Leading Stadium-Arena Manager AEG Commits to 25% “Science-Based” Emissions Reduction

Los Angeles-based AEG is the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company. It owns and/or manages some of the preeminent stadiums and arenas in the US and around the world, including the Staples Center (Los Angeles), Target Center (Minneapolis), Barclays Center (Brooklyn), The O2 Arena (London) and StubHub Center (Carson, CA). So it’s a big deal when a company of that size and stature announces a commitment to a 25 percent “science-based emissions reduction” by 2020 (base year 2010). That’s just what AEG did at SXSW Eco in Austin, TX earlier this month. GreenSportsBlog talked to John Marler, AEG’s Senior Director of Energy and Environment to get a sense of the scope of that pledge—and also to find out what a “science-based” commitment is.


SXSW Eco brings together top business leaders, policy makers, innovators and designers to “advance solutions that drive social, economic and environmental change.” Given that remit, it’s fitting that AEG, one of the world’s leading stadium/arena owners, chose the Austin, TX-based conference to release its 2016 Sustainability Report and to announce it had adopted a new science-based goal to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020 at its worldwide venues, festivals and offices from its 2010 baseline. According to John Marler, the company’s Senior Director of Energy and Environment, a science-based target is one that is “in line with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations to keep global temperature increase above at or below 2° Celsius compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels, in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”

Both measuring its emissions reductions and reaching its 25 percent goal are not easy tasks for AEG. “Measurement of emissions can be difficult because AEG acquires and divests properties each year,” said Marler, “And we are growing rapidly, adding more properties than we shed. That makes reducing emissions all the more difficult as we tend to do better the longer we own or manage a property.”

At properties AEG has owned since 2010, the company is just about halfway home—they’ve been able to cut GHG emissions 13 percent—with slightly less than half a decade remaining to cut emissions an additional 12 percent to cross the goal line.

How does AEG go about reducing emissions? Per Marler, the company takes “An ‘All of The Above’ approach. “About 80 percent of our carbon footprint is for electricity for buildings. Energy efficiency—HVAC retrofits and the like—is central to our efforts, as are investments in on-site renewables like solar, combined heat and power, fuel cells, and similar technologies.” And, as detailed in an August GreenSportsBlog story, AEG is testing promising new technologies like battery storage in a partnership with Tesla at StubHub Center, home of the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer.

Other AEG Green-Sports success stories include:


San Diego Gulls vs Texas Stars 2016 Playoffs - Round A at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, CA on 4/28/2016

AEG’s Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA (Photo credit: AEG)


  • LA’s STAPLES Center, home to the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers as well as the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, can generate up to 33% of its own electric power needs using its roof-mounted solar panels and new fuel cells courtesy of Bloom Energy.



Former Vice President Al Gore (3rd from right) at STAPLES Center ceremony turning on the Bloom Energy Fuel Cells. (Photo credit: AEG)


  • London’s The O2 entertainment district became the third site in the company’s portfolio to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.


AEG’s environmental commitments are not only emissions reduction related as it also announced new goals for water conservation and waste diversion:

  • Reduce potable water use at water-stressed sites by 2.3 percent per year from 2010 to 2010. Water reduction hits home for AEG as its headquarters and many of its properties are in drought-ravaged California.
  • Divert 70% of its waste from the landfill across all operations by 2020, helping it move closer to its long-term vision of zero waste.


The fact that AEG is setting meaningful environmental targets for itself is a big deal.

That the owner/operator of iconic sports and other entertainment venues is going public with its commitment to the climate change fight is, to GreenSportsBlog, an even a bigger deal.

For Marler, mitigating climate change makes business sense: “AEG, like the rest of the world, is directly affected by the impacts of climate change. For example, in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the Atlantic Coast, and severely damaged the Starland Ballroom, an AEG Live music venue. It took the better part of a year to bring the venue back into operation. In 2015 and 2016, rising temperatures led to a noticeable increase in cooling degree days, which in turn led to higher cooling requirements for our operations, directly increasing our operating costs. So we see climate change as a challenge to not only health and safety, but also to our [business] success. Our employees are behind this—they want to be the best in everything, green included.”


^ In April 2016, IPCC amended its global warming targets, saying that, by 2022, “when countries will review progress towards their goal of keeping global warming to well below 2° Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5° Celsius.”
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GSB News and Notes: Relan Grows By Upcycling Sports Stadium Signage, New Belgium Beer and Ben + Jerry’s Support Protect Our Winters

For our TGIF GSB News & Notes, we offer up Relan, the Minneapolis-based company that partners with sports teams and venues to repurpose and upcycle stadium signs which would otherwise end up in the landfill, is having, pardon the pun, a banner year. And very green B-Corps New Belgium Brewing and Ben & Jerry’s are teaming up with winter sports athletes via Protect Our Winters (POW) to drink beer, eat ice cream, ski and create tangible ways to fight climate change. 



