The GSB Interview: Geert Hendriks, International Academy of Sports, Science and Technology

Switzerland, the hub of European, and in some sense, world sports, is also upping its Green-Sports game. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), headquartered in Lausanne, has made sustainability a key pillar of Olympic Agenda 2020. Last summer, UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, housed in Nyon, hosted one of the most sustainable mega-sports events ever, EURO 2016. And FIFA, which resides in Zürich, is making green strides as well. To get a better sense of the Green-Sports scene on the Continent, GreenSportsBlog spoke with Geert Hendriks, Head of Projects for AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology), located in Lausanne. And, as a bonus and in the interest of broadening the sporting horizons of our readers, we get into GSB’s first-ever discussion of the sport of Korfball. 

 

GreenSportsBlog: Switzerland is certainly the place to be for European sports. Before we get into European Green-Sports, first tell us a bit about the International Academy of Sports Science and Technology, or AISTS, and also how you got there.

Geert Hendriks: Sure! AISTS was founded by the IOC, along with several leading Swiss educational institutes and the city of Lausanne. It has been in existence since 2000—I joined in 2012.  Its mission is to bring a positive contribution to the management of sport through education, consulting and a platform of connections. In terms of sustainability, we look at it as an investment, not a cost. This certainly fits in with my ethos and professional background. It sounds cliché but, really, I was meant to do this work. Before AISTS I worked in information management in the world of Emergency Relief. And before that, I worked in the banking industry…

HENDRIKSGeert

Geert Hendriks, Head of Projects at AISTS (Photo credit: AISTS)

 

GSB:…Ergo “investment”…

GH: Correct. My academic training was in Business Administration, Information Management and Sport Management. And I’m a sportsman of sorts, with korfball being my main sport.

GSB: Korfball? Uh, what the heck is THAT?

GH: It’s a combination of basketball and netball that’s played with men and women simultaneously. It’s big in the Netherlands and played in 65 – 70 other countries, including Switzerland; it’s an IOC recognized sport.

Korfball with kids 2015

Korfball clinic managed by IOC in 2015. (Photo credit: Hawley MacLean)

 

GSB: I could also ask you “What the heck is netball?” but I won’t get into that. I cannot believe there is an IOC recognized sport I’m unaware of. But korfball, which sounds fun, is for another day. Let’s get back to your work with AISTS. Talk about how sustainability fits in.

GH: AISTS incorporates Open Modules in its list of annual activities, one of them being a 2-day course on sustainability in sport and events that debates the current issues, challenges and opportunities. At the last edition, Allen Hershkowitz, former President of the Green Sports Alliance, presented to the participants, as did Omar Mitchell, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility at the National Hockey League. We’ve had the Head of Sustainability from the IOC, as well as speakers from FIFA, Formula E and Coca-Cola.

AISTS Debate

Omar Mitchell (l)  and Allen Hershkowitz (2nd from left) on a panel at AISTS’ Open Module course in March. (Photo credit: AISTS)

 

GSB: I understand AISTS had its most recent course in late March. How did it go?

GH: It went very well. We had 50 people in the room: 35 people who participate in our Master of Advanced Studies in Sport Administration as well as about 15 external people from the industry that attended the course. This group of externals includes professionals from the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), Federation of Gay Games, Formula E as well as from several corporates.

GSB: That sounds like a good mix. What were some of the topics that were discussed?

GH: The need to use sustainability in sport as a driver for the strategic objectives of your organization. Sustainability is no longer an add-on. Bartel Berkhout of Nyenrode University in the Netherlands, in his presentation about sustainable leadership, talked about “sustainability being the new normal”. This is already common in business; so it should be in sport.

GSB: Of course I agree. Now, it seems to me that Green-Sports is in its 2.0 or 3.0 phase. The first phase was greening the games: LEED certified stadiums, recycling and composting, and more. 2.0 is fan engagement. That’s starting to happen. But phase 3.0, perhaps the most important, is engaging the media on Green-Sports. Because if Green-Sports is only taking place at the stadiums and arenas and is not broadcast and streamed to the much bigger audiences who follow the games but don’t attend them, then Green-Sports won’t scale. Was the intersection of Green, Sports and the Media discussed?

GH: Not in a dedicated session. However it was brought up at one of the panels by one of the participants, a former employee of NBC Universal. She acknowledged the importance of the gap between greening on the grounds and the lack of coverage during the games. This is something we will be covering more intently as time goes on.

GSB: Beyond the course, what are some of AISTS most important Sustainability-in-Sport initiatives?

GH: AISTS jointly developed the Sustainable Sport & Events Toolkit with the organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This SSE Toolkit is an online how-to-guide for sustainable sport events, and is used by cities and organizers of medium size sport events across the world. It includes some basic training-modules and almost 200 examples and best practices.

Furthermore, we work with many international sports federations and event organizers, using our expertise to implement sustainability programs, write case studies and report on their impact. During the Rio 2016 Olympics, we worked with the organizing committee on capturing easy-to-understand and concrete examples of good sustainability practices. A set of 16 case studies were published in a small booklet, including the innovative waste management program of the NBA House, the energy savings of the Tokyo 2020 House and many more.

We also work with the city of Richmond (Vancouver), supporting the greening of local sport and community events, offering practical tools to help local event organizers.

GSB: Where does AISTS’ funding come from?

GH: From three sources: 1. Fees for our Educational Programs, including a full-time Masters in Sport Administration track. Right now, we have 35 people from 24 countries participating in this program. 2. Project fees from our work with international sport organizations. And 3. We receive a modest financial contribution from our eight founding partners.

GSB: How have the sports federations and governing bodies gone about engaging fans?

GH: Ah, well, fan engagement on sustainability is the million-dollar-question, isn’t it? There is no easy answer, it depends on the culture, the sport, the media, and probably a few more things. In general, many federations that are doing good work, find it difficult to communicate that engagement to their fans.

GSB: Difficult or maybe they fear the politics of green…If that’s the case, I think that fear is misguided.

GH: Regardless, I would say that in general, the nature of that communication has to be simple, factual, credible, not too “rah, rah”, relevant, and fun, somehow. In my opinion, Formula E has hit the sweet spot in a high profile fashion. It’s fun, great to watch and it is sustainable sport in action.

GSB: I’ve never been to Formula E—will have to check it out. In the meantime, I do believe that fan engagement is the next big hill for the Green-Sports movement to climb and expect that AISTS will be leading some of those climbs.

