Since 2013, GreenSportsBlog has told the stories of the great environmental work being done by teams, managers of venues and athletes. But as far as the sports side of the Green-Sports equation was concerned, we really didn’t go there.
Until last September, that is.
It was then that we launched GSB Eco-Scoreboard: Catching Up with Green-Sports Leaders on the Field, anoccasional series highlighting recent on-field/court results of the greenest teams and athletes. Why? Because if they do well, their green messages will gain a wider audience.
And if they struggle? Well, those of us engaged in the climate change fight know what struggle is all about. We can relate.
With that in mind, please enjoy our sixth Eco-Scoreboard.
ECO-LINEBACKER CONNOR BARWIN SIGNS WITH NEW YORK GIANTS; LOOKS TO MAKE 53 MAN ROSTER
Connor Barwin, the 31 year-old linebacker, recently joined his fourth NFL team when he signed a two-year contract with the New York Giants.
Barwin, who previously played with the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams, brings much needed pass rushing prowess to Big Blue’s defense (he’s notched 55.5 sacks over his first nine NFL seasons). And he also brings a passion for the environment that has been sorely lacking from the New York-New Jersey sports scene.
The former second round draft pick out of the University of Cincinnati has been very engaged on the environment — climate change in particular — throughout his career. While in Philadelphia, Barwin rode his bike to work, drove an electric car, and spoke out about climate in the community. And, as part of an endorsement deal with NRG, the Eagles energy sponsor and developer of the 11,000 panel solar system at Lincoln Financial Field, the linebacker helped install solar panels on residential roofs in the Philadelphia area and on missions to Haiti.
New York Giants LB Connor Barwin (r), then with the Philadelphia Eagles, helped install solar panels atop the roof of this couple’s home in Cherry Hill, NJ in 2015. (Photo credit: NRG)
In a 2014 interview with Jared Shelly of Philadelphia Business Journal, Barwin credits his dad with being the inspiration for his environmentalism: “My dad was a city manager who spent two decades pushing public transit in Detroit, the car capital of the world. He had a huge amount of civic pride which carried over to me as a child…It just seemed very instinctual and natural to take care of where you lived.”
With the Giants set to match up against the Jets tonight in their annual preseason battle for New York area bragging rights and the Snoopy Trophy (arguably the most meaningless trophy in sports — the game doesn’t count!), I will be focusing on two players.
As a diehard New York Jets fan, most of my attention and interest will be focused on rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and whether he can take the next step towards earning the starting job for opening night against the Detroit Lions.
And I will also be pulling for Connor Barwin to have a solid performance. He needs to play well since he’s not a lock to be on the Giants opening day roster, although most projections have him making the team. Assuming he does, Barwin will be able to bring his brand of eco-athlete leadership to the Big Apple.
VESTAS 11TH HOUR RACING RALLIES TO FINISH 5TH IN ROUND-THE-WORLD VOLVO OCEAN RACE DESPITE NOT STARTING TWO LEGS AFTER TRAGIC CRASH IN HONG KONG
Vestas 11th Hour Racing, the sailing team with the world class sustainability ethos, got off to a fast start in the ’round-the-world, 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race last fall. Led by a pair of Americans, skipper Charlie Enright and team director Mark Towill, the squad was in a tie for second place in the seven boat field after the race’s first three legs (Alicante, Spain to Lisbon; Lisbon to Cape Town; Cape Town to Melbourne, Australia).
Mark Towill, team director of Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo credit: Vestas 11th Hour Racing)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing skipper Charlie Enright (Photo credit: Vestas 11th Hour Racing)
And the team was near the lead towards the end of the Melbourne to Hong Kong leg when disaster struck about 30 miles out from the Hong Kong Harbor finish.
In the wee hours of the morning on January 20, Vestas 11th Hour Racing collided with an unlit fishing vessel. Despite a badly damaged bow, Towill# and the Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew carried out a search and rescue effort. Nine Chinese fishermen were rescued but one fisherman tragically passed away.
There are no words to describe how the loss of the fisherman’s life affected Towill, Enright, and every other member of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing squad.
But despite heavy hearts and the massive repairs resulting from the severe damage to the boat, the team decided to try to rejoin the race. They did so despite missing legs 5 and 6 (Hong Kong to Guangzhou, China, and then to Auckland, New Zealand), which meant there was no chance of winning.
Still, Vestas 11th Hour Racing rebuilt boat was at the start line for the Auckland to Itajai, Brazil leg. They were in second place coming around Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America, and then the mast fell over.
That had to be the end, right?
The team persevered, fashioning a new mast out of a light post.
Somehow Vestas 11th Hour Racing earned a strong third place showing in the Itajai to Newport, RI leg. They backed that up with another third place finish in the transatlantic Newport to Cardiff, Wales leg. The squad eventually ran out of steam, finishing sixth in the Cardiff to Gothenburg, Sweden race and last in the final leg, Gotenburg to The Hague, Netherlands.
Overall, Towill, Enright and Company persevered to earn a tortuous, costly but impressive fifth place finish.
A video review of Vestas 11th Hour’s challenging circumnavigation of the globe in the Volvo Ocean Race, focusing on sustainability and perseverance (9 min 44 sec)
Also impressive was this: At each Volvo Ocean Race stopover, the team met with a local non-profit to learn about their environmental work. Sustainability partner 11th Hour Racing awarded a $10,000 grant to each organization as part of their mission to leave a sustainability legacy beyond the race.
Will Enright and Towill make another run at the ’round the world race in 2021-22 and will they partner with 11th Hour Racing? That is all to be determined. The only thing we know for sure is that 2021-22 race will have new owners, with Atlant Ocean Racing Spain replacing Volvo (although Volvo cars will still be a sponsor).
# Towill substituted for Enright as skipper for Leg 4 because the latter had to sit out due to a family crisis.
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Corpus Christi, Texas became an unlikely center of the Green-Sports universe last month. That’s when the Youth Sailing World Championships brought a strong, new sustainability platform to the city on the Gulf of Mexico. It is fitting that leading the sustainability charge in South Texas was a relative newbie to Green-Sports, Elizabeth Kratzig.
GreenSportsBlog, always on the lookout for the next new thing, takes a look.
Elizabeth Kratzig has been sailing — and racing — almost all her life.
“I grew up on the water,” said Kratzig. “In fact, in 1991 I competed in the Youth Sailing World Championships (YSWC) in Scotland. Later, I competed for the US Sailing team and medaled in world championships in multiple classes. Then I coached 19 and unders for US Sailing.”
Sustainability? That’s a taste Kratzig acquired much more recently, as she was looking for ways to help her hometown, Corpus Christi, and the Corpus Christi Yacht Club in their bid to host the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships.