GreenSportsBlog first got wind of Relan and its President, Kari Brizius, at the 2014 Green Sports Alliance Summit in Santa Clara, CA. After talking with Ms. Brizius for all of two minutes, I knew that we had to write about a company devoted to keeping vinyl banners and signage from stadiums, arenas, and elsewhere out of landfills while at the same time offering sustainable yet cool fashion statements.

So, we interviewed the West Point graduate-environmentalist-athlete in 2014 and 2015 to track Relan’s growth and impact. The company grew strongly during those two years with sports being a key growth driver. Relan worked with the Portland Timbers, Kansas City Marathon, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, as well as companies like Mini Cooper and Pepsi to turn vinyl signs into backpacks, totes, handbags and other products.

And two weeks ago, we had our annual Relan checkup, er, I mean check-in. Suffice to say, the patient is doing very well.

Ms. Brizius was characteristically upbeat as the company had just announced a deal with United Airlines to take end-of-life airport banners and turned them into luggage tags, messenger bags, and backpacks. She noted that Relan and United share many values as the latter is a “leader in the movement to improve aviation fuel economy and also by its efforts to offer organic food options to its passengers.” According to Ms. Brizius, the partnership is kicking off with a test run to “see how the products sell with the goal of a larger roll out from there.” United will promote the Relan line via videos online and through social media. There is also a possibility that Relan-United products will be sold at the United Airlines Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks.



Backpacks (top) and luggage tags made on behalf of United Airlines by Relan from upcycled United signs and banners. (Photo credit: Della Brizius for Relan)


This follows a successful Relan promotion with the Indiana Pacers. The NBA team hosted their annual golf tournament last month, with players, staff, and sponsors on hand. When the participants sat down in their golf carts, they saw coolers made out of Pacers and Fever (WNBA’s Indiana team) banners. Additional coolers were provided to VIPs at other arena events.


Coolers, produced on behalf of the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever, by Relan. (Photo credit: Doug Weitkamp, Indiana Pacers)


As for what’s on tap for Relan going forward, Ms. Brizius shared that “sports teams have grown from basically zero to 35-40% in our business. We’re continuing our work with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, making custom hockey bags for the club. And we’re also set to build on our relationship with the Portland Timbers of MLS and their National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) counterpart, Portland Thorns FC.”

If you operate an arena or stadium and have end-of-life banners or signs and don’t want to send them into the landfill, reach out to Relan at http://www.relan.green/contact/.



What four things do New Belgium Brewing, the Fort Collins, CO-based company that, per its Core Values statement, “honors nature at every turn of the business,” and Ben & Jerry’s have in common?

  1. They’re both B-Corp companies, which means they are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.
  2. Their products are both sold by the pint (OK, credit for that pun goes to the blogger for New Belgium!)
  3. They are combining, for the second year in a row, on an ice cream-inspired beer. This year it’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale^#.
  4. Also for the second straight year, they are joining forces with Protect Our Winters (POW) to, per an October 3rd story in The Full Pint, “drink beer, eat ice cream, and create tangible ways to fight climate change.” POW, whose important work has been featured in GreenSportsBlog, is a nonprofit dedicated to the climate change fight, using top winter sports athletes to spread the word. A portion of the proceeds from Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale, which hits store shelves at the end of this month, will go to POW.


Six pack of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale from New Belgium and Ben & Jerry’s.


Via the 100 Days to Change Our Ways campaign, the three organizations will press the new Administration in Washington to make climate change a top priority during its first 100 days. Events will be held in twelve cities across the country this fall/early winter to garner grassroots support. They will feature letter writing stations, POW athletes speaking out about the dangers of climate change, raffles, and of course beer and ice cream. 

The schedule of events is being finalized; please check newbelgium.com/benandjerrys from time to time to see when the tour will come to your area. 


“100 Days to Change Our Ways” has the potential to be one of the most powerful campaigns I’ve yet seen at the intersection of Green + Sports because 1) it directly and simply engages winter sports fans, and 2) the values of the three partners are perfectly and organically aligned. 

Here’s New Belgium’s Director of Sustainability Jenn Vervier: “Inaction needs to turn into action, from the highest levels of government to each of us. Combating climate change is something we’re passionate about and with the upcoming change in the White House Administration, now is the time to get vocal.”


Jenn Vervier, New Belgium Brewing’s Director of Sustainability. (Photo credit: About Beer Magazine)

Christopher Miller, Ben & Jerry’s Activism Manager weighs in: “Americans may disagree on whether their favorite pint is beer or ice cream, but Americans overwhelmingly understand that climate change is real and the time to act is now. Our campaign will ensure that the new president hears loudly and clearly that a bold commitment to fight climate change belongs at the top of their 100 days agenda.”

Chris Steinkamp, POW’s Executive Director adds, “we’re thrilled to be working with these amazing partners once again to help drive real climate action, centered around the idea that advocacy is our civic responsibility, and with beer and ice cream, it can be fun and collaborative too.”

