GSB News and Notes: Innovative Run For The Oceans on World Oceans Day; DC’s Verizon Center Adds Solar; Cooper Helfet, Oakland Raiders Eco-Athlete, Helps Launch The Nature Project

Adidas, along with nonprofit partner Parley for the Oceans and Runtastic, sponsors Run For The Oceans, a series of digital runs across the globe and an actual 5K in NYC on World Oceans Day (June 8) to bring attention to the plastic ocean waste and ocean health crises. Washington, DC, a city that can use some sensible sustainability news these days, sees the Verizon Center, home to the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals, add solar power to its energy mix. And Cooper Helfet, tight end for the Oakland Raiders, enters the ranks of eco-athletes by co-founding The Nature Project, bringing underserved youth in Washington State. Enjoy your cool News & Notes column on a hot (in New York City at least) Tuesday.

 

ADIDAS, PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS, RUNTASTIC TEAM UP TO SPONSOR DIGITAL + IN PERSON RUNS FOR THE OCEANS

59,136, and 358,150.

Those two numbers represent the total runners and the aggregate miles run in the first #RunForTheOceans during World Oceans Week, June 5-11 and, in particular, on World Oceans Day, June 8. Sponsored by adidas and nonprofit partner Parley for the Oceans, and fitness tracking app Runtastic, the event aggregated the efforts of runners all over the world to raise awareness of the plastic ocean waste issue and other environmental problems plaguing our waterways.

“Digital runners,” no matter their location, logged their mileage on Runtastic. While they ran, they listened to a dedicated playlist to learn more about ocean ecosystems, which are enduring plastic pollution, oil spills and the effects of climate change, including bleached coral reefs and species-threatening acidification.

On World Oceans Day, June 8, the focus was New York City as adidas and Parley hosted an evening in-person 5K run and after-party. The streets along the route were illuminated with blue lights to reflect undersea tones.

 

Manhattan Bridge

The Brooklyn side of the Manhattan Bridge, illuminated in blue for the Run for the Oceans 5K on World Oceans Day, June 8, sponsored by adidas, Parley for the Oceans and Runtastic. (Photo credit: adidas/Parley for the Oceans/Runtastic)

 

Run for the Oceans

Runners gather for the Run for the Oceans 5K in New York City. (Photo credit: adidas/Parley for the Oceans/Runtastic)

 

The adidas-Parley for the Oceans partnership should be familiar to GSB readers: In March, we reported on the launch of the company’s UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneaker, made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste dredged from the ocean around the Maldives, an archipelago that is existentially threatened by climate change off the southern coast of India. Parley for the Oceans, an environmental nonprofit that draws much-needed attention to ocean pollution and waste, has worked with adidas in the design and marketing of the shoe, on a swimwear line and, now, on Run for the Oceans.

 

Parley

Some of the Run for the Oceans runners wore the adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley shoe, made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste. (Photo credit: adidas/Parley for the Oceans)

 

The 2017 edition of Run for the Oceans is just the start. Plans are being developed for a bigger and better 2018—the host city for the in person run is, at present, TBD.

No matter the location, adidas clearly sees the transformative power of Green-Sports. Eric Liedtke, the adidas executive board member responsible for global brands, said in a statement that “At the heart of our brand is the belief that through sport, we have the power to change lives. With the Run for the Oceans, we’re using this power of sport to inspire action.”

 

SOLAR POWER COMES TO VERIZON CENTER

Verizon Center, the downtown Washington, D.C. home of the NBA’s Wizards, WNBA’s Mystics, NHL’s Capitals, and Georgetown Hoyas basketball, is greening. Team and venue owner Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced a partnership last week with Virginia-based WGL Energy Services that will enable the Verizon Center to operate using 25 percent solar energy.

