News and Notes

GSB News and Notes: FIFA Commits to Climate Neutrality w/ UN; Levi’s Stadium Veggie Rooftop Garden; Zero-Waste Tailgating at Colorado-Boulder


Both the NFL and college football are in full swing. As are the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and all other major European football—as in soccer—leagues. It is therefore only fitting that our GreenSportsBlog News & Notes column be futbol and football heavy.

FIFA, the international governing body of world soccer, in partnership with the UN, committed to climate neutrality by mid-century, as well as to reduce carbon emissions at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Levi’s Stadium, the LEED certified home of the San Francisco 49ers and site of the most recent Super Bowl, became the first NFL stadium to open a rooftop garden.

And in a nod to the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the University of Colorado, Boulder, is going where no sports team has gone before by offering fans a Zero-Waste tailgate zone. 



FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, announced on September 8 that it became the first international sports organization to join the UN climate change secretariat’s Climate Neutral Now initiative. 

Climate Neutral Now represents a global community of corporations, NGOs/non-profits, events and individuals committing to becoming climate neutral by the second half of the 21st century. It launched last September, led by a founding group of corporations, including Microsoft, Sony, the adidas Group and Marks & Spencer. The Athens Marathon became the first major sports event to join.




While mid-century is still 36 years away, FIFA also made a carbon reduction and offsetting pledge for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. As FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura said, “We also commit, as we did in Brazil in 2014, to measuring, reducing and offsetting our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the next edition of the FIFA World Cup…Beyond that and through the power of football, we also aim to inspire greater awareness and best practices in sustainability standards.”

Measuring and offsetting GHG emissions are, of course, both crucial, but what’s really interesting to me is the emissions reduction piece. My original reading of FIFA’s statement led me to believe that FIFA would compare emissions from Russia 2018 against Brazil 2014. But, according to Lindita Xhaferi-Salihu of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), “reduction in the Climate Neutral Now context refers to those actions which will be undertaken by the organization (FIFA) to avoid GHG emissions from being generated.”  Once an organization identifies causes and sources of their emissions, they are in a good position to identify opportunities to reduce some of those emissions.” 

So the reduction to which FIFA is referring has nothing to do with 2014—it is all about reducing emissions for Russia 2018 vs. some to be determined benchmark. Per Ms. Xhaferi-Salihu, “FIFA and its partners will, in the near future, publish a projection of for FIFA World Cup 2018 footprint. Once all emissions sources associated with the event are identified, strategies for reducing these emissions will need to be devised. This is a very important step in Climate Neutral Now initiative.”

They then will measure the actual emissions of the event. So it’s Projected Emissions – Emissions Reductions = Actual Emissions. Those emissions would then be compensated for by credible offsets.

Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, site of the final game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. FIFA has committed to significant environmental actions and carbon offsets for the 2018 World Cup, on its way to carbon neutrality by mid-century. (Photo credit:


GSB’s Take: While I do understand that FIFA’s Climate Neutral Now pledge refers to measuring, reducing and offsetting Russia 2018 emissions, I do think it would be most meaningful for mega events like the FIFA World Cup and Olympics to come up with some kind of metric(s) that compare emissions in some meaningful fashion, over time (Brazil 2014 vs. Russia 2018).

Of course venues, the number of attendees, and travel miles to-from and travel within country all change. But perhaps there are ways to take these variables into account to come up with a calculation of carbon footprint intensity per World Cup/Olympics/etc.? I’m no expert on the math of it all and I know this type of calculation would be laden with all sorts of assumptions. Still I think an analysis of this sort would allow organizers of mega sports events to know if they are becoming more energy/carbon footprint efficient over time.



Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, set the bar for state-of-the-art green NFL palaces when it opened in 2014. Its green bona fides are legion—click here to read a GreenSportsBlog review from July 2014 to get a sense of how green the stadium is—and it was awarded LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council before it even hosted its first event.

While the Niners are expected to near the bottom of the league this season—they’re 1-1 after getting hammered, 46-27, at Carolina on Sunday—Levi’s Stadium continues to build on its “best in green class” reputation as it became the first in the NFL to open a vegetable garden on the roof—Faithful Farm. The Boston Red Sox, with Fenway Farms, were the first pro team in any sport to have a vegetable rooftop garden.

Writing in the September 8 issue of Ruling SportsAlicia Jessop shared that Faithful Farmlocated on the NRG Solar Terrace “spans 4,000 square-feet [and] since July, has been producing tomato, summer squash, pepper, eggplant and herb crops. Nearly 40 rotational crops and herbs have been planted in the garden, with each ingredient being harvested to use in dishes served at Levi’s Stadium.”


Faithful Farm, the new rooftop garden atop Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA, home of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo credit: San Francisco 49ers)


As Jessop’s notes, Executive Chef Dinari Brown and staff will provide fans with “truffled summer squash and Dungeness crab risotto, ratatouille nicoise, crispy tempura shishito peppers and shichimi dusted colossal prawns and heirloom tomato and fried eggplant napoleon.” 49ers fans can only hope the team’s play is as tasty as the food.



The University of Colorado-Boulder has been a leader of the green-sports movement on campus for several years now. Folsom Field, home of Colorado Buffaloes football, has been Zero-Waste¹ since 2008. 

But it’s one thing to go Zero-Waste inside a stadium; it’s quite another to do so in the parking lot. CU has done just that by transforming Franklin Field, the beautiful grass field adjacent to the stadium and a centerpiece of Colorado tailgating, into the Aluminum Can Zone Presented by Ball Corporation.

Franklin Field was a happy place to be on September 10 for two reasons: 

    1. The Buffaloes won their home opener with ease, 56-7 over the Idaho State Bengals, and,
  1. Fans were treated, as they will be all season, to a vehicle-free, family-friendly, and zero-waste tented tailgating experience. The area comes complete with recyclable aluminum containers, compostable food ware (courtesy of CU sponsor EcoProducts, featured in this 2015 GreenSportsBlog story), as well as compost and recycling receptacles. Interactive exhibits provide context for tailgaters, highlighting the sustainability leadership of both CU Athletics and Ball.

But, vehicle free? Now I’m sure some fans come to Colorado games by bicycle with their tailgate fixins’ loaded into their backpacks, but many if not most have to drive to campus. What about them? Not to worry, you car-driving-Buffaloes-fans-who-want-to-tailgate-at-Franklin-Field! You can park in the underground garage of the new, solar-powered Indoor Practice Facility adjacent to the Aluminum Can Zone.


Franklin Field at CU Boulder, site of Zero-Waste, vehicle-free tailgating (Photo credit: University of Colorado Athletics)


Let’s hope that Zero-Waste tailgating soon spreads from Boulder to a college football stadium near you!


¹ Zero-Waste = Diverting 90 percent or more of waste from the landfill.


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