 


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GSB News and Notes: Self-Driving Buses at 2018 Winter Olympics; Reebok Pioneers Plant-Based Footwear; Vestas, Leader in Wind, Teams with 11th Hour Racing to Bring Sustainability Message to Volvo Ocean Sailing Race

Innovation is fast becoming a Green-Sports watchword and it undergirds today’s GSB News & Notes: PyeongChang, South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be the first to feature self-driving buses. Reebok will bring plant-based footwear to the market later this year. And Vestas, the only global energy company dedicated solely to wind, partners with 11th Hour Racing to bring a forward-looking sustainability message to the 2018 Volvo Ocean Sailing Race.

 

 

SELF-DRIVING BUSES AT PYEONGCHANG 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS

South Korean telecommunications company KT Corporation plans to launch its next generation 5G cellular network in 2019. The Official Telecommunications Provider of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang will use the quadrennial event to pilot the new technology. State-of-the art cell phones, 22nd century virtual reality devices and drone deliveries are only some of the 5G applications that will be on display at the Games.

In concert with the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and partner companies Samsung Electronics, Ericsson, Nokia and Intel; KT Corporation will unveil self-driving shuttle buses in PyeongChang during the Games.

KT Corp

Self-driving shuttle bus from KT Corporation will be featured during PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in South Korea. (Photo credit: KT Corporation)

 

Per a story by Yoon Sung-won in the Korea Timesthe self-driving buses were tested Tuesday (Monday in the US) at an event in snowy PyeongChang. “The bus was connected to a control center through the 5G network at the venue and drove itself through a short route. It automatically stopped as a car appeared in front of it and slowed down over a slippery road covered with snow.”

The driverless shuttles, which will bring fans, staff and media from the city center to a variety of Olympics venues, are projected to reduce energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and accidents vs. their human-driven counterparts.

 

REEBOK TO MAKE SHOES FROM “THINGS THAT GROW”

The athletic shoe and apparel industries are bringing innovative Green-Sports products to market at a breakneck pace. Nike’s new FlyKnit shoes cut waste by 80 percent. adidas recently-launched UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneakers are made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste.

Reebok, a division of adidas, will join the greening fray by bringing plant-based footwear to the market later this year; an initiative the company says will create shoes that are “made from things that grow.” The first release will be a shoe that has an upper, the part that goes over the top of the foot, comprised of organic cotton and a base originating from industrially-grown corn (a non-food source). Reebok is partnering with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products to create the “Cotton + Corn” shoes.

Reebok

Prototype of Reebok Cotton + Corn sneakers, made of plant-based materials. (Photo credit: Reebok)

 

The Cotton + Corn initiative impacts all three phases of the product lifecycle in textbook “Cradle to Cradle” fashion. In the development phase, Reebok uses materials that grow and can be replenished, rather than the petroleum-based materials used today. When the product hits the market, the company has ensured consumers that they won’t have to sacrifice performance and style. Finally, the plant-based materials in the the shoes are compostable at the end of the lifecycle. Reebok says it will take back used sneakers and compost them to grow the materials for the next batch of shoes.

Cotton + Corn

 

Bill McInnis, head of Reebok Future, told Environmental Leader’s Jennifer Hermes on April 5 that the plant-based shoes will be a bit more expensive to create at first than their traditional rubber, polyurethane, and synthetic rubber counterparts: the company is using new materials that it has not used previously and the small quantities at launch limit economies of scale.

The Reebok Future team has been at work on this concept in various forms for over five years. According to McInnis, its focus is on “making more sustainable products and minimizing our environmental impact” that don’t compromise on quality so consumers will not be forced to choose between style, comfort and the environment.

The price of the shoes has not yet been disclosed, according to Boston Business Journal.

 

VESTAS AND 11TH HOUR RACING TEAM UP TO BRING SUSTAINABILITY TO VOLVO OCEAN SAILING RACE

Global wind power company Vestas recently announced a partnership with 11th Hour Racing, to bring a strong sustainability message to the ’round the world 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race by their sponsorship of the American duo of Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. Before that, 11th Hour Racing, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation which establishes strategic partnerships within the sailing world to promote systemic change for the health of our marine environment, will put sustainability front and center at this summer’s America’s Cup in Bermuda via its sponsorship of Land Rover BAR, the British entrant.

Enright Towill Billy Weiss VOR

Charlie Enright and Mark Towill will bring their sustainability message around the world in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, with the support of Vestas and 11th Hour Racing. (Photo credit: Billy Weiss/VOR)

 

The Vestas-11th Hour Racing-Enright-Towill campaign is a unique platform for the Danish company to promote its vision, which is to be the global leader in sustainable energy solutions.

“Our partnership with 11th Hour Racing sends a very strong signal with two leading players within sustainability combining forces to promote sustainable solutions within wind and water,” said Vestas President and CEO Anders Runevad.

Wendy Schmidt, 11th Hour Racing Co-Founder and President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, added: “Mark and Charlie have been serving as ambassadors for 11th Hour Racing for the past two years, having witnessed first hand during the last Volvo Ocean Race the many ways pollution and plastic debris are destroying ocean life and threatening all of us. Our partnership with Vestas is about inspiring positive change in the way we think about energy and the natural resources of the planet.”

The Vestas-11th Hour Racing sustainability message will start its circumnavigation of the globe with Enright and Towill when the race departs Alicante, Spain in late October. They then will travel 45,000 nautical miles with stops at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before the finish in The Hague.

Volvo Ocean Race Map

Map of 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race (Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 


 

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Green-Sports Corporate All Stars: Johnson Controls Helps Green Pro Football Hall of Fame; Aquafil Makes Fibers for 100 Percent Recyclable Swimsuits and Jerseys

GreenSportsBlog’s occasional series, “Green-Sports Corporate All Stars” highlights companies that are taking taking the lead at the intersection of Green + Sports. The first centered on adidas and Patagonia. Today’s second installment features energy efficiency leader Johnson Controls partnering with the Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF) as it expands from its current museum and football stadium footprint into a never-seen-before “football village,” and Aquafil, the Italian company that manufactures ECONYL®, a 100 percent regenerated yarn used in swimsuits and athletic wear.

