GSB News-Notes: Green Austin Marathon, Final Four, and Forest Green Rovers Scores (Again!)


Texas is not the first state one thinks of in terms of Green-Sports leadership. But the Lone Star State is starting to move in that direction. In today’s TGIF News & Notes column, we take a look at last month’s Austin Marathon from a sustainability standpoint, courtesy of the Council for Responsible Sport. We also examine the greenness, or lack thereof, of the Men’s Final Four, hosted by Houston. Finally, we leave Texas to check in with our favorite team in the Green-Sports world, Forest Green Rovers of English soccer, and their recently-launched contest to design its new “eco-stadium.”
The Eugene, OR-based Council for Responsible Sport has “supported, certified and celebrated responsibly produced sports events” since 2007, with marathons and half marathons forming the core of the group’s work.
The Austin Marathon and Half Marathon became an early pilot partner of the Council back in 2008, testing their operations against, per the Council’s website, “the first set of standards and guidance on best practices for hosting responsible events.” Since then, the 26.2 mile race in Texas’ capital earned five consecutive certifications, but never reached the elusive Gold standard.
Until 2016, that is.
The organizers earned the race’s first Gold certification by meeting criteria for 45 of the best practice standards set forth by the Council across five categories, including: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy. Highlights include:

  • Mobile water dispensers, using city tap water in bulk, replaced the need for 17,000 single-use plastic water bottles at the race finish.
  • 87% of waste generated was diverted from the landfill through recycling and the composting of organics.
  • 70% of the total electricity used to power the event came from renewable energy sources, including from a rooftop solar installation at the Palmer Events Center, host event’s expo.
  • Rather than stuff goodie bags with product samples as in the past, a “samples table” was added at the expo to allow participants to self-select their samples, preventing waste from sometimes unwanted trial size products and packaging by the thousands.
    • I LOVE this approach! Even better, don’t give out anything. Instead, offer the runners the chance to choose one of, say, three environmental charities in the Austin area to which to donate–except the donation would come from the organizers in the amount of what the goody bags would’ve cost. What do you think?
  • And, while this last example has nothing whatsoever to do with sustainability, I just had to share it anyway: The event featured The Chase is On in which a local runner intentionally started the race in last place, then earned a pledged $3.51 per runner he passed during the marathon to benefit Family Eldercare, a local mission-driven hospice center. $11,185 was donated through the effort. AMAZING!

Houston Marathon

Volunteer members of the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon Green Team. (Photo credit: Aramco.com)

Kudos to the organizers at the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. It looks as though you richly deserved your Gold certification.

We’re almost two weeks beyond the are you kidding me? ending to the men’s NCAA national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston in which Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hit a 3-point shot to win the title as the buzzer went off. This, only 4.7 seconds after North Carolina’s Julius Page hit a double-clutch 3-pointer to tie the game. In case you’ve been under a rock, here’s a link to the entire sequence. You can’t cram much more sports drama into 15 seconds than those two shining moments.
Far less dramatic would be an examination of the Greenness of the 2016 Final Four. Was sustainability even in play? On the one hand, one would expect that sustainability would be baked into the Final Four as most mega-sports events embraces sustainability and we’re talking about college athleticscolleges which offer an increasing number of sustainability-focused courses and majors. On the other hand, Houston, the capital of the US oil industry, is not seen as a beacon of green. So what happened?
The main sustainability action appears to have been centered in the recycling arena.
NCAA Official Corporate Partner LG Electronics USA worked with the Houston Local Organizing Committee (HLOC) and electronics recycler EPC on a local e-waste recycling drive.
The program tipped off at Houston’s Discovery Green on March 13, the Sunday before the tournament began, in conjunction with Houston’s Selection Sunday celebration. Participants who dropped off unused and outdated electronics for responsible recycling received a free ticket to the Final Four Fan Fest  as well as LG March Madness-themed rebate offers on ENERGY STAR-certified consumer electronics and appliances.
Houston Final Four

Volunteers from the Houston Local Organizing Committee (HLOC) get ready to help fans who want to drop off old electronics for recycling in advance of the Final Four earlier this month. (Photo credit: Renewablenow.biz)

LG has a strong leadership profile in Responsible Electronics Recycling, which includes Gold Tier Award recognition in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge.
As for Houston, it can do better sustainability-wise. Aside from the LG recycling program, there didn’t seem to be much else that went on at the Final Four, green-wise. The city has a chance to up its game as it hosts an even bigger mega-event in just 10 months: Super Bowl LI. Can Houston raise the high sustainability bar set by the Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee in February? Color me skeptical but open-minded at this point.


It’s been exactly three months since GreenSportsBlog last mentioned Forest Green Rovers, the 5th division English soccer team that is also the Greenest Team in Sports. I know, I know–you don’t want to go into FGR withdrawal. Not to worry; the Rovers are BACK!
First of all, on the pitch, the club is comfortably in 2nd place in the Conference National division (5th level in English football) with three matches remaining. If they end up anywhere from 2nd to 5th they will compete in a 4-team playoff. Win that and promotion to League 2, the 4th level of English football, for the first time ever is the result. Fingers crossed.
As for off the pitch, and as reported in a story by Merlin Fulcher in the March 23rd edition of The Architect’s Journal, FGR “has opened an international design competition for a new sustainable and ‘fan-focused’,…’future-proof’ stadium near Stroud in Gloucestershire.”
The contest – organized with Preston, UK-based architects and sports specialist Frank Whittle Partnership – will select a design team for the new arena.

The contest is another example of how Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince, also the founder of clean energy company Ecotricity, constantly pushes the boundaries of Green-Sports. Per Fulcher’s piece, Vince announced the competition by saying, “We’ll be looking for radical, fan-focused stadium designs…First, it’s about sustainable construction, in terms of the material used, and second, it’s about the long-term operational stability of the stadium.”
Now, the club’s current New Lawn stadium is not old at all–it opened in 2006–and, as documented in GreenSportsBlog, Vince has greened it up to the nth degree, installing solar panels and the first organic pitch in the world and the vegan-only concession stands.
But Vince is not satisfied. So he’s starting over–from scratch.
The new FGR stadium is part of a planned $140 million, 40.5 hectare Eco Park that will include commercial offices and a new headquarters for Ecotricity. All-weather training pitches, multi-disciplinary sports facilities, a nature reserve and a sports hub will surround the stadium.
FGR Eco-Park

Artist’s rendering of the planned Forest Green Rovers Eco Park. (Credit: FWP Group)

Not surprisingly, Vince’s vision is big and bold: “Eco Park is going to be a place where green businesses and technology companies come together and share ideas, a real focal point of creativity and innovation for the area – and a part of the green industrial revolution that’s beginning to take off around the world.”
The deadline for applications is 30 April with a winner being announced in September.

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  1. […] mow-bots, to on-site solar, to its design contest that will result in a 22nd century-style, Eco-Stadium, Forest Green Rovers clearly deserves its “Greenest Team in Sports” […]

  2. Reblogged this on Happy Planet Running and commented:
    From the Green Sports Blog

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