“As a member of the Corpus Christi Yacht Club, host of the Youth Worlds, and an avid sailor, I knew that I wanted to be involved with the organizing committee of the YSWC.” Kratzig related. “I asked myself, ‘How can I assist the regatta?’ What can we — the South Texas sailing community— do differently?’ I began to think about how we could better care for our playing field — the water — as well as the land and air around it. I began to think about how we could make this a green event.”
She didn’t only think about greening the event, she dove in.
So, once Corpus Christi won the bid to host the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships, Kratzig began volunteering with the Host Committee’s Green Team Committee (GTC), ultimately becoming its co-chair alongside Dr. David McKee. They brought in key people to the Green Team including leaders in local and state conservation groups, leaders from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and key personnel from city government.
Green Team Co-Chair, Elizabeth Kratzig, addresses competitors about how they can support the sustainability program at the Youth Sailing World Championships (Photo credit: Jen Edney/World Sailing)
And Kratzig, like the sailor she is, kept grinding towards greening the event: “We met with Sailors For The Sea, the Newport, RI nonprofit that certifies sustainable regattas, to learn about best practices. Finally, last September, we decided to go for platinum, their highest certification.”
LEAVING A SUSTAINABILITY LEGACY FOR SOUTH TEXAS
The Green Team worked with a variety of South Texas organizations, from the Corpus Christi Arts Center to Surfider (volunteers from the local chapter took part in beach cleanup before the event). And Kratzig, who ultimately became the Green Team’s Co-Chair, and team asked Todd McGuire, Program Director of 11th Hour Racing – an organization that establishes strategic partnerships within sailing and maritime communities to promote collaborative, systemic change benefitting the health of the ocean – for funding to help offset costs involved with going green at the platinum level.
Thing was, platinum certification from Sailors for the Sea was not going to be enough for 11th Hour Racing.
According to Kratzig, 11th Hour Racing’s vision goes beyond supporting a one-time regatta: “McGuire said ‘We need you to leave a lasting sustainability legacy, a lasting environmental movement, if we’re going to invest.’ So we went back to the drawing board to develop environmental programs that would live long after the Youth Worlds left Corpus Christi.”
Todd McGuire, Program Director of 11th Hour Racing (Photo credit: Jen Edney/US Sailing)
When Kratzig and company went back to 11th Hour Racing this February, they did so offering a laundry list of legacy-building sustainability initiatives:
Sustainability would be embedded in all aspects of the 2018 Youth World Sailing Championship.
The Green Team Committee teamed up with the Texas Sailing Association to use the TSA platform and Youth Circuit to educate sailors about ways to protect their local waters. The TSA pledged to work with Sailors for the Sea and bring Clean Regatta practices to all Texas Youth Circuit Regattas.
The Green Team created a sustainability event plan for Corpus Christi. It provides guidelines and resources for other organizations in the area to run sustainable events.
The Youth Worlds’ website would feature green content. “This is important,” offered Kratzig. “Only a small amount of spectators follow the race live in Corpus Christi. Most of them watch online so we need to be there with sustainability messaging.”
Art exhibits in the city would contain environmental messaging during the month of the regatta, including a chandelier made of over 1200 plastic bottles that would be hung in the Corpus Christi airport.
The 2018 Youth World Sailing Championships would measure a variety of sustainability metrics, from electricity usage to waste to water usage diversity. Among other things, this would serve as a benchmark for future Youth Worlds, starting with the 2019 edition in Gdynia, Poland.
The Host Committee and its team of volunteers would do everything possible to dot every green “i” at the event. Per Kratzig, “We even greened up our fences, replacing zip ties with more sustainable reusable bungees.”
A sustainability report would be written after the event based on Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards.
Environmental education would be offered to all 381 sailors from over 60 countries at the 2018 Youth Worlds. Since 80 percent of all Olympic sailing medalists have competed in the Youth Worlds, there’s a good chance that some of the participants will, in a few years time, have a big platform from which to share the sustainable sailing lessons they learned in Corpus Christi.
The Green Team’s legacy pitch was a success, as 11th Hour Racing soon became the event’s Official Sustainability Partner.
And, per the Green Team, the event was a success from a variety of sustainability metrics:
They were thisclose to being a Zero-Waste event as they diverted 89.8 percent of waste via recycling and composting — the threshold for Zero-Waste is 90 percent!
Almost 45,000 16 oz. water bottles were saved by enforcing the use of reusable bottles
A solar powered compost machine was used
Plastic Straws were banned from many areas around the regatta and all competitors were given stainless steel straws donated by Sailors for the Sea.
A solar-powered compost machine helped reduce waste by composting food scraps (Photo credit: James Tomlinson/ World Sailing)
Kudos to the Green Team for fielding pre- and post-event sustainability surveys. This needs to be the rule, not the exception, for all sports events.
2018: WORLD SAILING’S GREENEST YEAR EVER
World Sailing, the governing body that serves 70 million sailors and the sport’s 250 million followers, sees the greening of the Youth Worlds as just the latest example of what has become a very strong 2018, sustainability-wise, rebounding from a controversy-laden 2016 surrounding the decision to host of Olympic sailing at Rio’s severely polluted Guanabara Bay.
According to Dan Reading World Sailing’s Sustainability Programme Manager, “Young people really get sustainability. Mom and dad? It’s much harder to change their minds. That’s why we made the environment such a focus at this year’s Youth Worlds. And that’s just a part of our much more ambitious and strategic approach to sustainability over the last year or so. After all, sailors work and play on the water, they understand the power of nature. Most importantly, sailors see what’s happening to the oceans in terms of plastic and other waste up close. They’re sustainability specialists.”
In the last year alone, World Sailing (which, in addition to the Youth Worlds, sanctions the America’s Cup, and Volvo Ocean Race) launched a raft of sustainability initiatives — from boat construction to the significant reduction in the use of single use plastics, from environmentally friendly packaging to diversity.
Climate change has also become more of a focus. “Sailing teams from Pacific island nations like Fiji and Vanuatu see effects of climate change every day,” said Reading. “So we’re measuring our carbon footprint, including the emissions of our supply chain.”
The Green Team decided to measure how their sustainability efforts are playing with participants, team leaders, coaches, and volunteers. “The Green Team approached Brian McCullough, an expert in Green-Sports at the University of Seattle, to assist in developing a longitudinal survey [i.e. before and after] that looks at how attitudes about the environment and environmental behaviors are changing among sailors and fans,” reported Kratzig. “It’s early yet, but survey response rates have been good.”
The upshot? The post-race survey showed a dramatic and positive change in sustainability habits and attitudes. Of those responding to the survey:
The event’s sustainability theme resulted in more than 80 percent to stop buying single-use plastic completely and more than 40 percent to recycle.
87.6 percent thought the sustainability focus enhanced the event
95.6 percent would like to see sustainability and ocean conservation at all sailing events.
The organization promotes its sustainability initiatives to the sailing media, along with local media where it hosts regattas.
That was the case in South Texas with the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships. “Our sustainability story got good local coverage,” Kratzig reported. “The Corpus Christi ABC and NBC affiliates covered us as did print and online media.”