 

Verizon Center

Verizon Center during a Wizards game (Photo credit: Clark Construction)

 

“Sustainability is at the core of our operations across all of Monumental Sports & Entertainment,” Dave Touhey, its president of venues, said in a statement. “We are excited to expand our energy relationship with WGL Energy by entering into this new partnership to bring more renewable energy to Verizon Center.”

Monumental Sports & Entertainment will purchase solar electricity from a third-party-owned solar facility in Frederick County, Md. (about halfway between Washington and Harrisburg, PA), and receive about 4.7 million kWh per year of energy beginning in late 2017 as part of a long-term contract.

“Offsite renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing sectors within the energy industry,” WGL VP and chief revenue officer Louis J. Hutchinson III said in a statement. “As renewable energy offerings continue to mature, it’s exciting to see the sports industry play a major role in sourcing offsite renewable energy.”

The impact for now will be small but meaningful: WGL Energy reports that the carbon emissions avoided as a result of the new arrangement are equivalent to taking nearly 700 cars off the road for one year. It says here that, as the price of solar power continues to drop, Monumental Sports & Entertainment and WGL will up the percentage of Verizon Center electricity generated directly from the sun.

WGL has been the official energy partner of Verizon Center since 2015 and, according to a June 8 story by Scott Allen in The Washington Post, the partnership has reaped some early environmental benefits: “Later this month, Monumental Sports & Entertainment will be honored as one of the Green Sports Alliance’s Innovators of the Year for counterbalancing ‘more than 3,123 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from 201 events’ at Verizon Center in 2016 with carbon offsets.”

While the Trump Administration and other sectors of the federal government are moving backwards with appalling alacrity on climate change and the environment, D.C. area teams, in addition to those housed in the Verizon Center, are moving forward. Nationals Park, home of MLB’s Washington Nationals, was the first professional sports stadium to receive LEED Silver certification when it opened in 2008. The NFL’s Washington Redskins, in a partnership with NRG, installed 8,000 solar panels in a FedEx Field parking lot in 2011. And Audi Field, the future home to Major League Soccer’s D.C. United, is expected to receive LEED Gold certification soon after it opens in 2018.

 

COOPER HELFET & THE NATURE PROJECT

Eco-athletes, to this point a relatively rare breed, are starting to grow in number. Add Cooper Helfet, tight end with the Oakland Raiders, to the list, with The Nature Project.

The brainchild of Helfet and high school pal Charles Post, The Nature Project aims to bring underserved urban youth, starting in Washington State, into nature so that they can learn to love the outdoors and experience the benefits of time spent in nature. You see, both Helfet and Post were raised by families that appreciated the value of nature, the joys of hiking, and exploring in the spectacular forests native to that part of the world.

 

Cooper Helfet

Cooper Helfet (Photo credit: The Nature Project)

 

Cooper, a top lacrosse, football and basketball player in high school, played tight end for Duke and, since 2013, has occupied the fringes of NFL rosters, mostly with the Seattle Seahawks and, as of midway through last season, the hometown Oakland Raiders. While with Seattle, Helfet helped roommate and Seahawks legend, Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, with his community based non-profit, Fam First. After a one year retirement, Lynch signed with his hometown Raiders this offseason so he and Helfet will again be teammates.

One day in the spring of 2014, Charles and Cooper were hiking through Olympic National Park in Washington. Cooper was telling Charles about his experiences working with Fam First, and in particular his understanding that these kids, many of whom had few resources or support, may never have the opportunity to spend a day on the trail or camping under the starts. He talked about wanting to create an opportunity to bring these and other underserved youth into nature so that they too could learn to love the outdoors and experience the benefits of time spent in nature. Charles, who received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Ecology from the University of California, Berkeley and taught courses in field biology and American environmental history as a graduate student instructor, was quick to build upon Cooper’s ideas.