A “100 Days” action plan will be delivered to the new Administration in January, outlining climate recommendations. A “Lobby Day” will follow in Washington next April to meet with key senators will help determine progress made on the plan and future initiatives. To make your voice heard, go to protectourwinters.org/100days.

^ Last year, New Belgium and Ben & Jerry’s offered up Salted Caramel Brownie Brown Ale.
# Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale uses Ben & Jerry’s popular ice cream of the same name for inspiration, along with hefty doses of chocolate, brown sugar, and vanilla.


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Green Leaders Talk Green Sports: Part 5, Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder, CBS EcoMedia

Over GreenSportsBlog’s 3 1/2 year existence, we’ve spoken with many leading lights from across the Green-Sports spectrum. But the Green-Sports niche, while growing, is still relatively small. When will Green-Sports reach critical mass? What are the key challenges the sports green movement has to overcome? To get some answers, GreenSportsBlog is going outside of the Green-Sports world to take a look inward. We are talking, in an occasional series, with leaders from various corners of the sustainability, business and non-profit worlds to get their views on the sports-greening movement. So far, we’ve spoken with Joel Makower, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group; Jerry Taylor, a leading libertarian DC lobbyist who was climate denier/skeptic, “switched teams” and is now a climate change fighting advocate; Dr. Michael Mann, one of the world’s foremost climate scientists, and Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF.

For our fifth installment, we bring you Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia, a fast-growing division of CBS that directs a portion of advertisers’ spending on its various media outlets (TV, radio, and digital) to non-profits tackling environmental and other societal issues. 


GreenSportsBlog: Paul, congratulations on your success at CBS EcoMedia. You and your team have created a powerful business model: Using a portion of a company’s advertising spending in the service of solving environmental and other issues. We will get to the nuts and bolts of how EcoMedia works but first, take us through how you got involved with sustainability and sustainable business?

Paul Polizzotto: Coincidentally, at least for your audience, my interest in sustainability came as a result of my love of sports; surfing to be exact. I grew up surfing in Manhattan Beach, CA and Santa Monica Bay. Back then it was a very polluted bay. I—along with other surfers—got sick all the time: sinus infections, ear infections, skin infections. I thought: we need to clean the water to make it safe for surfers, other people and wildlife. So I started digging to find out what the sources of the pollution in the bay were and found the contract cleaning industry…

GSB: …What is the contract cleaning industry, exactly?

PP: We’re talking about companies that clean parking lots, industrial sites, manufacturing facilities, and bio-infectious and other areas, where oil, chemicals and other pollutants are sucked up during the course of the cleaning process. Many of these contractors were operating illegally, dumping the untreated wastewater in the drains that fed into the Santa Monica Bay, and contributing to the water pollution. This was a violation of the federal Clean Water Act. So, in response, back in 1989, I started my first company, Property Prep. I came up with processes to capture, pretreat and discharge wastewater in a compliant way, removing the pollutants before they flowed into the Bay. I coined the term “Urban Watershed Cleaning” to describe this “zero discharge” approach.



Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of CBS EcoMedia. (Photo credit: Eric Smith, CBS EcoMedia)


GSB: Holy cow; what a great response! Are you a chemist or an engineer by trade?

PP: No, but I do have a bit of an engineering mind. And we became successful pretty quickly, growing to 150 employees and legalizing the contract cleaning industry in the process. In fact, Property Prep, which we sold a long time ago, exists today and is still successful.

GSB: That’s an impressive legacy, indeed. What did you do next?

PP: We looked to grow and build our impact by expanding beyond Southern California. We keyed in on the new stormwater regulations that were put into place in the late 90s. This was in response to the fact that, per the Clean Water Act, the nation’s waterways needed to be cleaned by 1983, but, by the late 90s, were still impaired in many areas. Cities were particularly hard-hit by the need to clean up the waterways, but their budgets were strapped. So we started a non-profit called Adopt-a-Waterway. Starting in the late 1990s, we worked with cities like Baltimore and Miami through a public-private partnership. Adopt-a-Waterway obtained the rights to post signs promoting the cleanup of local waterways on roadways near storm drains…

GSB: …A la the already existing Adopt-a-Highway model?

PP: Yes. And the lion’s share of the revenue we raised went back to the cities to assist them in funding the mandated waterway cleanups.

GSB: The mayors must have LOVED you!

PP: We got along quite well, yes, and I was very proud of the program’s success. Through our work with the mayors, I saw first-hand how cities were really struggling to fund their Municipal Climate Action Plans—federally-mandated programs that called for CO2 reductions of 20 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050. I became increasingly interested, not just in water pollution, but in the larger issue of climate change—and it became clear to me that to make a meaningful difference, we would have to reach a bigger audience, through a much bigger media presence. And that meant TV, radio, outdoor, and digital.

GSB: So how did you go about doing that?

PP: Well, first we needed to become a for-profit.

GSB: Why?

