Juventus: In a Sustainability Champions League of Their Own?

Juventus (you-VEN-toosse) are the Yankees of Italian soccer. In fact, the Yankees look up to the Torino-based club in terms of championships as the Bronx Bombers have 27 to “Juve’s” 31. On the pitch, Juventus is having a 2014-2015 for the ages as it is going for a Treble (3 championships in one season): It easily captured the Serie A (i.e. top tier) League season-long title, won the Coppa Italia, a March Madness-style tournament among all Italian pro teams, and will play Barcelona FC on June 6 in Berlin in the European Champions League Final (Juve are serious but live underdogs in the biggest club match of the year.) A 4th impressive aspect of the Juventus season was the publication of Towards Sustainabilityits first ever sustainability report. Juve gets major points for going through the rigor of issuing such a detailed report and, especially for building an environmentally friendly stadium. But the report shows the club has significant strides to make if wants to be an environmental sustainability champion.

 

Juventus is the gold standard of Italian calcio (soccer/football). It was the country’s first professional club and is, by far, its most successful. Only one family has owned it since its 1923 inception–the Agnellis, also known for being the owners of Fiat. And, as of 2014, Juve is one of only two clubs in Serie A, the top flight of Italian football, to have issued a sustainability report (AC Milan being the other.)

It is important to note that Towards Sustainability encompasses the broad ESG definition of sustainability, which includes not only environmental but also social and governance metrics. In fact, the social and governmental sections are much more robust and detailed than the environmental. Those include Health in Football and Anti-Doping, A Safe Stadium for Everyone, Football Tomorrow: No to Racism, Financial Sustainability, and Anti-Corruption*, among others.

Of course, the social and governance aspects of Juve’s operations are extremely important to the overall sustainability of its business but we’re GreenSportsBlog, so we’re most interested in environmental sustainability. And thus it is the Our Facilities and Environment section that drew our eye. And while there are some positive items on the club’s green score sheet, many aspects of Towards Sustainability left us wanting much more.

On the plus side, Juve earns high marks for its performance on three important green metrics:

  1. Stadium Construction: The club’s move Towards Sustainability began well before they published their sustainability report. When plans were developed in 2008 for a new stadium, environmental sustainability was central to the project. 41,000+ seat Juventus Stadium opened in 2011 with on-site solar, district energy heating systems (including solar thermal), and a rainwater reuse system. All the concrete from the old Stadio Delle Alpi was reused for the new building; other materials were recycled, resold or reused throughout the construction process. In addition to making environmental sense, these measures saved roughly $2.5 million in construction costs.
  2. Stadium Operations: Since Juventus Stadium opened, water consumption has decreased by 1.9%, electricity usage in the club offices has decreased by 10.0%, and, most importantly, the amount of heat generated through energy efficient “district energy” systems, which includes solar thermal, increased 3-fold.
  3. Team Travel: Players and coaches travel to and from most away matches by train, in a partnership with Trenitalia and its state-of-the-art Freccicarossa high speed rail line. The idea is, says the report, to increase train travel among fans.

Juventus Stadium

Juventus Stadium (Torino, IT), opened in 2011, is home of the 2014-2015 Serie A champs. The stadium was built with sustainability as a core feature. It includes on site solar and rainwater capture system. (Photo credit: Archetism.com)

 

Looking at the negative side of the ledger, Juve seems to have missed some easy green shots and thus could’ve moved more smartly towards environmental sustainability:

  • Much of the Facilities and Environment section is devoted to “The Continassa Project”, a plan to redevelop an almost 2 million square foot area adjacent to the stadium that is currently run-down and abandoned. Juventus’ new offices and a new training and media center will be built on the Continassa site, along with a hotel, a catering and innovation center and an international school. This is great. What’s not great is there is nothing about the greenness (or lack thereof) of the construction and/or operation of the renovated Continassa. Why not?

 Continassa

Artist rendering of the Continassa Project site, adjacent to Juventus Stadium. Continassa is a 2 million square foot redevelopment program that is listed a key facet in the Facilities and Environment section of Juventus’ sustainability report but environmental sustainability aspects are not mentioned. (Credit: 12alle12.it)

 

  • In “The Viewpoint of External Stakeholders”, an insert that appears throughout Towards Sustainability, including in the Environment section, the club notes some “stakeholder groups have suggested running campaigns to increase awareness of environmental issues among fans, encouraging them to use public transport.” I don’t know how you say “duh!” in Italian but that fits here. As mentioned above, Juventus touts its partnerships with Trenitalia and Frecciarossa as a way to increase fan train travel to away matches. Well, why not run Public Service Announcements (PSAs) encouraging fans to do just that? This one is as easy as kicking a ball into an empty net!

And, from GSB’s point of view, the biggest problem with Towards Sustainability is not what’s in it but what’s not.

  • While the report does measure electricity and water usage, it does not mention the associated carbon emissions, which is the key metric. Nor does it delve into emissions related to the club’s supply chain. In fact, not much is said about the supply chain at all and what is said has nothing to do with environmental metrics.
  • Despite the team’s use of rail to get to and from away matches, carbon emissions from travel are not reported. Were carbon emissions from team travel reduced by switching to rail travel? If so, by how much?
  • Recycling of waste at Juventus Stadium is not mentioned at all. Is it done? What is the overall diversion rate from landfill?

Compare Towards Sustainability to the NHL’s 2014 Sustainaiblity Report and one sees the massive distance Juventus needs to travel for their report to have real meaning on the environmental sustainability front.

All that said, our criticism is meant to be constructive. This is Juventus’ first sustainability report and they did devote 2 pages to “Areas of Improvement.” So we assume they are serious about improving environmental performance. Since the environmental “lacks” listed above were not mentioned in that section, we will send a copy of this post to club management to try and push them Towards Environmental Sustainability more quickly.

In the meantime, we wish Juventus luck vs. Barcelona. Winning that match may prove more difficult than getting improving their environmental sustainability scores.

* FIFA should take note of the Anti-Corruption section.

Please comment below!

Email us: lew@greensportsblog.com

Tweet us: @greensportsblog

 

 

 

 

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