GSB News and Notes: Veja Enters Running for World’s Most Sustainable Sneaker Maker; Arsenal Can Run Match-Day Power via Battery; Field Hockey Seeks Sustainable Alternative to H₂O-Reliant Artificial Turf

GreenSportsBlog spans the globe in today’s News & Notes column. First, we go to Paris to tell the story of how outsider sneaker brand Veja is challenging green giants Adidas and Nike on sustainability. Then we head to North London to check out Arsenal and its newly-deployed, Tesla-made storage battery. And we end up in India where the governing body of international field hockey (FIH) is committing to develop waterless artificial turf fields.

 

VEJA JOINS ADIDAS AND NIKE IN BATTLE FOR WORLD’S MOST SUSTAINABLE SNEAKER TITLE

Adidas, with its Parley for the Oceans line of athletic footwear (and apparel) made from repurposed and upcycled materials, including plastic ocean waste, is a strong contender for most sustainable sneaker company in the world. Rival Nike would no doubt protest, citing its super-light, super-efficient Flyknit sneaker line which reduces waste by 80 percent, as the reason why they should be the green champ.

But both athletic shoe giants had better watch out for a new entrant into the mix, Paris-based fashion brand Veja.

 

Veja

A Veja sneaker being manufactured in Brazil (Photo credit: Veja)

 

The primary goal of Veja co-founders Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion, is to manufacture sneakers from the most ecological materials and ethical suppliers possible. According to Alyssa Danigelis, writing in the November 12 issue of Environmental Leader, “The company uses raw materials sourced from organic farming and ecological agriculture in Brazil.” The footwear is manufactured there as well.

 

Kopp Morillion

Veja co-founders Sébastien Kopp (l) and François-Ghislain Morillion (Photo credit: Corentin Fohlen, Encore)

 

Danigelis reports that the duo call Veja “their ‘project,’ with one foot in design and the other in social responsibility.” On the latter, Kopp and Morillion are committed to protecting the Amazon, upcycling materials, and being transparent about chemical testing.

“A lot of our clients are discovering what is behind Veja after they buy one or two pairs,” Kopp told Andrea Lo of CNN Business. “[They] usually come back for more after learning the brand’s story.”

Veja, which means “look!” in Portuguese, and its sneakers are drawing attention from celebrities like Meghan Markle — the Duchess of Sussex — and others, for the right reasons:

  • The company purchases organic cotton directly from farmer associations in Brazil and Peru, all while respecting fair trade principles.
  • Each sneaker sole is made from 30 – 40% natural rubber. Since 2004, Veja has purchased 130 tons of wild rubber, preserving 120,000 hectares of the Amazon.
  • One Veja sneaker SKU is 100 percent vegan…
  • …The others that do contain leather only use product that has been certified Gold by the Leather Working Group. And some of it is “fish leather” from tilapia that has been discarded by freshwater fish farms. According to Danigelis, “the skin gets upcycled through a handcrafted process involving vegetable dyeing.”
  • Kopp and Morillion are Veja’s sole shareholders because they believe that bringing in outside investors could compromise the company’s integrity.

The founders are transparent about their limitations. Per Danigelis, Veja’s “shoelaces aren’t made from organic cotton and the eyelets…come from metal the company didn’t source themselves.”

Since it costs five to seven times more for Veja to make sneakers than it does Adidas, Nike and the others, the founders decided to stay away from advertising and rely instead on word-of-mouth. This has allowed Kopp and Morillion to stay competitive on retail price, which ranges from $95 to $195.

GSB’s Take: Absent taking a deep dive into sustainability reports from Adidas, Nike and Veja, it is impossible to say which sneaker company is the most sustainable. But with Veja demonstrating a serious, long-standing commitment to using organic and eco-friendly raw materials, it shows it belongs in the conversation. I expect that the green race between the two giants and the hungry outsider will be a virtuous one.

 

ARSENAL STORAGE BATTERY CAN HOLD ENOUGH ELECTRICITY TO POWER A FULL GAME

When Arsenal hosts English Premier League blood rival Tottenham Hotspur at The Emirates Stadium Sunday at 9:05 AM EST in the latest version of the “North London Derby,” the outcome may be determined by which of the two quality sides has the most energy.

Regardless of the result on the pitch, Arsenal has a decided advantage in energy storage.

The team recently unveiled a Tesla-manufactured battery storage unit at its 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium in north London that can store enough energy to run the stadium for 90 minutes, the length of a match.