PP: As a non-profit, we were competing with many other worthy nonprofits for a slice of the too-small funding pie. It became my goal to bring new money to the table. What if we could create an ad model that would fund non-profits rather than being one of many non-profits soliciting corporate dollars? We would be creating additional revenue—a funding stream that nonprofits would never have had access to otherwise, from businesses and industries who’d never contributed to nonprofits before. So EcoMedia was born.

GSB: How did that work?

PP: It was a public-private partnership model similar to Adopt-a-Waterway, just on a bigger scale. We got the rights from select cities to green public buildings and sell sponsorships to those greening projects. Then we partnered with media companies, including CBS, to divert a portion of an interested advertiser’s media budget to support the greening projects. Our Green Schools Initiative—a project that won the 2009 US Conference of Mayors Award for Excellence in Public Private Partnerships —used participating dollars from advertisers on CBS TV affiliates in Chicago, Miami and San Francisco to install solar panels on school roofs, accomplish energy efficient retrofits, and create STEM curricula and other educational programs in those cities.

Solar Panel Ribbon Cutting and Press Conference

Solar panels on the grounds of City Hall in Miami, courtesy of revenue generated by EcoMedia. Miami, along with Chicago and San Francisco, participated in EcoMedia’s 2009 “Green Schools Initiative,” in which revenue from select advertisers of CBS TV affiliates in those cities helped to put solar panels on school roofs. (Photo credit: Eric Smith, CBS EcoMedia)
GSB: In the interest of full disclosure, I worked with EcoMedia selling those sponsorships back then. And I always thought your model was absolutely brilliant.PP: Thanks, Lew. As you know, we were acquired by CBS in 2010 and, since then, have been one of the company’s fastest growing divisions.GSB: I am not surprised. So how does the EcoMedia model work within CBS?PP: Great question. An advertiser has to spend additional advertising dollars with CBS. CBS then shares some of those incremental dollars with one or more non-profits.

GSB: …Do advertisers, by and large, see this as mainly a tax deduction?

PP: No; they see it as a new way to market themselves as a purpose-driven company, a good corporate citizen, using the megaphone of CBS to help them do it. Now, in addition to working with CBS salespeople to show advertisers the value of doing this, EcoMedia carefully vets the non-profits—our grant agreements are very outcome-based. Crucial to the success of the model is that we also create content that tells the advertisers’ purpose-driven story; we then run that content, paid for by the aforementioned incremental ad spend, on CBS platforms, whether it be on network TV, local stations, radio, or digital.

GSB: Where does CBS Sports fit in to the EcoMedia mix?

PP: Oh we work closely with CBS Sports. Advertisers buy incremental spots on Thursday Night NFL Football, March Madness or any other CBS Sports property to take part in the EcoMedia program. Here’s a great example. During the 2013 NCAA Men’s Tournament…

GSB: …Final Four was in Atlanta that year if memory serves…

PP: …Exactly. We sold a program to Hampton Inn. The incremental ad dollars funded the upgrade of 40 Boys and Girls Clubs in Atlanta. At one of the Clubs, we completely redid the basketball gym, with new energy efficient lighting, new paint, new scoreboards, and resurfacing of the court. Then on Sunday, the “off” day in the Final Four, we held a tournament for all the Boys and Girls Clubs in the refurbished gym. The young athletes were treated as Final Four competitors, right down to the announcing, which was done by CBS Final Four announcers. It was so cool!


PP: Here’s another sports example: We partnered with United Healthcare, through its incremental ad buy with CBS, with Cal Ripken, Jr. and his Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to refurbish community and high school baseball and football fields in at risk areas. Key to the program was the planting of community gardens in 8 participating US cities. We called it the Team 8 Tour as Ripken, Jr.’s uniform number was, of course, 8. This became very personal for me as one of the high schools was Dorsey High in LA. Hall of Fame manager—and my uncle— Sparky Anderson attended Dorsey.


Paul Polizzotto (#7) congratulates members of the St. Anthony’s HS (Jersey City, NJ) basketball team after an exhibition game against a team of EcoMedia, UnitedHealthcare, and Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation representatives as part of the Team 8 program. (Photo credit: Eric Smith, CBS EcoMedia)


GSB: So COOL! What’s next for EcoMedia?

PP: In addition to connecting advertisers with causes, we also want to connect directly with the segment of the public that is cause-driven. We’re doing this with our latest initiative, Viewers to Volunteers. With V2V, users can, via their computer, tablet or phone, direct sponsor ad dollars to environmental, education, wellness and veterans’ non-profits. Since 2015, with the support of Toyota, Chevy, and Winthrop Hospital, over $1.3 million has been donated to nonprofits—simply as a result of our V2V users reading, viewing, and sharing positive content.

GSB: This is, of course, terrific, Paul. Really great. It seems as though, through CBS EcoMedia, you’ve been able to fuse Green—and other causes—with sports—along with other CBS media platforms. My question is, why is Green-Sports still a relatively small, unknown niche? And what do you think its larger potential is?