Given GSB’s belief that getting media of all stripes to #CoverGreenSports is the most important thing the Green-Sports movement can do right now, a heartfelt thank you goes to Elizabeth Kratzig, her Green Team and World Sailing.
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Sir Ben Ainslie is the most decorated sailor in Olympics history. As skipper of Land Rover BAR, the British entry in the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, he won deserved plaudits from the green and sports worlds, for making environmental sustainability, in particular ocean health, a core value of his team.
One thing Land Rover BAR did not win was the 2017 America’s Cup, despite spending in the neighborhood of £100 million ($USD135 million) over the four-year cycle. By some estimates, it will cost as much as 30 percent more to mount a legitimate campaign for the 2021 Cup, to be contested in New Zealand.
So when British fracking and chemical company, Ineos, and its founder Jim Ratcliffe, offered Ainslie £110 million ($153 million) to fund the lion’s share of his 2021 America’s Cup quest, Sir Ben had a choice: Take the money and risk being labeled a greenwasher, or keep his good name and his well-earned global reputation as an eco-athlete among fans, his competitors, sponsors and more.
He chose the money.
Since 2015, GreenSportsBlog has posted no less than 10 stories featuring Sir Ben Ainslie and his Land Rover BAR sailing team’s significant and substantive sustainability programs, including an interview with Sir Ben. I publicly lauded his and his team’s sustainability bona fides any chance I got.
That is why, as recently as two weeks ago, I could not have imagined writing this sentence:
Sir Ben Ainslie is a greenwasher.
Sir Ben earned that moniker with the April 26th announcement that his team had signed Ineos, one of the UK’s leading fracking firms, as title sponsor for its 2021 America’s Cup campaign. This was big news beyond merely the Green-Sports niche: The Guardian and CNN, among others, covered it.
Jim Ratcliffe (l), CEO of Ineos, with Sir Ben Ainslie (Photo credit: Toby Melville/Reuters)
To get a sense of how stunning Ainslie’s 180 degree flip from eco-athlete to greenwasher is, one has to turn back the clock only two years or so.
AINSLIE WALKED SUSTAINABILITY WALK AND TALKED SUSTAINABILITY TALK IN 2017 AMERICA’S CUP CAMPAIGN
It is no exaggeration to say that sustainability was the most core of core values — along with trust and integrity — for the Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team during its four year campaign to win the 2017 America’s Cup. The team:
Built a state-of-the-art home base in Portsmouth to BREEAM Excellent (the British equivalent of LEED Gold) standards
Used Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to measure and improve the efficiency of its use of resources, including from a carbon point of view, in the building of its race and support boats. This was a first in sailing
Promoted its clean oceans ethos to fans around the world during the America’s Cup World Series prep races and at the America’s Cup finals in Bermuda through engaging, interactive educational programs
Shared its sustainability stories with millions of fans around the world through a myriad of mainstream, sailing and green media
Land Rover BAR would not have been able to pull the above without its groundbreaking and close partnership with 11th Hour Racing.
The Newport, RI-based organization partners with elite sailing teams committed to sustainable practices, providing them with financial, technical and other support. America’s Cup hopeful Land Rover BAR was certainly the organization’s highest profile elite sailing team partner. In addition to an annual investment estimated to be in the seven figures, 11th Hour Racing provided Sir Ben and his team with a wide range of sustainability-related services.
As Jeremy Pochman, 11th Hour Racing’s President, said in an April, 2016 GreenSportsBlog post, “We work with [Land Rover BAR] to meet the ambitious standards we set together: challenge and change practices in technology, procurement, energy production and use, efficiency, economy, community and legacy.”
Jeremy Pochman, President, 11th Hour Racing (Photo credit: Yachts And Yachting)
In the same story, Sir Ben showed he was fully on board: “It was clear to me when we launched the team that we could make a real difference – to operate sustainably, protect the marine environment and positively impact the people and local businesses we needed to build a winning team. With the help of 11th Hour Racing, we’ve set up Land Rover BAR to be one of the most sustainable sports teams on the planet.”
“In the last 30 years, climate change has accelerated and we have lost the equivalent of a third of the size of Europe in Arctic sea ice. The impact of this change is an infrastructure breakdown in some parts of the world, with increased conflict and migration as people are displaced in their efforts to survive; and agriculture and food supply are lost through extreme weather events, such as huge droughts or severe flooding.”
“We have already seen a one degree global temperature rise since pre-industrial levels. I’ve got a 3-month old daughter and if we continue to do nothing then in her lifetime she will see a further three degree global increase. It will lead to a sea level rise of almost a meter and potential loss of over 24 per cent of the mammals and half of the plant species currently on the planet. In that scenario we can anticipate massive disruption to society as individuals and nations struggle for the resources – water, food, energy – required to survive.”
When one takes into account the depth of this quote and Ainslie’s massive global popularity (sailing is a very big deal in many countries, not so much in the U.S.), it’s not a stretch to say that Sir Ben was the most influential eco-athlete in the world.
SAY IT AIN’T SO! SIR BEN SELLS OUT FOR INEOS’ FRACKING MONEY
What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time, Land Rover BAR and 11th Hour Racing were working together to bring sustainability to racing fans in Bermuda, site of the 2017 America’s Cup finals.
But just a couple of weeks ago, Sir Ben announced he had ditched incumbent title sponsor Land Rover — which supported the team’s sustainability ethos in a number of ways — for fracking^ giant Ineos.
As reported by Matthew Campelli in Sport Sustainability Journal on April 30, Ainslie’s partnership with 11th Hour Racing also is no more. While representatives of the organization declined to comment for this story, it seems impossible to imagine that 11th Hour Racing would have worked with Ineos Team GB. Pochman, co-founder Wendy Schmidt and the rest of the 11th Hour Racing team must feel gutted.
During happier times, Sir Ben Ainslie with Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of 11th Hour Racing (Photo credit: Harry Kenney-Herbert/Land Rover BAR)
What the frack happened?
The prospect of skippering Britain’s first-ever America’s Cup win clearly trumped Sir Ben’s (I guess not so deep) commitment to sustainability.
And, with costs to mount a 2021 America’s Cup campaign expected to run as much as 30 percent higher as compared to 2017, money was an understandable concern for Ainslie.
Until Ineos’ Jim Ratcliffe, recently announced as Britain’s richest man, stepped up with his £110 million offer, that is.
Ainslie was quoted thusly by Martha Kelner in the April 26 issue of The Guardian: “The investment of Ineos leaves us with our best ever chance of bringing the America’s Cup home.” Allow me to translate that bland, press release-type language into what Sir Ben might have been thinking: Hmmm, with Ineos providing virtually all of my funding needs, I can focus on sailing pretty much 24-7. Land Rover and 11th Hour Racing won’t be able to cover our expenses by themselves so if I stayed with them, I would have had to spend valuable time selling more sponsors. And, if we end up needing additional funding, Mr. Ratcliffe can probably ring up his friends Charles and David Koch to sign on Koch Industries. OK let’s do this!