 

Arsenal Tesla Storage

The Tesla storage system at Emirates Stadium in North London, home of Arsenal (Photo credit: David Price/Arsenal Football Club)

 

Per a November 26 story by Patrick Hodges in Bloomberg“the two-megawatt lithium-ion battery installed by Pivot Power LLP — which will operate it for 15 years — will allow the soccer club to buy electricity when it’s cheaper and use it at peak times. Arsenal said it plans to add a further one megawatt of storage next summer.”

The battery can also generate income for the club through a deal with utility company National Grid in which the battery can be used to stabilize the grid. Basically, the Arsenal battery can sell electrons to the utility on non-game days when demand is high.

“This is a big step forward for us in being efficient with energy usage, and building on our work in reducing our carbon footprint as an organization,” said Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal’s managing director, in a statement on http://www.arsenal.com.

 

Arsenal Vinai

Vinai Venkatesham, Arsenal Football Club managing director (Photo credit: The Economic Times)

 

Arsenal already was a Premier League green leader. It was the first club to switch to 100 percent green electricity — supplied by Octopus Energy — and the team installed energy efficient LED floodlights.

“Arsenal is showing how football clubs and other big power users can save money and support the U.K.’s climate change and clean air targets,” said Pivot Power’s Chief Executive Officer Matt Allen. “Batteries are central to creating a cost-effective, low-carbon economy.”

GSB’s Take: While the price of energy storage has come down dramatically — and that trend is projected to continue — big increases in the deployment of batteries at stadia and arenas will also depend on future reductions in their size. 

 

FIELD HOCKEY LOOKS FOR MORE WATER-EFFICIENT ARTIFICIAL TURF

International field hockey made a commitment to water efficiency at the recent 46th FIH Congress in New Delhi.

Thierry Weil, the governing body’s CEO, said that while international hockey at the highest level would continue to be played on artificial turf, the federation was in talks with key manufacturers and suppliers to develop a surface that would not consume water. The current surface requires constant watering to allow a smooth game and minimize injuries.

 

Field Hockey

Field hockey at the international level is played on Astro turf, which requires lot of water to make the surface playable (Photo credit: L. Balachandar/SportsStar LIVE)

 

“We are looking to achieve this by the Paris Olympics in 2024, but try and do it much earlier, develop a surface close to the quality we have right now on turf with water,” Weil told Uthra Ganesan of Sportstar LIVE. “We cannot continue to put all this water on turf when people next door may not have enough to drink.”

GSB’s Take: India and Pakistan, hotbeds of world-class field hockey, are both suffering significant water shortages and those are projected to continue. Thus it makes sense for the FIH to take on the water crisis by working to develop artificial surfaces that don’t use H₂O. I wonder if there will soon be a natural grass surface that uses little to no water. If so, grass would be preferable to a waterless artificial surface because the latter is much hotter. 


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GSB News and Notes: U of Miami Football to Debut Eco-Conscious Uniforms; University of Louisiana-Lafayette Football Goes Zero-Waste; LA Galaxy and StubHub Center Go Strawless;

As our US-based GreenSportsBlog readers head out for the Labor Day weekend, we’re offering up a GSB News & Notes for your end-of-summer reading pleasure. The University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes will open their 2018 football season against LSU in Arlington, TX wearing eco-conscious uniforms from Adidas and Parley for the Oceans. But should the Hurricanes also be taking on climate change, given Miami’s vulnerability to it? About 60 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, the UL-Lafayette is embarking on a journey to host Louisiana’s first Zero-Waste football games. And, MLS’ LA Galaxy and the Stub Hub Center add to the growing number of teams and venues eliminating plastic straws.

 

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI HURRICANES DON ECO-FRIENDLY UNIFORMS; WHEN WILL THEY TAKE ON CLIMATE CHANGE?

When the University of Miami Hurricanes take the field Sunday night in their nationally televised season opener against LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, they will do so wearing new, alternate uniforms made from repurposed and upcycled materials, including plastic ocean waste. The uniforms are the result of a partnership between Miami, Adidas and Parley For The Oceans.

 

Miami Parley E-L

The University of Miami Hurricanes will take the field Sunday at LSU in eco-friendly alternate uniforms, thanks to a partnership with Adidas and Parley for the Oceans (Photo credit: Environmental Leader)

 

While the Hurricanes are the first American football team to partner with Parley for the Oceans and Adidas, they are following in the footsteps of European club soccer giants Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in wearing the eco-friendly alternate uniforms.