PP: Lew, climate change is the most serious issue of our time. Any way we can raise awareness and interest is crucial, and the best way to do that is to connect with folks around their passions. And sports IS passion. We have to expose fans to environmental innovations and initiatives where they go to enjoy, and participate in, sports—at stadiums, arenas, and during athletic competitions and events on TV and smaller screens. Where there is passion, there is the opportunity to solve big problems. So the number of corporations using sports to promote green initiatives will only grow, I know it.

GSB: Couldn’t have said it better myself!


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GSB News and Notes: Pope Francis and The Vatican Engage on Green-Sports, the EcoHelmet, Leilani Münter to Race Teslas

Big things are happening at the intersection of Green + Sports. Last week, as reported in GreenSportsBlog, Barack Obama became the first US president to publicly speak about the greening of sports on the first Green Sports Day. But President Obama wasn’t the only global mega-leader to engage on the issue. Last Wednesday in Vatican City, Pope Francis opened Sport at the Service of Humanity, a 3-day conference about the power of faith and sport. Environmental issues were prominently featured on the agenda. In addition, from the “New, Green-Sports Product” world, an affordable, collapsible, recyclable bicycle helmet may become reality. And finally, GreenSportsBlog fave Leilani Münter became the first American driver in the all-Tesla Electric GT Championship.  Yes, today we have a particularly newsy News & Notes column.



Green-Sports leading light Allen Hershkowitz, President Emeritus of the Green Sports Alliance and co-founder of Green Sports International, the National Hockey League’s Pat LaFontaine and Omar Mitchell—responsible for NHL Green—and Pope Francis were among the luminaries from the faith, corporate, NGO and academic worlds who attended the first Sport at the Service of Humanity conference at The Vatican that ran from October 5 to 7. The Pope gave the opening address.


Pope Francis arrives at the Paul VI Audience Hall in Vatican City for his opening address at the Sport at the Service of Humanity conference. (Photo credit: AFP)


According to Hershkowitz, the ability of sports to positively impact environmental issues, including climate change, was given prominence at the conference along with the “power of sport to improve the lives of refugees and the disabled…Gender equity and LGBT issues also were front and center.”

To my mind, this is as it should be. Addressing ecological pressures and improving the living conditions of refugees and the disabled are topics that should lead the agenda of a Vatican-run conference. And the speed with which this pope has moved forward on gender equity and LGBT issues is stunning. That the environment/climate change was “in the room” with these massive global issues is a big deal. And yet, it’s not a surprising deal, considering Pope Francis’ widely praised, climate change-focused 2015 encyclical Laudato Si and the solar panels that top roofs of many Vatican buildings.

And, with apologies to FDR, Green-Sports’ inclusion was a new deal. “The theme of the conference was ‘What Problems Can Sports Help to Solve?’ The thing is, many of the stakeholders I talked to had never engaged on environmental issues, so the idea of sports solving environmental problems was completely new to them,” said Hershkowitz. Once briefed, leaders from organizations like the YMCA and the Olympic Committee of Jordan “quickly saw how sports could help generate meaningful action on CO2 reduction, on deforestation, on plastic waste.”

Hershkowitz expects new collaborations and programs to stem from Sport at the Service of Humanity but cautions that progress necessarily will be made up of many “little things that add up to big results.”



New product innovation at the intersection of Green + Sports is going strong in 2016, particularly when it comes to cycling. In July, GreenSportsBlog featured the Free Electric Hybrid Bike that powers a home for 24 hours with only one hour of pedaling. A few months earlier, we highlighted the Bike Washing Machine—yes, you will be able to do the laundry while pedaling if this product, now working its way through the development cycle, courtesy of a group of students in China, gets to market.

Now, we bring you the EcoHelmet, an affordable, collapsible, biodegradable helmet from innovative industrial designer Isis Shiffer. As detailed in a September 30 story from Mindy Weisberger in Live Science, EcoHelmet is “made entirely of cardboard, folds up accordion-style to about the size of a banana and is compact enough to fit in a laptop bag. It unfolds to fit just like a traditional helmet, cushioning the wearer’s head with honeycomb-patterned paper that absorbs and distributes impacts, protecting cyclists from injury.”


EcoHelmet, a reusable, recyclable, biodegradable and collapsible alternative to bulky helmets. (Photo credit: Isis Shiffer)

EcoHelmet was one of 20 new product designs—out of more than 1,000 submissions—selected by the James Dyson Foundation selected for the 2016 James Dyson Award Engineers Shortlist. The contest’s International Winner will be selected from this list on October 27.