JOHNSON CONTROLS HELPS GREEN NEW PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME VILLAGE GREEN

When Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker and Stu Lichter, President and Chairman of the Board of Industrial Realty Group, began formulating plans to turn the Canton, OH based museum and football stadium into a village that will include a hotel, retail, medical center, and much more, Johnson Controls was a logical energy efficiency partner. The Milwaukee-based company:

  • Is a global leader in intelligent building design, efficient energy solutions, integrated infrastructure and next generation transportation systems
  • Has significant experience working on high profile, energy efficiency projects, such as the Empire State Building’s massive retrofit that resulted in a 38 percent energy usage reduction.
  • Has worked with the Hall of Fame for many years.

“When the Hall of Fame undertook its last major renovation in 2010, we were hired to do the environmental systems work,” said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, Johnson Controls’ Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, “In addition to energy efficiency advances, part of our mission-critical work helped to protect the archives and artifacts through humidity controls and temperature monitoring. As big as that project was, the Hall of Fame Village is a much bigger undertaking.”

Kim Metcalf-Kupres

Kim Metcalf-Kupres,Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Johnson Controls (Photo credit: Johnson Controls)

 

The $600 million, 9-component^ Village project, currently in the design and strategy phases, is set become the world’s first-ever sports and entertainment “smart city.” Johnson Controls is providing its building management systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, fire and security systems and other technologies. The result will be significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and energy efficiency improvements. LEED certification will be sought—the level it will achieve is not yet known.

Johnson Controls, while primarily a B-to-B brand, understands the hold the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have on the American people. Thus it is not only helping to green and provide state of the art technology to the Hall of Fame Village, it is also putting its name on it.

Thus the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village is the company’s first foray into title sponsorship and “will be a powerful marketing and business building for us as it showcases the benefits of a smart, connected, energy efficient, sustainable village for fans, customers and prospective customers.” said Ms. Metcalf-Kupres. “We want our name to be more known, more visible to consumers as the market for smart, efficient buildings grows. And as that happens, our ability to help our customers lead on sustainability, efficiency and climate change will also grow.”

Hall of Fame Village Pro Football HOF

Artist’s rendering of the Johnson Controls Pro Football Hall of Fame Village (Credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame)

 

The way Pro Football Hall of Fame President Baker sees it, Johnson Controls’ is an ideal teammate for the Village project: “The Pro Football Hall of Fame stands for excellence—and so does Johnson Controls, with its leadership from energy efficient lighting to shades that keep heat in during the winter and help keep the building cool in the summer and more.”

 

AQUAFIL’S 100 PERCENT REGENERATED YARNS BECOME ATHLETIC APPAREL WITH ECONYL®

Giulio Bonazzi is a man on a mission.

The Chairman and CEO of Aquafil, manufacturer of yarns for apparel and carpet since opening its doors in 1970, believes humanity has no time to waste as far as making serious reductions in climate change producing carbon emissions is concerned. That is why his company, headquartered in Trento in Northern Italy, has made improving performance on emissions and resource consumption central to its DNA.

Bonazzi G Headshot

Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO of Aqaufil (Photo credit: Aquafil)

 

“We are, in effect, a chemical plant, one that is located near Lake Garda, one of Italy’s beautiful lakes, and the source of much of region’s water and energy—over 80 percent of which comes from hydro power. We have always realized that we need to keep the lake, the region and the planet clean and to do so, we have to innovate with sustainability at top of mind.”

Aquafil’s signature climate change fighting innovation is the ECONYL® Regeneration System, launched in 2011. ECONYL® yarn is made from Nylon 6, which, according to Mr. Bonazzi, “has a special characteristic that allows it to be regenerated into raw material through de-polymerization. This means you end up with a 100 percent virgin polymer. Nothing is degraded; all of the characteristics are at 100 percent quality.”

This would be a great story in and of itself, but remember, ECONYL® is a system as well as a yarn product

What makes it a system is that the Nylon 6 is produced from 100% regenerated waste materials, such as:

  • Pre-Consumer Waste: Scraps generated from the production of Nylon 6.
  • Post-Consumer Waste: Fishing nets and fluff (the top part of carpets and rugs).

Aquafil_Nets

Fishing nets retrieved from the ocean become raw materials for Aquafil’s Nylon 6 based ECONYL® product (Photo credit: Aquafil)

 

The ECONYL® yarn is manufactured at a dedicated regeneration plant in Slovenia, and then sold to a wide variety of apparel and carpet makers.

Athletic apparel companies are big consumers of ECONYL®. adidas uses it for its Parley swimwear line which was featured in GreenSportsBlog last month. “Parley” refers to adidas’ partnership with nonprofit Parley for the Oceans, which is dedicated to reducing the massive amounts of plastic waste in the oceans. Not to be outdone, Speedo sends its post-production scraps to Aquafil, which recovers the Nylon 6 for manufacture into ECONYL®. Even surfing legend Kelly Slater uses ECONYL® in Outerknown, his line of sustainable swimwear and outerwear. And Volcom uses ECONYL® in its new “Simply Solid” women’s swimwear line, launched last November. The tagline? “Caught Up In A Good Thing.”

 

Surfing legend Kelly Slater describes his/Outerknown’s partnership with ECONYL®

 

 

VOLCOM CAUGHT_UP_LIFESYYLE_3_LOWRES (1)

Volcom “Caught Up in a Good Thing” print ad (Courtesy of Volcom)

 

“Sports and active apparel represents more than 50 percent of our ECONYL® business and the business is growing precisely because of its green properties,” reported Mr. Bonazzi, “And perhaps the most important statistic of all is that ECONYL® yarn has about 80 percent lower global warming potential than standard nylons.”

What about calcio, as soccer is called in Italy, and ECONYL®? “The clubs in Serie A, the top league in Italy, make their jerseys from polyester, as it is cheaper, at least for now,” acknowledged the Aquafil CEO, “Napoli F.C. is making its jerseys from a polypropylene that is better than polyester for the environment but there is much room for improvement. Before we get to Serie A, we see the skiing and cycling apparel markets as strong opportunities for ECONYL®. Right now, Aquafil is the 10th largest nylon fiber maker in world. We expect to move up, thanks to ECONYL® in the sports and apparel markets and also the carpet market, where we are a big player.”

 

 

 

^ The Hall of Fame Village’s 9 components are: Hall of Fame Museum, Tom Benson Stadium (where the annual Hall of Fame Game will be played), 4 Star hotel and Conference Center, Main Street Hall of Fame Village and Retail, Center for Excellence, Performance Center (another football stadium plus basketball arena), Legends Landing (independent and assisted living for Hall of Famers and other NFL legends), National Football & Youth Sports Complex, and the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Experience.

