of a long journey that will include a new focus on water conservation, electric car charging, and increasing fan engagement.

  IMG_1941

Carports, topped by solar panels in the North Lot 

 

From NRG’s point of view, this is not only a Philadelphia Story.  It provides on-site electricity generation and other clean energy services for 8 of the most high profile NFL teams/stadiums, including Washington Redskins/FedEx Field, New England Patriots/Gillette Stadium, and the New York Giants and Jets/MetLife Stadium. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49′ers starting next season, will be NRG’s 8th NFL stadium and will be the league’s first LEED Certified facility. 

Levi's Stadium

Artists rendering of Levi’s Stadium (Field of Jeans?), Santa Clara, CA

NRG, which still generates most of its power from fossil fuels, is also the leading green energy producer in the US. It is firmly planted at the intersection of Green + Sports.  I will delve into the company’s role in this space in future posts.

IMG_1944

The Eagles/NRG renewable energy story is told via signage on the fan walkway.  20,000-30,000 fans walk by on game day.

Turning to the panel discussions, here are several observations:

  • It’s great to be at an event with the Eagles the day after they open the season with a resounding road victory at division rival Washington on Monday Night Football (cue the MNF music!).  In fact, the whole city of Philadelphia (at least the folks I passed by on my walk to the conference) seemed to be wearing a big smile the morning after Iggles 33, Redskins 27.
  • Philadelphia’s pro sports teams collaborate a great deal on sustainability-related issues.  This has to be due, at least in part, to the fact that Philly is unique among US cities in that all of its sports stadia/arenas are in the same complex (Citizen’s Bank Park, home of the Phillies; Wells Fargo Center home of both the 76’ers and the Flyers, and The Linc are all across the street from each other).  Whatever the reasons, the first panel of the day, which featured executives from the Flyers, Phillies, Spectrum Events (the company that manages Wells Fargo) as well as the City of Philadelphia’s Sustainability Director, demonstrated that the teams both cooperate and compete (in a friendly manner) to move the green ball forward.
  • Brandon Igdalsky, General Manager of Pocono Racetrack, 90 minutes up the road and a world apart from Philadelphia, credited the Eagles Go Green campaign for motivating him and his team to embrace sustainability.  In fact, he said that Pocono has the largest number of solar panels of any facility in Pennsylvania, not the Eagles.  Have no fear, dear readers; GSB will get to the bottom of this issue!
  • I met an amazing young woman from Seattle, Kona Shen.  Ms. Shen spoke powerfully about the non-profit she founded, GOALS HaitiGOALS uses soccer to engage rural Haitian youth in community work and education that improve quality of life and develop new leadership.  Now that sounds great but it reads kind of flat.  That’s why Kona Shen will be a subject of a future GSB Interview that will, I’m sure, bring GOALS Haiti to life.

What a memorable day—one that left me more bullish than ever about the power of the intersection of Green + Sport.  Please visit GSB Thursday for more from Beyond Sport.