It took three years and $70,000 to put The Nature Project’s vision into motion. Per Charles Post’s June 9 blog post, The Nature Project earlier this spring “brought 200 4th and 5th graders into nature so that they could experience a three day, three night stay at Islandwood—an award winning outdoor education retreat on Bainbridge Island west of Seattle. Joining them, in addition to Helfet, were Seattle Seahawks players Sidney Rice, DeShawn Shed, Jermaine Kerse, Olympic swimmer Emily Silver, mountain athlete and artist Rachel Pohl and members of the University of Washington basketball team.”

 

Sidney Rice

Sidney Rice of the Seattle Seahawks and 4th and 5th graders enjoy a day in the woods through The Nature Project. (Photo credit: The Nature Project)

 

Helfet reacted to the first The Nature Project event as though he had won a Super Bowl, which he did as a member of the Seahawks in 2014^: “The radiant smiles spread across the faces of [the] boys and girls spending their first days in the outdoors gave me an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for getting to share those moments with them. Sometimes it seems as though I forget how magical our natural world can be until you see those wonders through a kid’s eyes experiencing the natural world for the first time…I found myself brimming with joy as I watched kids planted in nature as they climbed trees, ate stinging nettle, saw owls and bald eagles for the first time—all within a few hours of their home communities. Being in the presence of these transformative moments impacted me and the other athletes deeply. ”

 

^ The Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8, over the Denver Broncos at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey

 

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Green-Sports Corporate All Stars: Johnson Controls Helps Green Pro Football Hall of Fame; Aquafil Makes Fibers for 100 Percent Recyclable Swimsuits and Jerseys

GreenSportsBlog’s occasional series, “Green-Sports Corporate All Stars” highlights companies that are taking taking the lead at the intersection of Green + Sports. The first centered on adidas and Patagonia. Today’s second installment features energy efficiency leader Johnson Controls partnering with the Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF) as it expands from its current museum and football stadium footprint into a never-seen-before “football village,” and Aquafil, the Italian company that manufactures ECONYL®, a 100 percent regenerated yarn used in swimsuits and athletic wear.

JOHNSON CONTROLS HELPS GREEN NEW PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME VILLAGE GREEN

When Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker and Stu Lichter, President and Chairman of the Board of Industrial Realty Group, began formulating plans to turn the Canton, OH based museum and football stadium into a village that will include a hotel, retail, medical center, and much more, Johnson Controls was a logical energy efficiency partner. The Milwaukee-based company:

  • Is a global leader in intelligent building design, efficient energy solutions, integrated infrastructure and next generation transportation systems
  • Has significant experience working on high profile, energy efficiency projects, such as the Empire State Building’s massive retrofit that resulted in a 38 percent energy usage reduction.
  • Has worked with the Hall of Fame for many years.

“When the Hall of Fame undertook its last major renovation in 2010, we were hired to do the environmental systems work,” said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, Johnson Controls’ Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, “In addition to energy efficiency advances, part of our mission-critical work helped to protect the archives and artifacts through humidity controls and temperature monitoring. As big as that project was, the Hall of Fame Village is a much bigger undertaking.”

Kim Metcalf-Kupres

Kim Metcalf-Kupres,Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Johnson Controls (Photo credit: Johnson Controls)

 

The $600 million, 9-component^ Village project, currently in the design and strategy phases, is set become the world’s first-ever sports and entertainment “smart city.” Johnson Controls is providing its building management systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, fire and security systems and other technologies. The result will be significant greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and energy efficiency improvements. LEED certification will be sought—the level it will achieve is not yet known.

Johnson Controls, while primarily a B-to-B brand, understands the hold the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have on the American people. Thus it is not only helping to green and provide state of the art technology to the Hall of Fame Village, it is also putting its name on it.

Thus the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village is the company’s first foray into title sponsorship and “will be a powerful marketing and business building for us as it showcases the benefits of a smart, connected, energy efficient, sustainable village for fans, customers and prospective customers.” said Ms. Metcalf-Kupres. “We want our name to be more known, more visible to consumers as the market for smart, efficient buildings grows. And as that happens, our ability to help our customers lead on sustainability, efficiency and climate change will also grow.”