 


 

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The GSB Interview: Sheila Nguyen, Executive Director, Sports Environment Alliance

The Green-Sports movement is in its early days in Australia and New Zealand. After speaking with Sheila Nguyen, the visionary, “won’t take no for an answer”-type Executive Director of the Sports Environment Alliance (SEA), the organization leading the charge Down Under, I am confident that the Green-Sports movement is in great hands. 

 

GreenSportsBlog: Sheila, it’s clear from your American accent that you’re not originally from Australia. How did you get from here to there and how did you come to begin and lead the Green-Sports movement Down Under?

Sheila Nguyen: It’s a long story, Lew…

GSB:…I’m not going anywhere. Go!

SN: OK you asked for it! My parents are refugees from Vietnam, leaving during the war in the late 70s. They landed in Boston before moving to Lowell, where I was born. They wanted to get into the American culture so when my brother was born, they named him Larry after Larry Bird.

GSB: I’m trying to think of the sports figure who’s name is Sheila and I’m drawing a blank.

SN: Well they named me after a French singer named Sheila so not everything was Americanized. Anyway when I was a young girl, my parents, being very traditional, kept me inside all the time. I became obese. I ended up forging my mom’s signature to get the ok to play youth soccer when I was 10. They called me “The Bulldozer”. I was hooked on sports. It was really a life-changing event for me. We moved around a lot but I became incredibly active, swimming, cheerleading, you name it. And sports became embedded in my DNA.

GSB: WOW! Amazing. What did you do with this sports passion?

NGUYEN_headshot

Sheila Nguyen, Executive Director of Sports Environment Alliance (SEA). (Photo credit: Sheila Nguyen)

 

SN: I rowed at the University of Vermont, was a psychology and sports medicine major. And I had a summer internship at the University of Albany when the New York Giants trained there. So I got even more into it. In fact, when it came time to look at grad schools for Sports Psychology, I only considered schools that were in that year’s NCAA Men’s basketball tournament. And whichever school made it the furthest into the tourney, that’s where I was going!

GSB: For real? Basing your graduate school selection on March Madness?

SN: That year, Villanova, Michigan State and Temple all made it into the tournament; Temple got all the way to the Elite Eight. Next thing I knew, I was headed to North Philly. Then I decided to get a PhD. in Sports Business and Corporate Social Responsibility at Florida State

GSB: Did they make a deep NCAA Tournament run that year?

SN: No…I didn’t make my PhD decision based on the NCAA’s- I chose them as they were ranked in the top 5 for doctoral studies in sport business. My dissertation was on How Sports Can Be a Force for Good…And Good Business—I was able to provide evidence that this was the case; that doing good enhanced the business, as a whole, with lots of organizational outcomes like employee loyalty.

GSB: So where did the environmental sustainability piece come in?

SN: Again going back to my parents and their backgrounds as refugees…they were incredible savers; they wanted absolutely no waste. And one of my childhood friends had hippy parents. They composted, for goodness sakes!

GSB: In the 80s? Composting?

SN: Yep! So I was an environmentalist from when I was about eight years old.

GSB: I’m quite sure I had no idea what composting was when I was 28, much less eight. That is great to hear. So I get where your greenness comes from as well as your passion for sports.  How did you come to combine the two?

SN: Great question. It goes back to 2007 when I started my job as Assistant Professor in Sport Management at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia…

GSB: Ahhhhh! So THAT’S where Australia comes in! I was going to ask about that. OK, continue…

SN: And in 2008 I started to do some research on the intersection of environmental sustainability and the sport industry- when I posed it to my class of sport industry professionals, their reaction was evidence that the industry was highly disconnected to their responsibility to their spaces and places of play.

GSB: They didn’t care…Not good.

SN: Fast forward to 2011, when I was a visiting scholar at Notre Dame in Business Ethics.

GSB: So I assume you went to a Notre Dame football game or two?

SN: Absolutely!! What an experience! An even more important one was, while at Notre Dame, I found out about the Green Sports Alliance, went to their first Summit in Portland. That was my “Eureka! Moment” where I said to myself “We have to bring this to Australia!” I talked to the folks at the GSA about doing so but, at the time, they were much more focused on growing their footprint and influence in North America. So that’s when I thought, “I’m going to build something like GSA to represent and attend to the needs of this region.”

GSB: How did you go about it? That seems like a massive undertaking, especially for someone who already had a full time job.

SN: You’re right. But I wasn’t going to wait around. So in 2011, I started talking to organizations like the AFL (Aussie Rules Football), Tennis Australia and other major sports organizations in the country. There was a modicum of interest in doing something around sustainability. Luckily, shortly after starting at Deakin, I met Malcolm Speed, one of the most important figures in Australian sport. Malcolm became my mentor and without him, the Sports Environment Alliance would not exist.

GSB: Who is Malcolm Speed?

SN: I’ll answer that this way: In 2013, David Stern, at that time still commissioner of the NBA, said “35 years ago, a man walked into my office, saying he wanted to start a basketball league in Australia. That man was Malcolm Speed. The lesson? Always keep your office door open!” Malcolm started professional basketball in Australia. He’s a globally reputed and respected sport administrator, and I think he has a crystal ball because he can foresee the industry challenges, like environmental degradation and its impact on our industry.

SEA Malcolm Speed

Malcolm Speed (Photo credit: Sports Environment Alliance)

 

GSB: Man, I want Malcolm to be my mentor!

SN: Well, I’ve got him! Anyway, we knew that the North American sports industry had advanced in terms of considering ways to protect our planet, so in 2013 we decided to host a symposium, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney, and we invited North American leaders to share their insights alongside local leaders. We were fortunate to get a number of amazing industry eco-warriors like, Kevin Carr at the NBA, Brian Thurston at Waste-Management, and Brad Mohr, who then worked for the Cleveland Indians in sustainability and now does so for the Browns, to come down and present. We also had leaders from this part of the world doing amazing things, and pretty much all of the major sports associations attending the event—Aussie Rules, Rugby Union, Rugby League, A-League Soccer, Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia, Golf, Basketball, Netball

GSB: That sounds like a phenomenal level of participation…Who funded this? And how many people showed up?