EcoHelmet caught my eye for three reasons:

  1. The recyclability aspect of EcoHelmet connects with the GreenSportsBlogger in me: It is made of lightweight and recyclable paper honeycomb. Its lightness does not diminish its ability to absorb impacts: per Wesisberger, “paper honeycomb is used in packaging for helicopter drops in crisis zones.”
  2. EcoHelmet’s collapsible nature jazzes the urban cyclist in me. The advent of bike sharing (another great, cycling-related, green-sports innovation—more cycling miles ridden should mean less vehicle miles driven) in many cities, including New York has led to an increase, at least based on my own, admittedly unscientific eye test of cyclists in Central Park, of un-helmeted riders. This drives me nuts: I have had two serious falls but was spared lasting head/brain injury because I was wearing a helmet. Being able to collapse one’s helmet into a briefcase is a significant feature. “For a helmet to work in a bike-share arena, it has to be able to fold up and be reused,” Shiffer told Weisberger.
  3. The product’s affordability—it is projected that EcoHelmet will be able to be sold for $5 each—is a key selling point.



GreenSportsBlog fave Leilani Münter makes her third appearance on our pages this year (click here and here for the first two) with the announcement that the “eco, vegan, hippie chick with a race car” is joining the fledgling Electric GT (EGT) racing series. Münter becomes EGT’s first American and second female driver.

EGT’s inaugural season, which kicks off early next year, will feature a fleet of modified rear-wheel drive Tesla Model S P85+ vehicles. As compared to the 3-year old Formula E series, which uses open wheel vehicles, EGT is the first racing series dedicated to production run electric cars. The The Tesla Model S 85 kWh battery pack is significantly larger than Formula E’s 28 kWh version. Thus, a Model S-based race car will 1) stay on the track much longer and 2) generate higher speeds than a Formula E car. 

Münter has a strong history with Tesla: she drives a Model S at home in Charlotte, NC and she appeared with Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk in the Emmy-nominated documentary Racing Extinction, drawing attention to the human impact on climate change and mass extinction of wildlife. EGT is banking on both Münter’s driving skills and her charismatic evangelism on the climate change fight and vegan lifestyle to help build awareness. 


Leilani Münter will be driving a Tesla Model S in the inaugural season of the all-electric EGT series. (Photo credit: Teslarati)

Fans can watch EGT live via Periscope, Twitch, YouTube and other social media outlets. Each event will consist of a 20-minute practice session, 30 minutes of qualifying, a 37-mile (60km) daytime race and a 37-mile race at dusk. The races will be the centerpiece of a weekend-long festival of sustainable technology and innovation.

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GreenSportsBlogger Interviewed for a 2nd Time on Talk With Green Guy Radio Program

Before Gang Green (aka my New York Jets) soured another Sunday with an all-too-predictable 31-13 loss at Pittsburgh, the GreenSportsBlogger started the day on a much brighter note—by talking Green-Sports on the Talk With Green Guy radio program.


This was a big week at the intersection of Green + Sports (Barack Obama becoming the first US president to talk about Green-Sports in public, the first Green Sports Day). We covered it here at GreenSportsBlog on Friday and we got to talk about it on the radio on Sunday morning.

Eric Moncrief, host of the Talk With Green Guy radio show on Atlanta’s iHeart Radio station, WGST Talk Radio AM 640, brought me on to his show for the second time in about a month to talk Green-Sports. In addition to the Obama-Green Sports mention, we discussed the new roof garden atop Levi’s Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, as well as the Golden 1 Center, the new, LEED Platinum home of the Sacramento Kings.


Eric Moncrief, host of the Talk With Green Guy radio program on Atlanta’s WGST AM 640. (Photo credit: Eric Moncrief)


Click here to find the link to the show. My 15-ish minute segment starts at the 20:45 mark but Eric’s entire 39 minute show is well worth the listen. Enjoy!


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Obama Talks Green Sports on the First Green Sports Day

When we look at 2016 in the rear view mirror as far as Green-Sports is concerned, two dates, about two months apart, will stick out: August 5 and October 6. On the former, climate change was featured prominently at the Opening Ceremony of the Rio Olympics. This reached a global audience estimated to be up to 1 billion people. And on the latter, the first-ever Green Sports Day, President Obama talked publicly for the first time about the intersection of Green + Sports at a White House event honoring the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.


Yesterday was a day of three firsts at the White House.

Speaking at a ceremony honoring the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, President Barack Obama noted that, for the first time in history, a US President welcomed eight Cup winners exclusively from US cities^ (sorry, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau).

But the bigger first coming out of the event was that, for the first time ever, a US President spoke publicly about Green-Sports. President Obama thanked the Penguins for being “leaders in the Green Sports Alliance, [making] their facilities more energy and water efficient, lowering their carbon footprint when they travel,” and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and the the league for its innovative role in environmentally sustainable sports because “we wanna continue to have ice so that we can play hockey.”


President Barack Obama honors the 2016 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins at a White House ceremony on October 6. He cited the Penguins and the NHL for their leadership at the intersection of Green + Sports (Green-Sports section of the talk starts at 6:41 mark of the video).


The President made this announcement on the first Green Sports Day, as proclaimed by the Green Sports AllianceIn a letter, President Obama highlighted that the “Federal Government is proud to work with America’s sports community to promote sustainability.” One such community is the NHL, which just completed its second consecutive carbon neutral season thanks to a partnership with Constellation. The President lauded the league for being the “25th largest user of green power in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership.”