In the same story, somehow, the depth of climate change knowledge Sir Ben expressed in late 2016 eluded him in 2018: “Fracking is not a subject I’m an expert on, but I know, having worked with Ineos for this partnership, that they take their responsibilities with the environment extremely seriously.” Translation: Climate change? Sustainability? I want to talk about sailing! Of course if — strike that — when we bring the America’s Cup home to Britain, all of this will be forgotten by my fans, the media, everyone.
WILL FANS CARE?
Aside from some excited comments about the new partnership from sailing and technological perspectives, early reaction on Ineos Team GB’s Facebook account was largely negative. Many commenters were disgusted with Sir Ben’s turn towards Ineos and fracking and away from sustainability. Here’s a sampler:
$217 million buys your conscience and your morals? WOW! The seas are murderously loaded with plastics and your sponsor is a plastics manufacturer who intends to turn the UK into a toxic teabag for fracked gas. You are clearly seeing the dollars but ignoring the two most important issues of life, environment and health.
Please think about it. Ineos will pollute the ground. It’s not a safe bet for sponsorship.
Ineos is a fracking company which brings significant challenges for ongoing public support for the team.
But the sad truth is winning does cure pretty much everything, at least from a PR perspective. Many fans across all sports, from all corners of the world, excuse awful behavior from the favorite players, from domestic violence to tax fraud to PED# use, as long as they win. Sir Ben didn’t cheat. He didn’t beat anyone.
All Ainslie did was play the fans, sponsors and media — yours truly included — who bought into his “commitment to sustainability” spiel for fools.
All he did was make a mockery of his core values.
And all he did was show his now two year-old daughter that he values an America’s Cup on the mantel more than clean oceans and a hospitable climate.
Say in ain’t so, Ben.
^ Fracking (also known by its more technical name, hydraulic fracturing) is a process by which large amounts of water and sand, combined with often hazardous chemicals, are injected, at high rates of pressure, into rock formations to fracture surrounding material for the purpose of extracting oil and gas. Its negative environmental and health impacts are legion, many of which would’ve concerned pre-Ineos Sir Ben. These include contamination of groundwater, large volume water use in water-challenged regions, methane pollution which exacerbates climate change, exposure to toxic chemicals, and fracking-induced earthquakes.
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THIS STORY IS AN UPDATE OF A PIECE THAT FIRST APPEARED IN SUSTAINABLE BRANDS ON JANUARY 2, 2018
Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s team director Mark Towill and skipper Charlie Enright take on challenges the way most people layer cold cuts; one on top of the other. The duo and their team are 1) one of seven squads trying to win the Around the World Volvo Ocean Race, a nine-month sailing slog, over 45,000 nautical miles, in all sorts of weather; 2) doing so while being the most sustainable team in the race; and 3) working to increase public awareness, concern and action on behalf of ocean health.
No problem, right?
Perhaps the main reason they have a chance to succeed on all three counts is the unique collaboration between sport (Towill and Enright), business (Vestas, the largest wind turbine maker in the world) and philanthropy (11th Hour Racing, an organization that promotes ocean health via the sponsorship of elite sailing teams).
A LIFELONG INTEREST IN OCEAN HEALTH; A DESIRE TO COMPETE IN THE PINNACLE OF OPEN OCEAN SAILING RACING
For Mark Towill, concern about ocean health goes back to childhood. “I saw significant amounts of marine debris up close, growing up on the water in Hawai’i,” said the team director of Vestas 11th Hour Racing, one of seven sailing squads competing to win the Volvo Ocean Race.
Towill attended Honolulu’s Punahou High School, alma mater of Barack Obama. In his senior year, he met environmentally minded Rhode Island native Charlie Enright during filming of the documentary “Morning Light,” produced by Roy Disney, in which young sailors competed in the TransPac Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing team director Mark Towill (top) and skipper Charlie Enright (Credit for both photos: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)
The duo sailed for Brown’s nationally ranked team in the mid-2000s; it was at the Providence, RI university that Towill and Enright hatched their dream of leading a team in the Volvo Ocean Race, the pinnacle of open ocean racing. Making that dream a reality costs serious money — upwards of $20 million — but only a few years after Enright graduated in 2008, the business majors (Towill also majored in environmental science) set out to raise the money to fund a boat for the 2014-15 race.
Surprisingly to many in the sailing world, a three-year effort to find a major sponsor bore fruit when Alvimedica, a new Turkish medical equipment manufacturer, signed on.
SEEING OCEAN WASTE AND EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE DURING 2014-15 VOLVO OCEAN RACE
Towill’s and Enright’s first trip around the world was peppered by a substantial amount of ocean waste.
“The amount of marine debris we encountered was truly astonishing,” marveled Charlie Enright. “We expected to see plenty of ‘leakage’ — all sorts of materials from container ships that would fall into the ocean — and we did. But the old refrigerators, air conditioners and tires we saw floating around in the middle of the ocean — they didn’t fall off of ships. The waste was so thick, it looked like you could walk in some parts of the waters between Malaysia and Indonesia, thanks to the lax dumping regulations.”
As one might expect, the ocean waste occasionally slowed Team Alvimedica’s progress. “It hindered our performance, big time. Sometimes, when the boat would slow down, we would send someone overboard to go underwater and take the stuff off,” offered Enright. “Of course, it wasn’t only our boat that had to deal with this problem; it affected everyone in the race.”
They also observed the effects of climate change up close. “One way we saw this was through ‘ice gates,’ which are established for safety reasons by race organizers to represent the northernmost and southernmost latitudes beyond which the boats cannot safely sail,” explained Enright. “Because of climate change, icebergs are floating further south from the Arctic regions and further north from the Antarctic. That meant that, for example, the Cape Town to Melbourne leg’s Antarctic ice gates were pushed further north for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race than they would have been in prior years.”
Even before Team Alvimedica’s fifth place finish in their maiden 2014-15 voyage, Towill and Enright began planning for the race’s 2017-18 edition.
The pair had worked with a sustainability consultant to determine the environmental impact of their 2014-15 journey, establishing a baseline for the next go-round. More importantly, it says here, they made a commitment that improving ocean health as well as fighting climate change would be core values for both the team as well as prospective sponsors. Their goals were, of course, modest: Just win the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race and be, as Towill put it, “the [event’s] most sustainable team.”
Vestas 11th Hour Racing aims to win the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race, be the event’s most sustainable team, and, in the process, increase public awareness, concern and action on behalf of ocean health (Photo credit: Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)
With that dual mission firmly in place, it is highly doubtful that the team director and skipper could have found a better title partner pairing than Vestas and 11th Hour Racing.