SN: Deakin supported us and I chipped in to fund it…

GSB: You dipped into your own pocket? That is true devotion…

SN: I look at it like an investment, both in my own future in green-sports and for the environment more broadly. We had about 200 attendees, which we were happy about.

GSB: I’ll say! Australia is less than 10 percent of the US population so that would be like drawing 2,000 or more in the States. That’s really impressive, Sheila. So what were the key take-aways?

SN: That the stadium and arena operators needed to be heavily involved up front. One reason is they could convert knowledge on sustainable operations to practical improvements most easily. And number two is that sports are run differently in Australia as compared to North America. Down here, for the most part, teams are tenants of the stadium and arena owners so they haven’t yet leveraged their position to engage fans on sustainability through education through entertainment, aka, “edutainment.”

GSB: But sustainability isn’t really “entertainment”…it’s more of a cause. Don’t teams do cause marketing in Australia?

SN: They do get involved in some causes- in fact, they are highly involved with various causes, such as breast cancer awareness, racial vilification, and so on, but the environment is less ‘humanized’ and thus, the sporting public has had a more challenging time in engaging it and also probably see it as more of a future problem to be dealt with later.

GSB: It seems like the teams are letting themselves off the hook…also the “environmental problems are in the future” attitude is something we fight in North America as well. How do you start the conversation with the industry?

SN: I start off by reminding them about their ‘locality’ and what is important in this part of the world to protect.   I say we need to protect Australiana, the 24,000 unique species of flora and fauna that exist only in Australia. The other message we share is on how environmental changes can impact our communities. In the 2000’s, Australia experienced serious drought. Community sport was affected as the grounds couldn’t be watered. You might think, “oh this is a problem, but, in the scheme of things, not that big of one.” Well, you would be wrong. Participatory and community sports are huge parts of the Australian culture and the drought cut that off in many cases, which impacted the community connectedness. In many parts of remote and rural Australia, sport is a way of life and a means to socialize and feel connected to one’s neighbors, who may live many kilometers away. As a result, the story is, and there are data to support it, that the drought-related cancellation of community sports led to a marked rise in depression, mental illness and even suicide from the increasing feeling of isolation and loss of identity and connection. So, we would like to say, that this movement is about protecting our communities as much as it is about protecting our spaces to play.

GSB: I had no idea. That is a HUGE story that needs to be told more broadly. Now it makes perfect sense to me that the Sports Environment Alliance was created. How did it happen?

SN: Malcolm and I started to put it together in 2014 as we saw interest in the topic at the symposiums held then. We created the Sports Environment Association (SEA) with a simple mission: To get sports to minimize its environmental impact. We saw this goal as attainable because, if done right, it would also lead to cost cutting, which venues and sports federations would appreciate as they are searching for ways to become more financially independent. In my spare time, as I was still working full time, Malcolm and I chipped away at spreading the ‘good word’, and in our first year, 2015, we were able to get 15 foundation members, including Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia, among many other amazing leaders, including, an AFL club, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the City of Melbourne itself.

Melbourne Cricket Ground Mat Tubb – Airship Solutions

Aerial view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, one of Australia’s most venerable sporting venues and a founding member of Sports Environment Alliance (Photo credit: Matt Tubb, Airship Solutions)

 

GSB: WOW! That’s impressive, Sheila, well done! What are the next steps for SEA?

SN: Now that we’ve got the national sport and other industry leaders on board, we are focused on spreading the good word about the role the industry can play in bettering our environmental health.  This is why our first step in addressing our mission was to build awareness of the movement and of the respective issues. In 2016-17, our main aim is to grow the ‘herd,’ through alliance membership. To that end, we just hired both our first and second employee ever—we’re a true startup, having been all volunteers up to now, Lew! And to be truly regional, we are excited to embrace our Trans-Tasman friends from New Zealand. On the latter, we recently secured Auckland Stadiums as our first Kiwi Foundation member, as they represent an enthusiastic and eco-focused group of nine facilities, which can make a world of difference and motivate the rest of the country’s sports industry to be part of the movement. Eventually, should it make sense, we hope to influence and increase the regional representation to the whole of Asia Pacific, and I think we can. Some other exciting news, we’ve started an athlete ambassador program. In fact, Daria Gavrilova, number 20 globally ranked female tennis player, and Marcus Bontempelli, an AFL player, were just featured in the Melbourne Herald Sun, sharing their support of the environment through the #SEAAmbassadors hashtag.

Daria Gavrilova HD Pix

Daria Gavrilova, Australian tennis star and supporter of Sports Environment Association (Photo credit: HD Photos)

 

GSB: That is so exciting. Good luck on all fronts! One last question…It seems as though SEA is not bringing climate change into the mix. Is that an accident? Or are the politics of climate change in Australia toxic, similar to the situation here in the US?

SN: We haven’t really used the term climate change in our mainstream communication, but as you are aware, it is a highly politicized topic- in fact, I would say, it has been a political football. And, while we love sports, we don’t play games with climate change. For us, it is about impact on the ground, and minimizing our impact on the ground is our priority.

GSB: But isn’t avoiding saying the words “climate change” just acquiescing to the deniers and skeptics?

SN: As the first Green-Sports organization in our part of the world and as a start-up, we are taking first things first with the sports industry. That means getting the industry to recognize its crucial societal role, and two, to encourage sporting organizations, stadiums and other industry friends to be more environmentally friendly. That doesn’t mean we’re ignoring climate change; we’re just leading with overall environmental change at present, hence our motto #SEAtheChange . But don’t worry; we’re already partnering with various great groups focused on climate change issues, such as the Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation, and many others. I say, to use an American football or gridiron analogy, move the football 10 yards at a time- that’s progress, and we’ll eventually get that climate change touchdown.

GSB: I know that dealing with climate change and sports is challenging in Australia as in the US. And, since you’re a startup, I think you’re right to focus on action now and take on climate change directly down the road—just not too far down the road J I look forward to coming down to Australia to check out SEA’s progress for myself.

SN: You got it Lew- any friend of the environment is a friend of ours.

 


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GSB News and Notes: PAC-12 Zero Waste Bowl Winners; Men’s and Women’s Final Fours Played on Sustainably Harvested Hardwood Floors; World Flying Disc Federation Names Its First Sustainability Director

 

The PAC-12 conference, in partnership with the Green Sports Alliance, announces the winners of its fall 2016 Zero-Waste Bowl competitions. The Men’s and Women’s Final Fours were contested on sustainably harvested hardwood courts. And Flying Disc sports (i.e. Ultimate Frisbee) makes its first GSB appearance as the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) hires its first sustainability director.