In addition to the NHL, a Green Sports Day Fact Sheet put out by the White House recognized the breakthrough work that has already been done and is being planned by a litany of Green-Sports All Stars, some of whom will no doubt be familiar to GreenSportsBlog readers. These include:

  • The Green Sports Alliance (GSA), cited for its new Measure It! initiative (planned launch: January 2017) designed to increase the number of sports teams, leagues, and venues who measure and report their energy, waste, and water-reduction efforts.
  • 11th Hour Racing, Official Sustainability Partner of 2017 America’s Cup contender Land Rover BAR, noted for its plan to engage thousands of fans at its Exploration Zone about the effects of a warming ocean and to share solutions to increase the resiliency of coral-reef ecosystems. Exploration Zone will be located at the team base in the America’s Cup Village in Bermuda, site of the 2017 America’s Cup finals.
  • University of Colorado Environmental Center (along with GSA), earned a mention for the launch of its new College Sports Water Resiliency Challenge.  The Challenge “invites college presidents, chancellors, and athletic directors to pledge ambitious water-resilience goals for their campus sports programs.”
  • US Tennis Association got a nod for the upcoming launch of its “first-ever environmental messaging campaign targeted at its more than 700,000 individual members and more than 7,800 organizational members across the United States and culminating at the 2017 US Open.” Amen to that as GreenSportsBlog loves powerful fan engagement programs.


Hopefully, this day of Green-Sports firsts at the White House will be followed in short order by seconds, thirds, and more.


^ During his two terms in office, President Obama welcomed the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, 2011 Boston Bruins, 2012 LA Kings, 2013  Chicago Blackhawks, 2014 LA Kings, 2015 Chicago Blackhawks, along with the 2016 Penguins.


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Honoring Mark Teixeira, Green-Sports All Star, As He Retires from Yankees

Last Sunday, Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees played in the final game of his illustrious career at age 36. Over his 13 years in the big leagues with Texas, Atlanta, the LA Angels as well as the Yanks, Tex hit 409 home runs, leading the American League in 2009 with 39. That year, he and his Yankees teammates christened the New Yankee Stadium by winning the World Series. The slick fielding first basemen also earned 5 Gold Glove awards. 

But it is Teixeira’s stellar, off-field work at the intersection of Green and Sports that draws our attention today.

One of our primary goals for 2016 is finding and telling the stories of high profile Eco-Athletes. Back in February, we interviewed Teixeira about his work as a Board Member and founding investor for the Emerald Corridor Foundation, an Atlanta-based non-profit dedicated to restoring green space and waterways in blighted urban areas. Teixeira certainly qualifies as an innovative, important Eco-Athlete.

In honor of Teixeira’s retirement, we are pleased to re-run that interview. Congratulations, Tex; we look forward to reporting on your future Green-Sports contributions.


GreenSportsBlog: How did you come to be involved with an environmental non-profit?

Mark Teixeira: Since I was a kid in the Baltimore suburbs, I loved being outdoors. Like any sports-minded kid, I played all day long…Not only baseball but soccer, basketball, tennis…I also got to experience nature at a young age, through fishing and, then as an adult, hunting. I was able to visit the 1,300 acre farm my wife’s mom lived on. It sounds cliché but I’ve always appreciated God’s Green Earth. And I know that we have to protect it, especially for kids who don’t have access to it.

GSB: Is that why you’ve been involved with Harlem RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) since you’ve been with the Yankees?

MT: Absolutely! Harlem RBI is a phenomenal program that I’m proud to be a part of. It can positively impact kids’ lives from the moment they wake up and until they go to sleep. Not only do we get the kids to play baseball, out in the fresh air, we run a charter school that gives them a chance at a better education, a healthier life.


New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, teaching an aspiring baseball star as part of his work with Harlem RBI. (Photo credit: Harlem RBI)


GSB: Being a New Yorker, I’ve always thought that the Yankees, who play in a glittering palace in one of the poorest Congressional Districts in the US, with the highest asthma rate, have a particular responsibility to help kids in the Bronx and northern Manhattan (Harlem, Washington Heights) to eat healthier food, get to play in good conditions. It’s terrific that you’re helping to make that happen with Harlem RBI. Let’s turn to the Emerald Corridor Foundation. What is it and how did you get involved?

MT: Well, I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta—so did my wife—and then played with the Braves. So I knew Atlanta really well and loved the area. I had gotten involved in a few small environmental greening projects before that. But in ’08 I was approached by some investors in Atlanta who had a BIG idea: To restore a huge swath of Northwest Atlanta…

GSB:…The Emerald Corridor?

MT: Exactly. It basically makes up a big part of Northwest Atlanta and is impoverished, with all of the signs of urban blight…High crime, high unemployment, low hope. But, it happens that this area sits on what once was spectacular green space, with stunning natural beauty—streams, woodlands. So my investors and I decided to, as we call it, “Lead with Green”—to make this a beautiful, natural and healthy place that people want to visit and live in instead of one that people want to avoid.