VESTAS: PARTNERSHIP WITH TOWILL/ENRIGHT, 11TH HOUR RACING AND VOLVO OCEAN RACE IS A PERFECT FIT
To Magnus Bach, senior director of global marketing at Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, co-sponsoring Towill and Enright’s team with 11th Hour Racing, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation focused on ocean health, was a perfect storm of sorts: “We see ourselves as the ‘above the water surface’ sustainability partner with our focus on wind energy and climate solutions. Meanwhile, 11th Hour Racing brings its ‘below the surface’ expertise on ocean waste and ocean health.”
Magnus Bach, senior director of global marketing at Vestas (Photo credit: Magnus Bach)
Bach says the relationship between Vestas, Towill/Enright and 11th Hour Racing came about thanks to the matchmaking skills of Volvo Ocean Race executives: “Having sponsored a team in the 2014-15 cycle, we knew the ropes a bit. Our goal in 2017-18 was to partner with a team that would make a serious, long-term commitment to sustainability and to the climate change fight; we were not interested in a one-off. Knowing this, our friends at the Volvo Ocean Race introduced us to Mark and Charlie in December 2016. From there, the relationship between us, the guys and 11th Hour Racing crystallized quickly and we announced our joint partnership in March.”
The strategic and technical fit between Vestas and sailing could not be tighter and is a prime reason the company also serves as the Data Analytics Partner of the race itself. Bach noted Vestas “is in the business of harvesting wind and so, of course, is sailing. And think about this: the aerodynamics of a hull is somewhat similar to that of a wind blade; in fact many of its engineers have worked in both sailing and the wind business. Vestas also has the biggest climate library in the world — the amount of data in the wind business is staggering — which the sailors use to help with navigation.”
Sponsoring the team and the race provides Vestas with unmatched business building opportunities. “We are a business-to-business company — we sell wind turbines and service solutions mostly to utility companies around the world — so doing a big, consumer-facing sponsorship with, for instance, a soccer team like Manchester United or Liverpool does not make sense for us,” asserted Bach. “The global nature of the race and the intimate nature of its stops provides us with powerful opportunities to entertain some of our existing partners along with new prospects, wherever they may be located. This makes the Volvo Ocean Race a stronger option for us than, say, the America’s Cup, which takes place in far fewer locales.”
11TH HOUR RACING: SAILING SPONSOR WITH A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL PURPOSE
When you think of a typical corporate sponsor of a sports team or event, what kind of company comes to mind? A car company? A beer brand, perhaps? No matter what category you chose, you know that companies spend substantial sums to put their products or services in front of their target audiences so they can sell more of those products or services.
Newport, RI-based 11th Hour Racing is not a corporation, and it is not selling a product or service.
Rather, the organization pays for the privilege of selling behavior change — positive environmental actions, primarily surrounding ocean health — to dual audiences: 1. World class sailing teams and, sometimes, the races in which they compete, and 2. The millions of sailing fans worldwide who follow the teams, and races.
How does 11th Hour Racing help close its “sale”? By acting as sustainability consultant — helping to develop sustainability plans — as well as a marketing and communications agency of sorts for the teams it sponsors in the world’s most widely followed sailing races.
They played this role for Land Rover BAR, the British entry in the 35th America’s Cup held in 2017. And, with a history of support for Towill and Enright, it’s not surprising they are doing the same as part of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team. And, if that’s not enough, 11th Hour Racing is also providing sustainability consulting services to the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race as Founding Principal Sustainability Partner and Race Partner.
VESTAS 11TH HOUR RACING TEAM: A WORLD CLASS COLLABORATION
11th Hour Racing’s collaboration with Towill, Enright along with Vestas for the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race resulted in a comprehensive and groundbreaking sustainability, communications, legacy and reporting plan that put the team on a path to make good on its “most sustainable team in the race” pledge — and more. Sustainability and communications initiatives include:
Calculating Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s carbon footprint by tracking all travel, accommodations, electricity usage, water consumption and waste. That footprint will be offset at race’s end.
Outfitting each team member with a “sustainability kit” containing refillable water bottle, coffee mug, bamboo toothbrushes, and much more. It also includes a personal water filter to ensure clean, safe drinking water.
Creating a positive plastic footprint by removing more trash from beach cleanups than they create during the race
Using a desalinator for on-board water needs, saving an estimated 13,500 one-liter water bottles
Achieving a 75 percent waste diversion rate
Wearing Karün sunglasses made from 100 percent recycled fishing nets and using Aethic sunblock, produced with a unique formula that does not harm coral reefs
Sourcing local, sustainable foods from the countries they visit
Following a Meatless Monday diet
Designing and operating Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Exploration Zones at 10 of the 12 race stops. The Exploration Zone is a dedicated, immersive educational space where the public learns about renewable energy and ocean health through the prism of sailing’s most crucial elements; wind and water. From virtual reality goggles to interactive displays, the space drew thousands of people each day at the race’s first three stops (Alicante, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal, and Cape Town, South Africa). Visitors can also charge their phone using a grinder similar to the ones on board the race boat, and make their own public pledge for a sustainable future.
Raising awareness of the team’s vision of a cleaner, healthier environment at race stops and during the race via the Vestas 11th Hour Racing website, Social Media channels and the #LeadingSustainability hashtag
Video detailing the Vestas 11th Hour Racing “Exploration Zone” (1 min 6 sec)
At each Volvo Ocean Race stopover, Vestas 11th Hour Racing will be meeting with a local non-profit to learn more about their environmental work.
11th Hour Racing will be giving a $10,000 grant to each of these non-profits as part of the team’s mission to leave a lasting legacy beyond the race.
11th Hour Racing is using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) template to monitor the team’s progress (or lack thereof) towards reaching its sustainability goals after each legs. A final sustainability report will be issued after the race ends.
YOU PLAY TO WIN THE RACE!
To paraphrase the famous 2002 rant of Herm Edwards, the preacher-like former head coach of the New York Jets (a woebegone American football team, for those unfamiliar with U.S. sports), ESPN commentator, and soon-to-be head man at Arizona State University, “You play to win the Volvo Ocean Race!!”
Former NY Jets head coach Herm Edwards’ now infamous 2002 “You Play to Win the Game” rant (37 seconds)…
…and the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, “playing to win the race…while being its most sustainable team!” (Photo credit:
Winning would be a great boost for the awareness and impact of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s sustainability leadership.
Towill and Enright are, of course, all in on winning both the Volvo Ocean and sustainability races.
“Winning the race is of paramount importance and a massive challenge. Know that our team is up for it,” said Mark Towill. “Ocean health and climate change are also of paramount importance. That’s why we set out to be the most sustainable team in the Volvo Ocean Race. Thanks to Vestas and 11th Hour Racing, we’re on the way to achieving the environmental goals. As for the race, that’s on us!”
