Happy New Year to you, GreenSportsBlog readers! Thank you for your comments, suggestions and consistent support throughout 2016; keep ’em coming in 2017. Speaking of 2017, the climate change fight is facing some stiff headwinds in the US that were unexpected as recently as November 7, 2016. How will the increasingly high profile Green-Sports world react? With that in mind, let’s take a look at “What 2 Watch 4” in Green-Sports in 2017.
January 20: Inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States; Washington, DC.
What a difference a POTUS can make in Green-Sports.
Barack Obama was the first US president to engage in Green-Sports. He publicly praised the Pittsburgh Penguins for their greening initiatives at a White House ceremony in October and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted Green-Sports roundtables on his watch.
President Obama lauds the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL for their sustainability leadership at the White House in October, 2016. (Photo credit: TMZ)
His successor, Donald J. Trump, is a climate change skeptic/denier who has nominated a climate change denier as EPA Administrator and promises to remove the United States from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.
How will the Green-Sports world react to President Trump? With the US government expected to pull back from the climate change fight, the private sector and the general public will need to, pardon the pun, pick up the green ball and run with it harder and faster than before. This is a great opportunity for leaders at the intersection of Green + Sports (commissioners, teams, sponsors, eco-athletes, non-profits) to play a pivotal role in accelerating the impetus for positive climate action.
February 7: Super Bowl LI; Houston, TX
What a difference a year makes in terms of the greenness of the Super Bowl Host Committee.
At this point last year, we were wondering whether The Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee would make good on its audacious promise to deliver “the greenest Super Bowl ever.” The answer, for the most part, was a resounding yes. Here are just a few of the Committee’s many sustainability accomplishments at Super Bowl City in San Francisco (the 9-day festival ahead of the game) and at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara:
- Ensured, working with regional transportation agencies, there was ample public transit during Super Bowl week. Gate Ferry ridership during Super Bowl Week increased by 81 percent vs. 2015.
- Partnered with the San Francisco Bike Coalition to establish a bike valet at Super Bowl City for the entire 9-day activation.
- Sold tickets to a ‘Fan Express’ charter bus system for transport to Levi’s Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday from pick-up points throughout the Bay Area. The buses, from Google’s fleet, ran on Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel and removed approximately 2,000 cars from the road on Super Bowl Sunday.
- Worked with PG&E, the Official Clean Energy Partner, to run Super Bowl City on clean, temporary power. 91% of temporary power in Super Bowl City was supplied by Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel generators, which reduced emissions and improved air quality.
- Engaged master food concessionaire Legends to serve locally-sourced (within 75 miles) and/or organic food in Super Bowl City.
- Free water stations were provided by U.S. Pure Water and FloWater. FloWater estimated it diverted 14,580 single use plastic bottles from landfill.
Click here for more details.
The hope was that the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee would, pardon the pun, take the sustainability baton from the Bay Area folks and run with it.
This appears not to be the case.
Yes, the Houston Host Committee is working closely with the NFL Environmental team as part of the NFL’s Super Bowl LI Environmental efforts. This is a continuation of the league’s 15+ year Super Bowl greening program. In Houston, the NFL is offsetting the energy consumed at the game; the league, Host Committee, Houston Texans and Verizon are helping to plant trees.
The NFL, Houston Super Bowl Committee, Verizon and the Houston Texans team up to plan trees in advance of Super Bowl LI.
But, with the maturing of Green-Sports, these actions, welcome though they are, seem like the “cost of doing green business.” It is up to local Host Committees to make their Super Bowls beacons for environmental action. The Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee showed future Host Committees the way. The Houston Host Committee, unfortunately, chose not to take that baton.
- The City of Houston has a longstanding, comprehensive greening initiative, Green Houston.
- EPA ranked Houston the #1 user of Green Power in the country in 2015.
- Texas is, by far, the top producer of wind power in the US.
- The state is home to another great natural resource, climate scientist and climate change communicator extraordinaire, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University.
- Heck, Neste, the renewable diesel company that partnered with the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, has its US base in Houston.
So it’s “Wait ‘Til Next Year” for Host Committee greening as we soon turn our attention to Minnesota, the Vikings and US Bank Stadium in advance of Super Bowl LII next February.
February 22-23: Sustainable Innovation in Sport Conference; Munich, Germany
Following a successful launch at the historic COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in late 2015, Sustainable Innovation in Sport will convene for a second time, bringing together an international lineup of Green-Sports leaders and influencers to discuss how best to accelerate the pace of positive environmental impacts via sport.
A sampling of confirmed speakers includes Vivianne Fraisse, Head of Sustainable Development at Roland Garros/French Open, Michelle Lemaitre, Head of Sustainability at the International Olympic Committee (IOC); Frederik Lindgren, Head of Corporate Sustainability for the European PGA Tour, and Norman Vossschulte, Director of Guest Experience with the Philadelphia Eagles.
June 3: UEFA Champions League Final, Principality Stadium; Cardiff, Wales
The European Champions League, comprised of the best soccer clubs across the continent and the British Isles, is a 32 team competition running from September to June. The Sweet 16 commences in February with the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Real Madrid battling to make it to the Super Bowl of Club Soccer at 74,500 seat Principality Stadium (formerly known as Millennium Stadium) in Cardiff, Wales.
Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales; site of the 2017 UEFA Champions League final. (Photo credit: Footballtripper.com)
The first Champions League final to be played in Wales will take place in Great Britain’s first ISO 2012-1 (standard for sustainable events) certified stadium and, according edie.net, a leading British sustainability-focused market research firm, one of the six greenest stadiums in the world. This is quite remarkable since Principality Stadium is not new—it opened in 1999—and was built without sustainability in mind. But things changed dramatically in 2010 when stadium owners announced their intention to significantly green operations.
- Recycling and especially composting were far from standard operating procedure at British sporting facilities in 2010. Yet by 2012, Principality Stadium diverted 98.4 percent of its waste from landfill.
- LED lighting and smart grid electronic systems were installed, along with water controls, leading to meaningful reductions in carbon emissions and water usage.
- Further carbon emissions ensued as sustainability was imbued into the stadium’s supply chain processes.
June 27-29: Green Sports Alliance Summit; Sacramento, CA
The seventh Green Sports Alliance Summit will be held at Golden1 Center, the new, LEED Platinum home of the Sacramento Kings, recently named GreenSportsBlog’s Greenest New Arena of 2016.
The theme for Summit 2017 is Play Greener: Engaging Fans, Athletes & Communities.
GSA is certainly on the right track here: The Green-Sports Movement needs more eco-athletes to speak out on behalf of positive environmental action and the climate change fight. Doing so will draw many more fans and communities to the cause.
To quickly maximize awareness of and interest in Green-Sports among fans, there is one constituency that needs to be added to the Play Greener lineup.
There is a mutually beneficial, (Green-Sports) Movement-Media tango to be danced here.
The Movement needs the Media (sports, green, business and mass): Unless the many great Green-Sports stories told at the GSA and elsewhere are exposed to the broad audience of sports fans and thought leaders through the media megaphone, it will be difficult for the Movement to grow far beyond its current niche.
The Media needs the Movement: Actually, what the media really needs is eyeballs. And a fast-maturing Green-Sports Movement (climate change montage was featured at the Rio Olympics opening ceremonies, LEED certified stadiums are expected, etc., etc.) has plenty of inspiring, forward looking content to attract lots of eyeballs.
Late June-Early July: Mercedes-Benz Stadium Opens, new home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United F.C.
The Atlanta Falcons, thanks to having the second best record in the NFC, are enjoying a week of rest before their playoff run to a potential Super Bowl LI berth begins.
Rest is not something Scott Jenkins is getting much of these days.
Jenkins is General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new LEED Platinum home of the Falcons and MLS expansion club Atlanta United F.C. that is set to open in late June or early July. It will be the first LEED Platinum stadium in the world (the aforementioned Golden1 Center in Sacramento is the first LEED platinum arena.) He also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Green Sports Alliance.
Scott Jenkins, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the future home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC, scheduled to open in 2017. (Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
Jenkins is implementing Falcons/Atlanta United F.C. owner Arthur Blank’s vision of top flight environmental performance in comprehensive fashion:
- Light: The LED lighting system will use 60% less electricity than the metal halides at Georgia Dome, the Falcons current home. Abundant natural light will enter the concourses through energy efficient, floor-to-ceiling glass. The Oculus-style (think camera lens) retractable roof, the signature feature of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, will, when open, also maximize natural light.
Artist’s rendering of the open “oculus” roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
- On-site Renewables: Solar panels on top of the garage nearest the stadium will, among other things, power charging stations that provide juice for EVs parked below.
- Green Space: The Georgia Dome will be demolished; in its place will be new, grassy open space for tailgating and non-game day community use.
- Rainwater Collection: Rainwater will be collected and used for irrigation and cooling towers.
- Food: Farm-to-table and organic offerings will be available throughout the building.
- Mass Transit: The stadium will be served by 2 MARTA light rail stops.
September 13: 2024 Summer Olympics Host City Announced; Lima, Peru
Three cities remain in the bidding to host the 2024 Summer Olympics: Budapest, Los Angeles, and Paris. Paris, which hosted in 1900 and 1924 and lost out on bids in 1992, 2008 and 2012, is the betting favorite, with current odds from British online bookmaker NicerOdds.com standing at 1.6 to 1. Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 summer games, is 2.75 to 1. First time bidder is the long shot at 8 to 1.
- The Budapest bid’s compactness stands out: Most of the events would take place within seven clusters within the city proper along the Danube. Access by boat, metro and bus will be augmented by Active Route Network (ARN), an innovative bike share program. Five of the seven clusters can be reached from the city center by bicycle in 20 minutes or less.
- Sustainability is, arguably the Los Angeles bid’s centerpiece. Every event will be contested in an existing or temporary facility. From the Rose Bowl to the Staples Center, from the new Rams stadium to the Coliseum, the sports infrastructure is there. The Olympic Village will use existing housing.
- The Paris 2024 committee sees the city’s status as a global sustainability leader as a major plus. After all, the 2015 global climate pact signed in The City of Lights by 195 countries is known as the Paris Agreement. And, as reported by GamesBids.com, since the signing of the agreement, Paris 2024 has launched several major green initiatives, including “700 charging stations for electric cars, the regeneration of 55,000 square meters of urban land in the [city centre] to be converted into green space, the pedestrianization of 3.3 km of the right bank of the River Seine, a promenade for walking, jogging and cycling, creating an environmental charter implemented at major events such as the EURO 2016 football championships.”