GSB: That sounds like a Herculean challenge…

MT: In one sense, you’re right—this size of urban redevelopment combined with restoration of natural habits has never been done before. On the other hand, we have a fantastic canvas—the Emerald Corridor will link 400 acres of reclaimed land, parks and green space to revitalized communities…

GSB: …This would be impossible to accomplish in, say, the Bronx.

MT: True—in Atlanta, we have the space…and it’s space that’s close to the city center. The area we’re talking about in Northwest Atlanta is only 2.5 miles from where I went to school at Georgia Tech and about the same distance from downtown.

GSB: That’s the key—and the difference between urban renewal in a sprawling, newer city and a densely populated, older one. Talk to us about the Emerald Corridor project specifics.

MT: Well, #1 is we need to make the area clean and safe. This will make current residents feel better and draw new ones to the area. So to do that, the Emerald Corridor Foundation is taking on three main projects: CLEANUP of a 7-mile stretch of Proctor Creek, building new PARKS and establishing new TRAILS.

Proctor Creek

A portion of Proctor Creek that will be cleaned up by the Emerald Corridor Foundation. (Photo credit: Emerald Corridor Foundation)


GSB: Tell us more about the Cleanup effort…

MT: This will take the longest of the 3 as it is the most complex. There are multiple land owners, the Army Corps of Engineers will work to improve water quality and overall aesthetics and to restore the creek’s natural systems. This will, among other things, improve the status quo that includes flooding and pollution in close-in neighborhoods, the result of largely unchecked industrial activity, dumping, and insufficient storm water capacity. This project will start in 2017.

GSB: What about the parks and trails?

MT: Both are crucial to bringing people back to Northwest Atlanta, as visitors or new residents. Proctor Park will largely be complete by end of 2017. The 1st two miles of hiking and biking trails will start construction next year.

GSB: How will Emerald Corridor be connected to the rest of Atlanta? Is easy access to mass transit part of the plans?

MT: Mass transit is integral to the plan. Proctor Creek, Proctor Park and the new education center will all be close to a MARTA station. This is going to be a walking, cycling, playing green urban neighborhood, and also one from which you can commute to downtown without having to drive. We’re not only restoring nature, we’ll be taking vacant land in the area and turning it into affordable housing in what we are convinced will become a model for other projects in other cities. And this will be a jobs driver—the infrastructure projects will result in a more sustainable community and business climate. Invest Atlantasays we could be talking 15,000 jobs or more.

GSB: Holy Cow! This really is an incredible vision that you and your team are now starting to turn into reality. How did such a big project actually come to pass, especially if you started in 2008, at the heart of the financial crisis?

MT: As we talked about earlier, we were with the Braves in 2007-2008, and I wanted to make a difference, wanted to get involved with urban renewal and giving folks access to nature. I was introduced to some local real estate folks who shared the same vision. And, given the financial collapse, the real estate market was both ripe and in need of capital. I became the lead investor in the project…

GSB: But then, in 2009, you came to the Bronx and helped the Yanks win their 27th World Series in their first year in the new Yankee Stadium (THANK YOU!)–How did you keep track of the project from New York?

MT: …My dad, who knows infrastructure from his time in the US Navy and at Northrop Grumman, helps to manage it. And, I’ll tell you, it’s been a very long process from concept stage—with meetings with the City of Atlanta, the Trust for Public Lands and many others. We started in 2008 but only became an established 501-C3 non-profit in late 2014. And now, finally, we’re at the point of moving forward.

GSB: That is one, long at bat. I think GreenSportsBlog will have to make a trip to Atlanta in 2017 to check out progress on the Emerald Corridor. Before I let you go, I’d like to quickly change the subject to Eco-Athletes: Identifying more Eco-Athletes is a key mission for GreenSportsBlog in 2016—so I’m beyond glad that I found you! Overall, though, there are relatively few that I’m aware of. Why do you think that is and do you think this will change?

MT: I know that athletes have been slow to get into the environment and climate change. Part of that is because you only have time for 1-2 causes max—and things like fighting cancer, domestic violence, or supporting inner city education are more established and perhaps simpler. But the environment will catch on with athletes—it’s in its infancy. It’s like with technology—I’m an early adapter but more and more Eco-Athletes will follow—and soon. I do know that, since I hope to have 3-4 more years left of my playing career, I plan to be an Eco-Athlete and an Eco-EX-Athlete for years to come.


Mark Teixeira: New York Yankee, philanthropist, Eco-Athlete (photo credit: Major League Baseball Players Association)


GSB: The Green-Sports movement and Atlanta will be all the better for that. In the meantime, it would be great if you could help the 2016 Yankees get that 28th World Championship. Here’s to a great, healthy season in the Bronx and to much success with the Emerald Corridor Foundation.


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