After winning the first leg from Alicante, Spain to Lisbon, Vestas 11th Hour Racing earned third place honors in both the second (Lisbon-Cape Town) and third (Cape Town-Melbourne) chapters. Thus the team left Melbourne tied for second place when the fourth leg set off on January 2 for Hong Kong, with expected arrival on January 19.
After Hong Kong, the race proceeds to Guangzhou (China) then back to Hong Kong. After that, it’s on to Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Newport (Rhode Island, USA), Cardiff (Wales), Gothenberg (Sweden), before finishing in The Hague (Netherlands) at the end of June.
The Volvo Ocean Race is a nine-month, round-the-world sailing test. Seven boats and crews shoved off from Alicante, Spain on October 22 to start the 2017-18 version. The Vestas 11th Hour Racing Team is going to significant lengths to be the most sustainable team ever to compete in the event. That commitment was on display for fans at the Exploration Zones in the squad’s base in the race village during the run up to the start.
The first ocean leg of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, from Alicante, Spain, to Lisbon, Portugal, started on October 22. The 1,450 nautical mile (nm) course is taking the seven competing teams through the Strait of Gibraltar and around the small island of Porto Santo, close to Madeira, before heading directly to the Portuguese capital.
Before the teams set off from Alicante, many thousands of sailing fans visited the race village. And no one should be surprised that sustainability was the focal point of the ground floor Exploration Zone at the home base of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team.
VESTAS, 11TH HOUR RACING AND THE TEAM: A NATURAL, SUSTAINABLE FIT
After all, Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas is the only global energy company dedicated exclusively to wind energy. And 11th Hour Racing of Newport, RI is an organization that promotes healthy oceans, in part by making world class sailing racing more sustainable.
One way they do this is through the sponsorship — and greening — of sailing teams in the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s most well known sailing contests. 11th Hour Racing was the exclusive Sustainability Partner of Land Rover BAR, Great Britain’s entry in the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda in June.
Now they’ve teamed up with Vestas to sponsor a team that aims not only to win, but also to be the most sustainable team ever to have competed in the Volvo Ocean Race#.
Environmental sustainability, ocean health and climate change are also core tenets for team director Mark Towill and skipper Charlie Enright, making their partnership with Vestas and 11th Hour Racing a seamless fit. In fact, Mark and Charlie worked with a sustainability consultant to determine the environmental impact of their previous participation in the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race with Team Alvimedica.
Charlie Enright, skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo credit: D3O)
Mark Towill, team director of Vestas 11th Hour Racing, holding a piece 1,000 year-old ice (Photo credit: P. Bucktrout, BAS)
Those data formed the baseline of what became a robust sustainability plan for the 2017-2018 edition. It covers all aspects of the team’s operations on their 45,000 nautical-miles around-the-world journey. Some of these include:
Calculating its carbon footprint by tracking all travel, accommodations, electricity usage, water consumption and waste. That footprint will be offset at the race’s conclusion
Outfitting each team member with a “sustainability kit” that contains refillable water bottle, coffee mug, and bamboo toothbrushes, along with sustainable soap, shampoo, toothpaste and laundry detergent. It also includes a personal water filter to ensure clean, safe drinking water.
Eliminating the use of single-use plastics and straws
Creating a positive plastic footprint by removing more trash from beach cleanups than they use
Using a desalinator for on board water needs, saving an estimated 13,500 one-liter water bottles throughout the race
Achieving a 75 percent waste diversion rate
Wearing Karün sunglasses made from 100 percent recycled fishing nets and using Aethic sunblock, produced with a unique formula that does not harm coral reefs
Sourcing local, sustainable foods from the countries they visit, including sustainable seafood
Pledging to go Meat Free on Mondays both onshore and off
Raising awareness of the team’s vision of a cleaner, healthier environment at the race stops and during the race via the Vestas 11th Hour Racing website and the #LeadingSustainability hashtag
Screenshot of Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s website’s home page on October 27, featuring a sustainability-themed trivia question
SAILING FANS EXPERIENCE THE VESTAS 11TH HOUR RACING SUSTAINABILITY ETHOS AT THE EXPLORATION ZONE
Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Exploration Zone is an dedicated, immersive educational space where the public could learn about renewable energy and ocean health through the prism of sailing’s most crucial elements; wind and water. From virtual reality goggles to interactive displays, the space was a must-see attraction among Alicante race village visitors, with over 1,000 people experiencing the Exploration Zone each day.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Exploration Zone at their base in Alicante, Spain; where the Volvo Ocean Race started (Photo credit: Atila Madrona/Vestas 11th Hour Racing)
Sailing fans outside the entrance to the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zone in Alicante, Spain (Photo credit: Atila Madrona/Vestas 11th Hour Racing)
The team also brought its sustainability message outside the Race Village, as Vestas 11th Hour Racing sailors and local students met with a local environmental organization, Asociación De Naturalistas Del Sureste (ANSE). They toured ANSE’s wooden sailing vessel, Else, equipped to monitor and protect endangered species, study pollution effects on plants and animals, and implement coastal restoration projects. Hannah Diamond was among the team’s sailors who learned about ANSE’s endeavors: “I was most surprised that here in the Mediterranean there are sperm whales that are bigger than our Volvo Ocean 65 [foot boat].”
Members of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing staff on the ANSE boat (Photo credit Atila Madrona/Vestas 11th Hour Racing)
Ocean health and the issue of plastic ocean pollution were the themes of the Ocean Summit that took place in Alicante during race week. Mark Towill gave the keynote address to a full house of NGOs, government and the private sector. The Hawaii native reflected on his time at sea and also about how the Volvo Ocean Race can be a massive megaphone for the team’s sustainability messaging: “[We have] a real opportunity to use this race as a platform and we need to make the most of it.”
VESTAS 11TH HOUR RACING EXPLORATION ZONES AT ALL BUT TWO RACE STOPS
Sailing fans around the world will be able to visit the Vestas 11th Hour Racing Exploration Zones at all but two of the race stops before the finish in The Hague, Netherlands at the end of June. Here is a list of the stops, race village opening days and the start dates of the next race legs.
Lisbon, Portugal: October 31 – November 5
Cape Town, South Africa: November 24 – December 10
Melbourne, Australia: December 27 – January 8, 2018 (NO EXPLORATION ZONE)
Hong Kong: January 17 – February 1
Guangzhou, China: January 31 – February 5 (NO EXPLORATION ZONE)
Hong Kong: January 17 – February 7
Auckland, New Zealand: February 24 – March 18
Itajaí, Brazil: April 5 – April 22
Newport, Rhode Island: May 8 – May 20
Cardiff, Wales: May 27 – June 10
Gothenburg, Sweden: June 14 – June 21
The Hague, Netherlands: June 24 – June 30
Mark Towill and Charlie Enright tell the Vestas 11th Hour Racing story in this 2 minute 23 second video
# 11th Hour Racing is also providing sustainability consulting services to the Volvo Ocean Race as its Founding Principal Partner in Sustainability
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Manchester City continues the greening of the English Premier League by entering into a partnership with Eaton and Nissan that will promote home energy storage units to fans. Land Rover BAR, in Bermuda to try to bring the America’s Cup to Great Britain for the first time, continues its winning sustainability performance, going all in on the climate change fight. And Jenny Vrentas, the excellent NFL reporter for si.com’s fantastic MMQB blog, writes about the U.S exit from the Paris Climate Agreement. All in all, it’s a busy GSB News & Notes Tuesday.