Hall of Fame Village Pro Football HOF

Artist’s rendering of the Johnson Controls Pro Football Hall of Fame Village (Credit: Pro Football Hall of Fame)

 

The way Pro Football Hall of Fame President Baker sees it, Johnson Controls’ is an ideal teammate for the Village project: “The Pro Football Hall of Fame stands for excellence—and so does Johnson Controls, with its leadership from energy efficient lighting to shades that keep heat in during the winter and help keep the building cool in the summer and more.”

 

AQUAFIL’S 100 PERCENT REGENERATED YARNS BECOME ATHLETIC APPAREL WITH ECONYL®

Giulio Bonazzi is a man on a mission.

The Chairman and CEO of Aquafil, manufacturer of yarns for apparel and carpet since opening its doors in 1970, believes humanity has no time to waste as far as making serious reductions in climate change producing carbon emissions is concerned. That is why his company, headquartered in Trento in Northern Italy, has made improving performance on emissions and resource consumption central to its DNA.

Bonazzi G Headshot

Giulio Bonazzi, Chairman and CEO of Aqaufil (Photo credit: Aquafil)

 

“We are, in effect, a chemical plant, one that is located near Lake Garda, one of Italy’s beautiful lakes, and the source of much of region’s water and energy—over 80 percent of which comes from hydro power. We have always realized that we need to keep the lake, the region and the planet clean and to do so, we have to innovate with sustainability at top of mind.”

Aquafil’s signature climate change fighting innovation is the ECONYL® Regeneration System, launched in 2011. ECONYL® yarn is made from Nylon 6, which, according to Mr. Bonazzi, “has a special characteristic that allows it to be regenerated into raw material through de-polymerization. This means you end up with a 100 percent virgin polymer. Nothing is degraded; all of the characteristics are at 100 percent quality.”

This would be a great story in and of itself, but remember, ECONYL® is a system as well as a yarn product

What makes it a system is that the Nylon 6 is produced from 100% regenerated waste materials, such as:

  • Pre-Consumer Waste: Scraps generated from the production of Nylon 6.
  • Post-Consumer Waste: Fishing nets and fluff (the top part of carpets and rugs).

Aquafil_Nets

Fishing nets retrieved from the ocean become raw materials for Aquafil’s Nylon 6 based ECONYL® product (Photo credit: Aquafil)

 

The ECONYL® yarn is manufactured at a dedicated regeneration plant in Slovenia, and then sold to a wide variety of apparel and carpet makers.

Athletic apparel companies are big consumers of ECONYL®. adidas uses it for its Parley swimwear line which was featured in GreenSportsBlog last month. “Parley” refers to adidas’ partnership with nonprofit Parley for the Oceans, which is dedicated to reducing the massive amounts of plastic waste in the oceans. Not to be outdone, Speedo sends its post-production scraps to Aquafil, which recovers the Nylon 6 for manufacture into ECONYL®. Even surfing legend Kelly Slater uses ECONYL® in Outerknown, his line of sustainable swimwear and outerwear. And Volcom uses ECONYL® in its new “Simply Solid” women’s swimwear line, launched last November. The tagline? “Caught Up In A Good Thing.”

 

Surfing legend Kelly Slater describes his/Outerknown’s partnership with ECONYL®

 

 

VOLCOM CAUGHT_UP_LIFESYYLE_3_LOWRES (1)

Volcom “Caught Up in a Good Thing” print ad (Courtesy of Volcom)

 

“Sports and active apparel represents more than 50 percent of our ECONYL® business and the business is growing precisely because of its green properties,” reported Mr. Bonazzi, “And perhaps the most important statistic of all is that ECONYL® yarn has about 80 percent lower global warming potential than standard nylons.”