 

PAC-12 ZERO WASTE BOWL WINNERS

On Wednesday, the Pac-12, in partnership with the Green Sports Alliance, announced the winners of its third annual Zero Waste Bowl. The Pac 12 already has a strong relationship with the GSA: All 12 schools^ participated as members in 2016 and are doing so again this year.

The Pac-12 Zero Waste Bowl aimed to determine which school could divert the most waste from the landfill at a selected football (or other men’s or women’s) home game during the Fall 2016 sports season, as well as which one used the most innovative methods to expand the reach and impact of the competition. It provides a friendly and spirited platform for the schools’ athletics departments and other groups to engage on best practices in athletics waste diversion and to learn how each campus strives toward zero waste goals.

In addition to the overall waste diversion rate, the universities were scored on innovation, partnership and participation, as well as fan engagement. A panel of four independent judges determined the results.

Fall 2016 Pac-12 Zero Waste Bowl Challenge Final Results:

la-coliseum-usc-neil-leifer

The Los Angeles Coliseum is now Zero Waste for USC football (Photo credit: Neil Leifer)

 

Finally, the judges awarded three Pac-12 universities with special awards for Most Improved (USC), Fan Engagement (Stanford), and Athlete/Player Engagement (Oregon State).

Stanford’s Cardinal Green fan-centric program, part of a nationwide Gameday Challenge to see which participating school could reduce waste the most, won points for its comprehensiveness. It reached out to a multitude of stakeholders to encourage recycling and composting at one football game, one men’s basketball game and one women’s basketball game. Students, season-ticket holders, single-game ticket holders, employees, gameday staff, volunteers and more were engaged. The communications effort was clever and deep, both in the tailgate area and especially in the stadium and arena:

  • The Stanford marching band made sustainability and Zero-Waste a theme of one of their vignettes during halftime of the football game.
  • A Stanford-produced video (“All About No Waste at Stanford”, a musical parody based on Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass”) was played during halftime.

  • The Public Address Announcer discussed Game Day Challenge information twice towards beginning of game, encouraging fans to properly sort their waste.

  • Sustainability facts were displayed on the main scoreboard about once per quarter.

  • Compostable bags and half-page flyers showing what to compost and where compost bins are located were distributed to tailgaters.

 

“All About No Waste” video (3:12) was shown at halftime of the 2016 Gameday Challenge football game at Stanford Stadium.

 

Oregon State won the Athlete/Player Engagement honors thanks to its Beaver Athlete Sustainability Team (BAST), a group led by swimmer Jesikah Cavanaugh and Sam Lewis of women’s cross country. BAST, which also draws its members from football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s rowing and women’s track, came together because they had a passion for sustainability, the climate change fight and saw areas of waste in their community and athletic department. They started with small ideas which evolved into an organized group focused on engagement, education and service to the environment. Three key action areas for the 2016-2017 academic year include:

  • Reduce Food Waste in Valley Performance Center (where the players eat their meals): Introduced composting and increased recycling.

  • Create Awareness Around Sustainability and to Build Bridges Between Campus and the Community Launched the #BeavsRecycle Campaign with Oregon State Campus Recycling to create an awareness of recycling throughout campus as well as the student-athletes’ commitment to the environment

  • Foster a More Sustainable Experience at Sporting Event: Collect unused or disposed of giveaway items at football and basketball games for recycling. Educate fans about recycling at baseball games.

According to Ms. Cavanaugh, the BAST program is a natural outgrowth of the already deeply embedded sustainable/green culture at Oregon State: “Many of my teammates have become passionate about being sure to sort their waste because of the culture here at OSU.”

 

Oregon State University student-athletes share why they’ve joined the Beaver Athlete Sustainability Team or BAST in this video (1:43)

 

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S FINAL FOURS PLAYED ON SUSTAINABLY HARVESTED WOOD FLOORS

While South Carolina and North Carolina are deservedly being hailed for winning the  2017 NCAA Women’s and Men’s National Championships, respectively, the courts they won on merit kudos as well.

You see, the hardwood floors at American Airlines Center in Dallas, site of the Women’s Final Four, and University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, host of the Men’s Final Four, were made from wood sustainably harvested from The Nature Conservancy’s Two Hearted River Forest Reserve in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Connor Sports, the Official Court Provider of the NCAA, single-sourced all the timber from Sugar Maple trees in the TNC’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified forest in the Upper Peninsula.   

“Our goal at Connor Sports is to provide our NCAA customer with the best possible court products using responsible forestry practices,” said Jason Gasperich, Director of Sustainability for Connor Sports. “This unique method…mark[s] the first-time Connor Sports has single-sourced all the timber for a customer project from one forest, and Sugar Maple trees are the industry’s most prized species known for their durability, strength and light coloring.”

The Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve spans approximately 24,000 acres. Sustainable forestry practices include ecological thinning, selectively cutting trees to improve the health of the forest that are also economically viable. Thirty-five acres of the Reserve were sustainably harvested to create this year’s championship floors.

 

JOHANNA VON TOGGENBURG NAMED SUSTAINABILITY DIRECTOR OF WORLD FLYING DISC FEDERATION (WFDF)

GreenSportsBlog has never reported on the world of Ultimate Frisbee and other flying disk sports. Until today, that is.

That is because Johanna Von Toggenburg, who has played and coached ultimate frisbee, and currently works for the United Nations on the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, has been named the first Sustainability Director of the World Flying Disk Federation (WFDF).

Johanna Von Toggenberg

Johanna Von Toggenburg, new Sustainability Director for the World Flying Disk Federation. (Photo credit: SwitchMed)

She played Ultimate in Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and the United States, competed at the European Ultimate Championships in 2007 in England, and also helped found the Lebanon Flying Disc Association when she moved to that country in 2015.

“My vision for this role is to develop transparent assessment mechanisms with practical recommendations to ensure activities carried out by WFDF and its members are done in a sustainable manner,” said Von Toggenburg, “I am excited about combining my profession and passion in order to mainstream sustainable practices into all aspects of flying disc sports worldwide.”

WFDF President Robert Rauch welcomed Von Toggenburg into the role and says she will hit the ground running to improve the environmental performance andgovernance and of the organization.