NISSAN AND EATON HELP MANCHESTER CITY AND ITS FANS GO GREEN
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was originally planned to be posted on what turned out to be the day after the tragic terrorist attack in Manchester, England. We decided not to run it then and are offering it today instead.
Manchester City, third place finishers in the recently completed 2016-17 English Premier League football/soccer season, is owned in large part (86 percent to be exact) by oil barons from Abu Dhabi. Their stadium is named after Etihad Airlines. With that pedigree, the club seems an unlikely Green-Sports innovator.
But Green-Sports innovators they are.
In a sponsorship deal announced in May, US-based battery storage developer Eaton agreed to market its xStorage Home Energy Storage Units—developed using recycled batteries from existing Man City sponsor Nissan electric vehicles (EVs) and manufactured at that company’s Sunderland, England plant—to supporters of the Light Blues.
According to “Soccer Meets Storage,” a story by Madeline Cuff in the May 12 issue of GreenBiz, City fans will receive “targeted content about energy storage across Man City channels over the coming weeks, including via the club’s website, app and at ‘certain moments’ during games. Die-hard fans also will be able to purchase a limited-edition Man City-branded storage unit for their homes.”
Eaton video (1:02) promoting its xStorage home energy storage units runs on Manchester City’s website. (Credit: City Football Group)
Speaking to reporters, Tom Glick, Chief Commercial Officer of City Football Group, which owns Manchester City, as well as New York City FC (NYCFC) of Major League Soccer and other clubs around the world, said “Our job is to help bring [home energy storage] to life: help to raise its profile, to tell a story, help to reach a big audience.”
Take a moment to re-read that quote.
Do you agree with me that having a high ranking executive from one of the most valuable group of sports teams in the world say publicly that bringing the home energy storage sector to life is part of its job is a big deal?
More Glick: “Our ability to reach millions of people in the U.K., and indeed around the world, to be able to convey the message about sustainability but also benefit for their own personal situation is right there for us.” He added that “phase two” of the deal could involve Eaton outfitting Etihad Stadium with its storage products.
Why is Eaton making what is likely a sizable sponsorship investment in Man City? Because 1) the club is a perennial contender for the Premier League crown, having won it twice in the past six seasons, and 2) the residential storage unit market is poised for rapid growth in the U.K.
On the latter point, and per Ms. Cuff’s GreenBiz piece, as of year-end 2016, only about 2,000 such units were installed in homes across Great Britain but “analysts predict it will grow 70 percent this year as costs fall and consumers become more comfortable with the technology.” And that is expected to be just the beginning.
Eaton is poised to be a big player in the home energy storage category in the U.K. with xStorage installations expected to begin in July. As well as storing power, the battery packs also can feed energy back to the grid during times of peak demand.
Eaton’s initial target market is solar powered homes, as they currently stand to gain the most financially from installing a storage device and minimizing use of grid power. According to Ms. Cuff, “Nissan and Eaton claim the average home in the U.K. with a 3kW rooftop solar installation could save around $55.61 per month by installing its entry level 4.2kWh xStorage Home unit.”
Beyond the Nissan-Eaton partnership, sustainability has taken a deep hold at Man City:
Etihad Stadium is part of a sports, community and business hub that sits on what was a largely toxic and unusable heavy industry site. In its place are City Football Academy; the National Squash Centre; the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance; the National Indoor BMX (cycling) centre and a Velodrome.
Aerial view of City Football Group’s sports, community and business hub, with the Etihad Stadium in the middle of the picture. (Photo credit: Edie.net)
Absorption chillers, and combined heat & power systems (CHP) help to export electricity to the grid and thus reduce carbon emissions.
Air-source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, bore hole water and LED lighting have also been fitted across the campus to deliver results.
All waste water from ground activities is recycled and re-used across the City Football Academy and the Etihad Stadium.
LAND ROVER BAR KEEPS FIGHT FOR CLEAN OCEANS AND CLIMATE CHANGE FRONT AND CENTER AS IT WORKS TO WIN GREAT BRITAIN’S FIRST AMERICA’S CUP
One would think that the skipper, crew and support staff for Land Rover BAR, the British entry in the 35th America’s Cup Presented by Louis Vuitton taking place in Bermuda, would be focused on one thing and one thing only over the next month: Becoming the first team to win the trophy for the U.K. in the 166 year history of the race. And, rest assured, the squad is hyper-focused.
But, working with Exclusive Sustainability Partner 11th Hour Racing, Land Rover BAR is demonstrating it can go all out to win while also going all in on its very public campaign that promotes 1) a clean, healthy marine environment and 2) climate change.
As far as the racing is concerned, Land Rover BAR and skipper Sir Ben Ainslie made it through last week’s qualifiers and are facing off against Emirates Team New Zealand in this week’s challengers’ playoffs. The Kiwis own a 2-0 lead over Land Rover BAR in the best 5-of-9 series, winning the opening races on Monday after the British boat suffered damage to its wing, which required the team to abandon the first race and forfeit the second in order to do the necessary repairs. But things can turn around quickly with two more races set for tomorrow, two for Wednesday and up to three more on Thursday – this series runs as a “first-to-win five races,” so the numbers of actual races sailed will depend on the results. The winner will face the winner of the Artemis Racing (Sweden) – SoftBank Team Japan duel, tied 1-1 after Monday’s action, in the challengers’ playoffs finals, scheduled for June 10-12. The survivor will then match up in the final series vs. Oracle Team USA, the current holder of the America’s Cup, beginning on June 17.
While Land Rover BAR’s results on the water are still to be determined, its sustainability initiatives are already proven winners. This is due, in large part, because the team and 11th Hour Racing are leveraging the “Power of Partnership,” encouraging and working with the team’s many global, British and Bermudian corporate and nonprofit partners (BT, Aberdeen Asset Management and Low Carbon to name but a few), to engage their stakeholders (employees, consumers, etc) to take specific positive environmental actions. The partners were provided a toolkit that shows them how to seed a new environmental action each week during the month-long America’s Cup homestretch, starting the week of May 22nd.
Say No to Single Use Plastics (w/o 5/22)
Go Meat Free on Mondays (w/o 5/29): Talk about a win-win-win: Cutting meat from one’s diet one day per week helps slow climate change, protect the environment and improve one’s health.