What about calcio, as soccer is called in Italy, and ECONYL®? “The clubs in Serie A, the top league in Italy, make their jerseys from polyester, as it is cheaper, at least for now,” acknowledged the Aquafil CEO, “Napoli F.C. is making its jerseys from a polypropylene that is better than polyester for the environment but there is much room for improvement. Before we get to Serie A, we see the skiing and cycling apparel markets as strong opportunities for ECONYL®. Right now, Aquafil is the 10th largest nylon fiber maker in world. We expect to move up, thanks to ECONYL® in the sports and apparel markets and also the carpet market, where we are a big player.”

 

 

 

^ The Hall of Fame Village’s 9 components are: Hall of Fame Museum, Tom Benson Stadium (where the annual Hall of Fame Game will be played), 4 Star hotel and Conference Center, Main Street Hall of Fame Village and Retail, Center for Excellence, Performance Center (another football stadium plus basketball arena), Legends Landing (independent and assisted living for Hall of Famers and other NFL legends), National Football & Youth Sports Complex, and the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Experience.

 


 

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Green-Sports Corporate All Stars: adidas Launches Shoe Made from Plastic Ocean Waste; Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” College Tour

Conventional wisdom has it that, given the anti-environmentalist attitudes of the current occupant of the Oval Office, the corporate sector will need to step up, bigly, on behalf of serious action on climate change. With that in mind, GreenSportsBlog will, from time to time, highlight “Green-Sports Corporate All Stars” taking the lead at the intersection of Green + Sports. Today we feature adidas, and its recently launched sneaker made primarily from plastic ocean waste, and Patagonia, the über-Green outdoor sports apparel designer and retailer as it encourages longer life spans for its (and its competitors’) garments. 

 

CORPORATIONS NEED TO STEP UP THEIR CLIMATE CHANGE GAME

The forecast for positive climate change action from the current administration is stormy.

At Tuesday’s sort-of State of the Union, President Trump did not mention climate change. One of his executive orders is designed to eventually allow coal companies to more easily dump waste into streams. Newly installed EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, talks longingly about dismantling the very agency he was hired to run and is a climate change skeptic at best.

All is not gloomy on climate in Washington, D.C.—Republican éminences grises James Baker, Hank Paulson, and George Shultz all endorsed, through their newly formed Climate Leadership Council, a revenue-neutral price on carbon; nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby^ continues to press for something similar among members of Congress from both parties, with some modest successes among House Republicans. But with climate change skeptics and deniers in charge of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, concerted pressure for meaningful, positive climate action will be needed from large corporations that have the heft to force real change, now more than ever.

The news from the corporate sector is mixed. Many have been and are doing great things: from pledging to reduce their carbon footprints and that of their supply chains, to curbing waste, to buying renewable energy and more. But—and this is a huge but—corporations have been much less likely to tout their environmental bona fides to consumers even though they are doing great things. And they have been mute when it comes to lobbying Congress on behalf of action on climate change. 

The good news-bad news on the climate for corporate climate action is also the case in the sports world. Many companies involved in sports are doing the right things, sustainability-wise; fewer are engaging their consumers and/or talking about it.

With that in mind, GreenSportsBlog is today launching a new occasional series, “Green-Sports Corporate All Stars,” in which we highlight the corporations that are making positive things happen at the intersection of Green & Sports.

 

ADIDAS DIVES DEEP TO BRING SNEAKER MADE FROM PLASTIC OCEAN WASTE TO MARKET

“Our ultimate ambition is to eliminate virgin plastic from our supply chain.”

So said Eric Liedtke, adidas Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing, in a November, 2016 press release announcing the launch of the company’s UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneaker, made from 95 percent plastic ocean waste.

Talk about thinking—and acting—big!

GreenSportsBlog first got wind that adidas’ plastic ocean waste shoe plans back in July, 2015. It took 16 months for the Herzogenaurach, Germany-based company to turn concept into reality.

