As we have discussed in a previous blog post, professional sports teams and venues have been working toward making themselves more sustainable. The exciting trend established in 2014, however, is that going green is becoming less extraordinary, and more the typical standard. Considering how much energy these venues have a potential of using, the sustainability measures teams and owners are taking have a huge impact on the surrounding communities and the environment.
In an article originally written for GreenSportsBlog, Lew Blaustein awards the best and the worst in various sporting categories for sustainable initiatives:
The National Hockey League was given the honor of "greenest sports league." Not only did they provide the first sustainability report issued by any North American sports league, they have a goal of off-setting 100% of all carbon-emissions this season. According to Blaustein, no other sports league, conference, or association even comes close to the sustainability measures taken by the NHL.
Levi's Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers football team, was named "greenest stadium," thanks largely to its onsite solar array and recycling of nearly 90% of all water used. Also contributing to the 'Niners accolade is their close proximity to public transportation. "Greenest team" was issued to the Ohio State Buckeyes, who hosted an impressive seven football games this year with zero-waste, (meaning over 90% of waste produced at those games was diverted from the landfill.)
On the flip side, the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi proved to be a huge missed opportunity. As explained in this Time Magazine article, Russia had bid a zero-waste Olympic Games to the IOC, a promise that surely contributed to their selection. In addition, Sochi organizers worked with the United Nations Environment Program and issued sustainability reports throughout construction. Instead, reports claim evidence of illegal waste dumping and damage to the overall biodiversity of the surrounding area.
What's the greater impact of teams going green? In addition to the obvious environmental benefits to members of the sporting world focusing on providing a sustainable venue and environmentally sound waste management practices, the social impact provided is nearly as valuable. These green teams and efficient arenas offer amazing publicity avenues to highlight means of sustainability. For instance, Levi's Stadium is set to host Super Bowl 50 in 2016. In 2014, 111.5 million people watched the super bowl. Over one hundred million people will see the beautiful home of the 49ers, including their green roof and solar panels. They will hear of the high percentage of water recycling, and close proximity to mass transit. Visitors from around the world will experience the top of the line sustainability measures taking place there and will hopefully gain enough interest to learn more into options for their own homes or businesses. All around the globe we value the sporting world, idealizing athletes and fervently following our favorite teams. Those teams using that magnification as a platform for sustainability should be recognized for their efforts.
Lew Blaustein, GreebBiz.com