Consume Only Sustainable Seafood, Including Lionfish (w/o 6/5): Scheduled to coincide with World Oceans Day. 70 percent of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, or have already suffered a collapse. Invasive lionfish have no natural predators in the Atlantic—and are particularly problematic in Bermuda. They threaten native ecosystems including coral reefs. During the run up to the America’s Cup Finals, 11th Hour Racing spearheaded an #EatLionfish educational campaign in Bermuda. With World Oceans Day taking place June 8, this is a great week to, per Land Rover BAR, “Eat ’em to Beat ’em!”
Promote and Use Renewable Energy (w/o 6/12)
Recycle Unwanted Materials (w/o 6/19)
These programs are just the latest examples of Land Rover BAR’s Best-In-Class sustainability track record, including its BREEAM Excellent (akin to LEED Gold) home base in Portsmouth, England, to its Life Cycle Assessment approach to carbon efficiency, and much more. Per a recent press release, these efforts are designed to keep the team consistent with the tenets of the Paris Climate Agreement, doing its part in the effort to reduce global carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next 30 years.
JENNY VRENTAS OF SI.COM’S MONDAY MORNING QB OPINES ABOUT U.S. EXIT FROM PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT
Jenny Vrentas is a fantastic sportswriter, covering the NFL for Sports Illustrated’s popular Monday Morning Quarterback site—it reaches 1 million readers monthly. Her stories on the varied aspects of the league’s potentially existential concussion issues are informative and illuminating. This week, she substituted for the vacationing Peter King, the site’s Grand Poobah, penning her version of the must-read (for pro football fans) MMQBcolumn, a detailed, insider’s view of the news, rumors and nuggets surrounding the NFL.
Jenny Vrentas, from si.com’s MMQB blog. (Photo credit: Twitter)
So imagine my pleasant surprise when Ms. Vrentas, near the very end of MMQB, in the TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK section, in the “I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week” subsection, included the following as her items c and d:
Innovation is fast becoming a Green-Sports watchword and it undergirds today’s GSB News & Notes: PyeongChang, South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be the first to feature self-driving buses. Reebok will bring plant-based footwear to the market later this year. And Vestas, the only global energy company dedicated solely to wind, partners with 11th Hour Racing to bring a forward-looking sustainability message to the 2018 Volvo Ocean Sailing Race.
SELF-DRIVING BUSES AT PYEONGCHANG 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS
South Korean telecommunications company KT Corporation plans to launch its next generation 5G cellular network in 2019. The Official Telecommunications Provider of the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang will use the quadrennial event to pilot the new technology. State-of-the art cell phones, 22nd century virtual reality devices and drone deliveries are only some of the 5G applications that will be on display at the Games.
In concert with the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and partner companies Samsung Electronics, Ericsson, Nokia and Intel; KT Corporation will unveil self-driving shuttle buses in PyeongChang during the Games.
Self-driving shuttle bus from KT Corporation will be featured during PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in South Korea. (Photo credit: KT Corporation)
Per a story by Yoon Sung-won in the Korea Times, the self-driving buses were tested Tuesday (Monday in the US) at an event in snowy PyeongChang. “The bus was connected to a control center through the 5G network at the venue and drove itself through a short route. It automatically stopped as a car appeared in front of it and slowed down over a slippery road covered with snow.”
The driverless shuttles, which will bring fans, staff and media from the city center to a variety of Olympics venues, are projected to reduce energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions and accidents vs. their human-driven counterparts.
REEBOK TO MAKE SHOES FROM “THINGS THAT GROW”
The athletic shoe and apparel industries are bringing innovative Green-Sports products to market at a breakneck pace. Nike’s new FlyKnit shoes cut waste by 80 percent. adidas recently-launched UltraBOOST Uncaged Parleysneakers are made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste.
Reebok, a division of adidas, will join the greening fray by bringing plant-based footwear to the market later this year; an initiative the company says will create shoes that are “made from things that grow.” The first release will be a shoe that has an upper, the part that goes over the top of the foot, comprised of organic cotton and a base originating from industrially-grown corn (a non-food source). Reebok is partnering with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products to create the “Cotton + Corn” shoes.
Prototype of Reebok Cotton + Corn sneakers, made of plant-based materials. (Photo credit: Reebok)
The Cotton + Corn initiative impacts all three phases of the product lifecycle in textbook “Cradle to Cradle” fashion. In the development phase, Reebok uses materials that grow and can be replenished, rather than the petroleum-based materials used today. When the product hits the market, the company has ensured consumers that they won’t have to sacrifice performance and style. Finally, the plant-based materials in the the shoes are compostable at the end of the lifecycle. Reebok says it will take back used sneakers and compost them to grow the materials for the next batch of shoes.
Bill McInnis, head of Reebok Future, told Environmental Leader’s Jennifer Hermes on April 5 that the plant-based shoes will be a bit more expensive to create at first than their traditional rubber, polyurethane, and synthetic rubber counterparts: the company is using new materials that it has not used previously and the small quantities at launch limit economies of scale.
The Reebok Future team has been at work on this concept in various forms for over five years. According to McInnis, its focus is on “making more sustainable products and minimizing our environmental impact” that don’t compromise on quality so consumers will not be forced to choose between style, comfort and the environment.
VESTAS AND 11TH HOUR RACING TEAM UP TO BRING SUSTAINABILITY TO VOLVO OCEAN SAILING RACE
Global wind power company Vestas recently announced a partnership with 11th Hour Racing, to bring a strong sustainability message to the ’round the world 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race by their sponsorship of the American duo of Charlie Enright and Mark Towill. Before that, 11th Hour Racing, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation which establishes strategic partnerships within the sailing world to promote systemic change for the health of our marine environment, will put sustainability front and center at this summer’s America’s Cup in Bermuda via its sponsorship of Land Rover BAR, the British entrant.
Charlie Enright and Mark Towill will bring their sustainability message around the world in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, with the support of Vestas and 11th Hour Racing. (Photo credit: Billy Weiss/VOR)
The Vestas-11th Hour Racing-Enright-Towill campaign is a unique platform for the Danish company to promote its vision, which is to be the global leader in sustainable energy solutions.
“Our partnership with 11th Hour Racing sends a very strong signal with two leading players within sustainability combining forces to promote sustainable solutions within wind and water,” said Vestas President and CEO Anders Runevad.
Wendy Schmidt, 11th Hour Racing Co-Founder and President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, added: “Mark and Charlie have been serving as ambassadors for 11th Hour Racing for the past two years, having witnessed first hand during the last Volvo Ocean Race the many ways pollution and plastic debris are destroying ocean life and threatening all of us. Our partnership with Vestas is about inspiring positive change in the way we think about energy and the natural resources of the planet.”
The Vestas-11th Hour Racing sustainability message will start its circumnavigation of the globe with Enright and Towill when the race departs Alicante, Spain in late October. They then will travel 45,000 nautical miles with stops at Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff and Gothenburg before the finish in The Hague.
Map of 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race (Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race)
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