The sneakers are made as part of a partnership with Parley for the Oceans, an environmental nonprofit that draws much-needed attention to ocean pollution and waste. Each shoe’s “upper” (the part that goes over the top of the foot) is made from 5 percent recycled polyester and 95 percent waste plastic (plastic bottles, containers, etc.) dredged from the ocean around the Maldives, an archipelago that is existentially threatened by climate change off the southern coast of India. Most of the rest of the sneaker (including the heel, lining, and laces) is also made from recycled material. 

adidas

adidas UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley sneakers, made from 95 percent ocean waste. (Photo credit: adidas)

 

Priced at approximately $US220, the Uncaged Parley started slowly—only 7,000 pair were stocked at adidas retail outlets worldwide at launch in November—but the company is ramping up quickly, with audacious goals for this year: “We will make one million pair of [Uncaged Parley] shoes in 2017,” said Liedtke.

And adidas is not limiting its recycled-content vision to shoes.

In the February 1 issue of The Druma digital marketing-for-good news source, Tony Connelly reports that adidas brought the SS17 Parley swim collection to market. It  features two designs: a wave print that references the source of its fabric, and a Parley inspired graphic. The swimsuits are made from used fishing nets as well as the upcycled ocean plastic waste similar to that used in the sneakers. 

Speaking to Swimming World magazine, Tim Janaway, general manager of adidas Heartbeat Sports said: “Created with the ethos ‘from the oceans, for the oceans’, the Parley swim collection represents our dedication to consistently deliver swim products that protect that waters in which we perform.” Currently, 50% percent of the company’s swimwear is made from recycled material; that percentage is clearly going to rise.

Check out this spot that brings home the true power of the adidas-Parley for the Oceans collaboration:

The SS17 Parley Swim Collection ad (1:37)

 

PATAGONIA ENCOURAGES COLLEGE STUDENTS TO WEAR CLOTHES LONGER 

Athletic/outdoor-wear designer and retailer Patagonia is one of the greenest companies in the world.

It is also one of the most radical. Don’t believe me? Here is an excerpt from CEO Rose Marcario’s 2016 year-end letter:

For the sake of Planet Earth, let’s all become radical environmentalists. This sounds like a big leap—but it’s not. All you need is a sewing kit and a set of repair instructions. As individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer. This simple act of extending the life of our garments through proper care and repair reduces the need to buy more over time—thereby avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage required to build it.

Why is repair such a radical act? Fixing something we might otherwise throw away is almost inconceivable to many in the heyday of fast fashion and rapidly advancing technology, but the impact is enormous. I tell you this as CEO of a clothing company that, despite a deep commitment to responsible manufacturing, still takes more from the earth than it returns.

Ms. Marcario can’t mean we should wear clothes longer, thus buying less frequently from, say, Patagonia, can she? Oh, yes she can.

You see, Patagonia has embarked on the Worn Wear program which teaches consumers to repair their gear to keep it in action longer, along with providing an easy way to recycle Patagonia garments when they’re beyond repair.

This year, the Patagonia Worn Wear College Tour repair team is bringing its truck, Delia, to campuses all across the country. The team fixes about 40 garments per day of any brand, free of charge, on a first come, first served basis. They also give quick lessons on how to repair clothes, sell used gear at marked-down prices and screen a short film about the Patagonia ethos, The Stories We Wear.  

patagonia-we-wear

patagonia-worn-wear-donnie-hedden

Images from Patagonia’s Worn Wear College Tour. (Photo credit: Donnie Hedden)

 

The Spring 2017 tour started on February 16 at College of Charleston (SC). It’s in the midst of an east coast/New England swing, stopping at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City today and at Yale University on Monday.  The tour wraps up at UC Santa Barbara on April 26. Click here for the entire spring Worn Wear College Tour schedule.

 

^ In the interest volunteer my time on behalf of Citizens’ Climate Lobby
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