“The appointment of Johanna von Toggenburg as our first ever sustainability marks another important step in fulfilling our commitment to the environment and to stage sustainable world events and make sure that WFDF operates under best of class governance procedures,” he said.

“We will now be better equipped to apply our sustainability evaluation tools like the Sustainable Sport Event Toolkit provided by our partner AISTS and ensure that sustainability issues are considered when reviewing applications for our development grant projects.”

^ Pac-12 schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal-Berkeley, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State

 


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The GSB Interview: David Doll, OSIsoft; the Internet Of Things meets Green-Sports

Smart Grid. Smart Agriculture. Smart Stadiums? The Internet of Things (IOT) is making virtually every process, every structure, every thing much smarter, much faster. Why would that be different in the sports world. Fact is, technology is allowing stadiums and arenas to measure their energy use, water use and waste in real time. This has made it possible for venue operators and team owners to be much more efficient, saving money and carbon emissions in the process. GreenSportsBlog talked with David Doll, Industry Principal, Facilities and Energy Management at OSIsoft, one of the leaders at the intersection of Green, Sports and the IOT, about where this exciting world is going.

 

GSB: David, right off the bat, for the tech-luddites among us, can you define Internet of Things or IOT?

David Doll: Great question, Lew—there are a lot of definitions out there. I’ll go with this: The Internet of Things is putting a digital presence, a sensor where it didn’t exist before to feed data to other machines, to get them and humans to react.

GSB: Makes sense to me. Readers, you got it? Good. OK, I’m really glad to talk with you as the topic of smart stadiums and arenas is something I’ve wanted to delve into for quite awhile. How did you get into this business? Are you from the tech side?

DD: Yes. After doing my undergrad at University of Richmond and my MBA at Villanova…

GSB: Congratulations on your national championship last year, and on a great regular season this season.

DD: Thank you, although I didn’t have anything to with it, I’m still willing to take credit! Anyway, I worked for 16 years as a software developer, manager, and IT consultant for software and consulting firms. Eventually, the company I was with was acquired by OSIsoft, and I’ve been with them for the last eight years.

DavidDoll

David Doll, Industry Principal, Facilities and Energy Management at OSIsoft (Photo credit: OSIsoft)

 

GSB: What does OSIsoft do, exactly?

DD: We’re a privately held company that’s been around for more than 30 years. OSIsoft connects data with people in ways that allows them to turn that information into valuable insights. Our focus has been in heavy industry and the built environment worlds to help get value out of data, which was kind of an industrial-specific arena for decades. But with sensors getting smaller, more powerful and much cheaper, data and metrics have exploded everywhere.

GSB: That must mean it’s much more competitive.

DD: MUCH more so! Smart grid, smart apartment buildings, smart airports, smart university campuses, smart data centers, and smart stadiums are sexy these days. There’s data where there wasn’t before, from heating and air conditioning (HVAC) to occupancy. And so the big guys like Cisco and Oracle and Dell and you name it are involved. The competition has stepped up, but OSIsoft’s industrial heritage puts us in a strong position, as does our long experience in the environmental space, meaning using sensors to measure energy, water and carbon. For us, it’s a win-win intersection of “planet and profit”.

GSB: Love that kind of “win-win”. I have to believe a rapidly greening sports industry is adapting IOT and thus would be a market for OSIsoft. Is that the case and, if so, how big is sports in your overall portfolio?

DD: Sports is a small portion of OSIsoft’s overall business, but it is growing and it is very high profile, which certainly helps us overall. I’ll give you a great case study with Major League Baseball and their Green Tracks program. This goes back to 2011 or 2012. We were introduced to Scott Jenkins, who, at the time, ran Safeco Field on behalf of the Seattle Mariners…

GSB: …Now the General Manager of the soon-to-open Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, future home of the Falcons and Atlanta United F.C. Scott, a GSB fave, is also the Chairman of the Board of the Green Sports Alliance

DD: Yes, THAT Scott Jenkins. So, at that time MLB had a program called Green Tracks, which asked stadium employees to manually enter their water, energy, and gas usage as well as their recycling data.

GSB: MANUALLY ENTER? Are you kidding? That’s so a decade ago!

DD: So true! And it had its struggles, so the data weren’t that accurate or detailed. We showed Scott and other folks at MLB our PI System

GSB: What does PI stand for, other than 3.14159…

DD: It’s not THAT PI. Rather it stands for something pretty simple, Plant Information. But the PI System is actually ubiquitous. In fact the PI System brand name is, in some cases, better known than OSIsoft. The PI System was installed at Safeco Field, and it immediately provided visibility and real time data for Mariners’ executives about the operations of the ballpark. Which is important when you consider that teams have much less knowledge about the business of their stadiums, about how their stadiums perform, than they do about how their players perform.

GSB: So it was like the Mariners’ move from the manual Green Tracks to the PI System was the ballpark operations version of moving from old time player metrics (batting average, ERA, etc.) to advanced sabermetrics^ (OPS, Wins Above Replacement, etc.), right?

DD: Exactly! Now team management can see the energy footprint of the game, day vs. night, April vs. August, and then tweak things to improve it. And there were lots of ways the Mariners—or any other club, for that matter—could improve upon stadium energy, water and carbon footprint performance without messing with the game day experience of the players and fans.

GSB: Give me a for instance of how the PI System could help Safeco Field run more efficiently and lower its carbon footprint.

DD: First off, when the club is on the road, they can use the PI System to make sure things like the TV monitors and pizza ovens are turned off, that the AC is off except in occupied offices.

GSB: That seems like low hanging fruit. What about minimizing things during a game?

DD: It’s a bit more subtle, but the same principle applies. When do you turn on the AC to get maximum effect and comfort but minimize waste? PI technology can show that. Same thing with lights, ovens and the rest. It enables them to constantly tweak performance. Energy usage in a place like Seattle should be a lot different at an April game vs. one in the summer.

GSB: How much did the Mariners save?

DD: They reported about $1.5 million over four years.

GSB: That’s significant for sure. How much did they save on a carbon footprint basis?

DD: We don’t have that data, but if the energy savings are significant so too must the carbon footprint savings. The Mariners were very happy, and so our next step was to sign an enterprise agreement in 2013 with MLB as part of Green Tracks 2.0 which gave the 29 other clubs the right to install the PI System at their facilities.

GSB: How did that work?

