GSB News and Notes: Richmond, Boulder and Sacramento Lead Green-Sports Way


After a fascinating and energizing week in San Francisco covering the many facets of the Greening of Super Bowl 50, GreenSportsBlog returned to New York City to an inbox filled with sports-greening stories that had nothing to do with the Greenest Super Bowl Ever. S0 today, our GSB News & Notes column takes you from sea to shining sea for three tales of Green-Sports innovation.

Last August, GreenSportsBlog interviewed Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager for Virginia’s capital city, about its sustainability commitments for September’s 9-day Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Road Cycling World Championships. Reflecting Mayor Dwight Jones’ overall environmental priorities, Richmond went big on green for the World Championships.
According to Zatcoff, the city’s promises included “reducing waste through recycling, composting, and other means; reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation; being healthy (healthy, local food, healthy lifestyle, bike safety) and leaving a positive environmental legacy (bike friendly city, urban greening, sustainable events, etc.)”
Making good on those commitments would be challenging, mainly due to the tight timing: The pledges were made on April 22, 2015 (Earth Day) which meant Zatcoff and her small team had only 5 months, but a Usain Bolt 100 meter dash worth of time in the event-planning world, to get the job done.
Usain Bolt, if he’s reading this blog (and why wouldn’t he?), has to be proud, because the results, per the event’s Sustainability Report, were stellar. Here are some highlights:
Waste Reduction

  • Richmond diverted 76% of waste created by the event from the landfill, blowing by their target diversion rate of 60%

Carbon Footprint Reduction

  • The city calculated the event’s carbon footprint and then offset 100% of those emissions:
    • Total carbon emissions of 336 Metric Tons of CO2 Equivalent were offset by Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) provided by the City of Richmond Sustainability Office via its participation in the Dominion Green Power Program. Dominion Green Power RECs come from wind, solar and biomass.
    • Bike valets and event shuttle buses helped to take the equivalent of 3,600+ vehicles off the roads.

Bike Valet

Bike Valet at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships last September. (Photo credit: City of Richmond, VA)

Being Healthy

  • Increasing the amount of physical activity in folks’ daily routines was accomplished by Conquer the Cobbles, a cycling event that gave the public the chance to ride the race course the evening before athletes started racing.

Green Legacy

  • City Sustainability Office & VGTA is developing a Green Event Toolkit with free information and resources to help future events adopt sustainable practices.


The University of Colorado Boulder is teaming with its basketball fans at home games to restore water to the Colorado River Basin and to encourage community members to conserve water and energy at-home.

The Water for the West program, the latest in a series of sports-greening efforts resulting from a partnership between the CU Environmental Center and CU Athletics, prompts fans at home basketball games by public address announcements to send a text message pledging to conserve water. 

For every text pledge received, CU Athletics will restore 1,000 gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin through a partnership with Change the Course, a national water restoration initiative. Projects restore water by modernizing irrigation systems, strategically relocating water diversions and working collaboratively to conserve water during times of drought.  

Through Water for the West, CU Athletics is restoring 10 million gallons of water to projects in the state of Colorado, almost balancing the estimated 12 million gallons of water used annually by the department.

Change The Course

Change the Course is working with Colorado Athletics to restore water to the Colorado River Basin

“Reducing our water impacts and improving water supplies for people throughout the Pac-12 Conference region is an opportunity and responsibility we take seriously,” said CU Athletics Director Rick George. “Becoming water balanced is the next natural progression in a series of global leadership steps taken by CU Athletics.”

From the “How Cool is THAT?” file, the NBA’s Sacramento Kings took sports-greening in a novel direction by asking fans, as well as former and current players to donate their used rubber-soled shoes, to help green the construction of the team’s new arena.
Hold on a second..how does the collection of used Jordans help green an arena?
Here’s how: The Kings will use the recycled rubber from the donated shoes as part of the playing surface of the Golden 1 Credit Union Center, set to open in downtown Sacramento in time for the 2016-2017 season. As David Villa, writing in the January 14 issue of SportTechie, reports, “this unique playing surface is in the development process and supports the team’s commitment to constructing an arena that fosters sustainability.”
Kings Arena

Artist rendering of Golden 1 Credit Union Center, new home of the Sacramento Kings. (Credit: Nba.com)

The court is the result of a partnership between the Kings, Connor Sports, the gold standard of court manufacturing, and Nike. The latter, through its Nike Grind program, pioneered the transformation of donated shoes into running tracks and athletic fields. But an NBA basketball court? Aren’t they made of, you know, wood? Of course, but basketball courts have a foam layer below the wood and that’s where the donated sneakers come in.
Shoe collection took place on January 13, during the Kings’ home game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Fans were encouraged, per Villa, to “not only bring their shoes, but also to write a special message on them. During the game, fans tweeted the reasons why their shoes should be included in the new court using the hashtag #KingsCourt.”
The recycled shoe program is just one part of the club’s effort to gain LEED Gold status for the Golden 1 Center.

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  1. Great stories, Lew! Of course, I’m particularly proud of Alicia Zatcoff and the team in Richmond, VA, who just wrapped up the documentation for Gold certification by the Council for Responsible Sport. To use a baseball analogy, they touched `em all in their pursuit of staging a truly responsible event!

    1. Thanks for the comment. And congratulations to the Richmond UCI 2015 team for earning Gold Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport. Hopefully this helps to land the Virginia capital city more big sports events.

  2. wonderful sports stories, I love this, this is amazing

    1. Thanks Robin for the kind words. Keep reading GreenSportsBlog…and commenting.

  3. […] an innovative fan engagement aspect of the new arena’s greenness: The Kings will use recycled rubber from donated sneakers as part of the base of the playing surface. But as cool as that program is–and it is […]

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