GSB News and Notes: US Army Goes Green, Golf-Wise; Greenest College Hoops Arenas; Blazers Green Nights


The #GreenSports intersection is getting busier and busier–we had 7 items to choose from for today’s News & Notes column.  The 3 that made the cut really stood out: The Greening of Golf meets the US Army. A college hoops ranking–not of the best teams–but of the greenest arenas. And the Portland Trail Blazers blaze the green fan engagement trail.

Golf, by its very nature faces more significant inherent hurdles (most notably huge water and other natural resource consumption, risk-averse course management) than do most other sports. Despite the head winds, the Greening of Golf is moving forward, from the Zero Waste Waste Management Phoenix Open to improving water usage at courses in drought-ravaged and golf-mad California. Now the US Army has stepped up to the Green-Golf tee box, via a recently announced partnership with Audubon International to enroll its 45 golf courses in the Troy, NY-based non-profit’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf. US Army golf courses are found throughout the US as well as in Japan, Korea, and Europe.
Audubon International works with communities, developments, resorts and, yes, golf courses, in 36 countries to plan and implement sustainable natural resource management practices. It grew out of, but is not associated with the Audubon Society.
Are you surprised that the Army is getting into the Greening of Golf? Don’t be. The entire Department of Defense (DOD) is leading the way in the greening of large organizations and operations (think corporations, sports stadia). Why? According to DOD, going green means, among many other things, enhancing the success rate of current and future missions, safeguarding the health and the well-being of soldiers, families, and civilians, controlling costs, and protecting the natural environment. This is a huge story in and of itself that, sadly, few Americans are aware of. But it’s a story for another day, a different blog.
Ok, back to the links and the Cooperative Sanctuary Program. Each army golf course will undergo a review process including environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, and water quality management – with a goal of making voluntary improvements toward greater sustainability. Outreach and environmental education will accompany the greening.
USMA Golf Course

View from the 17th tee at the West Point (NY) Golf Course near the campus of the US Military Academy. It is one of 45 Army golf courses around the world that will participate in an innovative greening program in partnership with Audubon International. (Photo credit: US Military Academy)

The scale of this program is big, as befits the US Army; its golf facilities account for nearly two million rounds of golf each year. So this is a big deal. It will be an even bigger deal if the Air Force (67), Coast Guard (2), Marines (12) and Navy (32) courses join in. Here’s hoping they do soon. Hoo-AH!
In college sports, Top 10 lists abound. Why not? Our brains are wired to think in terms of 10s. 11s? One has to go back to 1984 and the classic, mock-u-mentary film, “This Is Spinal Tap,” in which the band’s lead guitarist, Nigel Dufnel (Christopher Guest), displays the band’s custom-made amplifier that “Goes to 11“^.
Well, John Egan, who ranked the Greenest Arenas in College Basketball in a January 6 column for LawnStarter.com, must be a Spinal Tap fan because his list does the same as the amplifier.
It offers some surprises, especially with its #1 ranked arena, the College Park Center (2012), the 7,000 seat home of University of Texas-Arlington Mavericks men’s and women’s basketball. While there may be some bias in this lofty ranking as LawnStarter.com is Austin, TX-based, there’s no denying the LEED Gold (new construction)-certified arena’s green bona fides, from energy-efficient glazed windows to native landscaping, from use of locally-sourced and recycled construction materials to high-efficiency HVAC systems.
College Park Center

College Park Center, home of University of Texas-Arlington men’s and women’s basketball, named by LawnStarter.com as the Greenest Arena in college basketball. (Photo credit: LawnStarter.com)

Rounding out the Top 5 are:
2. Towson (MD) University’s SECU Arena, 2013, LEED Gold (new construction), capacity: 5,000.
3. University of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena, 2011, LEED Gold (new construction), capacity: 12,364.
4. University of Michigan’s Crisler Arena, 2012 LEED Gold (renovation), opened 1967, capacity: 13, 751.
5. George Washington University’s (GWU) Charles E. Smith Center, 2011 LEED Gold (renovation), opened 1975, capacity: 5,000.
If you want to “Go to 11”, click here.
The NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers are a consistent green leader among North American pro sports teams and that leadership is on display again this season through a monthly “Green Games” fan engagement program. Each of those games highlights a different area of sustainability–energy, waste, food, water and transportation.

During each Green Game, Trail Blazers players wear pregame shooting shirts themed to the team’s sustainability goals. A special edition Portland water bottle from Liberty Bottleworks is featured as the retail “Item of the Game,” available only that night.

Perhaps most importantly, the club has invited its fans to take an active part in its efforts to be more environmentally conscious and to help reach a set of green goals at Moda Center by 2025. Here is the Green Game schedule for 2015-2016, along with a scorecard of how the club/arena and fans have done to date, green-wise, and where the Blazers want to be 9 years down the road:

Date Opponent Category Sustainability Efforts to date Goals for 2025
12/3 Indiana Energy Since 2008, the team has cut its energy use per event in half. It offsets all of the energy it uses. Reduce arena’s energy use by an additional 20%.
1/4 Memphis Waste Current diversion rate of 79% of facility waste from the landfill. 100% diversion rate.
2/4 Toronto Food 26% of Moda Center’s food sourced locally, 70%+ of our beer crafted locally#, and 3.5 tons of food recovered after events for people in need. All food in the arena will be local, organic and/or sustainable
3/8 Washington Water Reduced water use 29% since ’08. Reduce arena’s water use by an additional 10%; offset all water used.
4/6 Okla. City Transportation 35% of Trail Blazers fans travel to the game by public transportation, walking or biking. 50% of fans to travel to arena via public transportation, bike, or EV. Offset all of carbon emissions

As I read the scorecard, two things became apparent: 1. The Blazers are well on their way to reaching those 2025 goals–which means the green bar may need to be set higher, and 2. The rest of the NBA arenas should take the same/a similar approach. Watch this space as we will follow up with the NBA clubs that have control of their arenas.

^ If you need a 49 second laugh today, and you didn’t click on the link in the body of the story, click on it here. I’m not kidding. You’ll be glad you did.
# Hey, this is Portlandia after all.


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