DD: The league purchases the software, so the clubs can use the PI System for free. The only additional fees are for maintenance and consulting, if a club wants that. So far about a dozen teams are using it.

GSB: Such a deal for the clubs! Why wouldn’t all of them use PI technology if it’s free? Is it an exclusive deal or can clubs choose to use one of OSIsoft’s competitors?

DD: Nope, clubs are free to use other products, but they’d have to pay to go that route. And one or two have done so…

GSB: …Hmmm. There must be some political reasons for doing so…A club is using, I’m making it up, Oracle for their digital networks and so they get a break on IOT.

DD: Something like that. We don’t have visibility as to what all of the clubs are doing. But we are happy the Mariners, the San Diego Padres and Petco Park, which hosted the 2016 All Star Game, and a host of other teams have chosen to integrate the PI System into their operations.

 

PI System Data in real time

The OSIsoft PI system tracks water, electricity and natural gas use at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. (Photo credit: San Diego Padres)

 

GSB: That’s good to hear. I imagine that the employees prefer PI to manually entering data…

DD: No doubt about it—the employees LOVE IT! It allows them to be environmental and operational heroes by helping to solve problems before they happen.

 

Petco Water System2

A Petco Park employee wires the stadium’s water system for monitoring by OSIsoft. (Photo credit: San Diego Padres)

 

GSB: That’s great. Now, let’s look beyond baseball. Talk about OSIsoft’s involvement with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

DD: We’re working with the Wild and Xcel Energy Center, which includes the hockey arena, an auditorium, and a Convention Center. The PI System gives the owners visibility on energy, water and carbon across all of the facilities. As with baseball, the operators of the buildings didn’t know much about the energy they were using or why. Now that they know, they can negotiate better contracts for concerts and other events. A Monster Truck contest looks a lot different than a Lady Gaga concert; now they know. We also see a big opportunity with minor league and community rinks.

GSB: I’m sure you’re aware of the NHL’s Greener Rinks program, in which the league is becoming a sustainability resource for community rinks. Are you working with MLS, the NBA or NFL?

DD: Not yet with those leagues nor their clubs. One big and perhaps surprising hurdle is the lack of technology in many stadiums and arenas, even the “modern” ones.

GSB: Really? I gotta believe that Mercedes-Benz Stadium or the new US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (home of the Vikings) or Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara (49ers) are super high tech.

DD: I assume you’re right on US Bank Stadium and I know you are on the other two. But think about newer ballparks like Camden Yards in Baltimore. It’s considered of the modern era, even though it is now 25 years old. There was not a lot of smart technology put into many of these buildings, and that’s where new IOT technologies become critical. And the sports world is changing. I don’t think it’s a stretch to envision that, within 3-5 years, OSIsoft will have brought our technology to the other leagues.

GSB: Oh I would be shocked if it took that long. One last question: Does OSIsoft have any fan engagement programs? OSIsoft is, as far as I know, a B-to-B company, not business-to-consumer.

DD: You’re right, we’re B-to-B. Environmentally-focused fan awareness programs need to be the team’s responsibility, but we will keep innovating behind the scenes.

 

^ Sabermetrics = the application of advanced statistical analysis to baseball records, especially in order to evaluate and compare the performance of individual players.

 


 

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Protect Our Winters Slams President’s Anti-Climate Change Executive Action

The mission of Protect Our Winters (POW), an organization made up of leading winter sports athletes and the brands that support them, is to mobilize the outdoor sports community to lead the charge towards positive climate action. The group stepped up Wednesday with a strong statement and a positive action plan against President Trump’s anti-climate change executive action.

 

 

President Trump, with a broad-stroke executive order issued Tuesday, directed his Cabinet to start taking an axe to a wide array of Obama-era policies on climate change — from emissions rules for power plants (aka the Clean Power Plan) to limits on methane leaks; from the use of the social cost of carbon to guide government actions to a moratorium on federal coal leasing, and more.

Trump Signs Exec Order

President Donald J. Trump after signing the executive order on climate change. (Photo credit: Boston Globe)

 

Criticism came from expected and very important quarters: Former Vice President Al Gore called the President’s executive order that makes the United States’ 2015 Paris Agreement pledge to lower emissions by at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 virtually impossible to achieve “a misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future for ourselves and generations to come.” Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman used but one word in his must-read column, “Trump is a Chinese Agent,” to describe the action: “Stupid.” 

Let’s be clear: the President’s actions are not orders that can immediately be implemented; rather they are directions to reconsider the Clean Power Plan and other Obama-era climate change fighting rules. Before those can be acted upon, legal actions can be filed that could take years to resolve. For an in-depth and insightful analysis of all this, I urge you to read Brad Plumer’s top notch piece in Vox. But, suffice to say, for the climate change fight, Tuesday’s actions were possibly calamitous in the long run and potentially dispiriting in the hear and now.

But this is not the time for discouragement. Again, I refer you to Al Gore: No matter how discouraging this executive order may be, we must, we can, and we will solve the climate crisis. No one man or group can stop the encouraging and escalating momentum we are experiencing in the fight to protect our planet.”

Discouragement is not part of Protect Our Winters‘ (POW) vocabulary.

POW is the Boulder, CO-based nonprofit whose leadership is made up of leading professional skiers, snowboarders and other winter sports athletes. To engage in the climate change fight, POW’s Olympic medal- and World Championship-winning athletes trade in their skis and snowboards for political advocacy and lobbying along with community-based activism. To my knowledge, there is no other athlete group or sports league that is as deeply involved in the climate change fight as POW. 

Exhibit A of POW’s climate change fighting chops is Tuesday’s Let’s Take Action”-type blog that was posted shortly after the executive order was announced. It urges its followers to:

  1. Call their governors, as states can move forward on limiting emissions from fossil fuel fired power plants.
  2. Keep focused. Per the blog, when the EPA and the other government agencies take up President Trump’s directions to change course, they will “have to prove that they have reason to change the Clean Power Plan and the other environmental rules under attack. (read: they have to prove it’s not just politics, but that there is new information or evidence requiring change). When they do this, there will be opportunity for the public to comment.” 

POW

 

 

At that point, you can be sure POW will provide their 94,000+ Facebook friends and 20,000+ Twitter followers with the tools to maximize the impact of their comments. And POW athletes will continue to lobby, blog and speak out against the Trump Administration’s assault on the climate change fight.

 


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