 

Real Madrid Parley

The Real Madrid, Parley for the Oceans-Adidas jersey (Photo credit: Adidas)

 

More than 70 percent of the special-edition uniform is fashioned from regenerated Econyl yarn (made by Aquafil of Trento, Italy), a raw material transformed from fishing nets and other nylon waste intercepted in marine environments, and from Parley Ocean Plastic, which also comes from waste that was intercepted from beaches and coastal communities. The result is a “durable, yet breathable fabric that is optimal for Adidas performance apparel,” according to a statement from the Hurricanes. Players will also wear cleats and gloves featuring recycled materials. The statement claims the cleats are the first-ever styles of eco-conscious footwear to be debuted on-field for NCAA football competition.

“Our players and staff are excited to wear the new adidas Parley jerseys and gear for our season opener,” Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said in a statement. “We’re also excited that Adidas and Parley are teaming up with UM to help promote sustainability around the world.”

 

 

I am happy to see the University of Miami take the Adidas-Parley plunge and to engage on the plastic ocean waste issue. Sports teams engaging on the environment is still too rare so this is a positive.

But (you knew there was going to be a but, right?), from where I sit, climate change is by far the biggest environmental challenge humanity faces — in fact, I’d argue it is the biggest challenge humanity faces, period. Bigger even than the plastic ocean waste issue.

And the Hurricanes are arguably the most logical big time college football program to take on climate change. After all, Miami is one of the world’s most vulnerable cities to the effects of climate change, including sea level rise. So I think UM missed the boat by not tying the Adidas-Parley uniforms to climate change as well as plastic ocean waste.

Maybe next year? What do you think?

 

 

UL-LAFAYETTE’S CAJUN FIELD LOOKS TO BECOME FIRST ZERO-WASTE STADIUM IN LOUISIANA

Take I-10 west 56 miles from the LSU campus in Baton Rouge and you arrive at the , University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cajuns of the mid-level Sun Belt Conference play in the sizable shadow of perennial national power LSU of the powerful Southeastern Conference (SEC).

But UL-Lafayette is second to none in the Bayou State when it comes to Green-Sports. They are making a concerted effort to host Zero-Waste football games at 36,900 seat Cajun Field, starting with Saturday night’s opening game vs. Grambling.

 

Cajun Field

Cajun Field, home of the greening UL-Lafayette Cajuns (Photo credit: UL-Lafayette)

 

“This year we’re making the really big leap forward in removing all trash cans from inside Cajun Field and we’re only going to have recycling and compost cans,” Gretchen Vanicor, the director of UL-Lafayette’s Office of Sustainability, told Lafayette’s News15.

The university introduced recycling cans in and around the stadium in 2014. And replacing trash cans with compost cans is part of the school’s plan to get towards Zero-Waste (which means diverting at least 90 percent of waste from landfill), while also saving money.

“The great parts about doing sustainable operations is usually it’s not just better for the environment, it’s better for our economics too,” shared Vanicor, “Diverting food waste from landfill by composting means we pay far less in tipping fees. When we can find those projects that are sustainable economically but also environmentally, then we always go after them.”

The Cajuns are quite serious when it comes to going after Zero-Waste:

  • Food will be served on biodegradable plates or in reusable containers.
  • Wooden spoons, forks and knives will replace plastic utensils.
  • Drinks will be served from either aluminum cans or recyclable plastic cups, and fans will be able to request compostable straws.
  • Styrofoam cups will be nowhere in sight
  • And, as UL-Lafayette sustainability coordinator Monica Rowand told Josh Meny of KATC-TV3, “we’re switching this year to eco-craft, compostable paper [to line pizza boxes]”

 

 

According to Vanicor, Zero-Waste at football games is only a first step at UL-Lafayette: “We really want to be leaders both in our region and in our state for sustainability and our goal eventually is to get to the point where we’re a zero waste university.”

It seems to me as though LSU can learn from UL-Lafayette, at least in terms of Zero-Waste if not on the football field. Hey, they should play each other but that’s a story for a different column.

 

STUBHUB CENTER AND LA GALAXY ELIMINATE PLASTIC STRAWS

StubHub Center, the Carson, California home of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy and, until 2020, the LA Chargers of the NFL, is now offering paper straws upon request to minimize pollution from plastic straws.

Fans will be provided paper straws upon request, with a limited number of plastic straws still available to serve those with special needs. An estimated 250,000 plastic straws will be kept out of landfills annually due to this new approach at StubHub Center

The initiative, in conjunction with food and beverage provider Levy, as part of the Galaxy’s Protect the Pitch sustainability program, launched last Friday when the team played crosstown rival LAFC to a 1-1 draw. By doing so, StubHub Center became the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS to serve drinks during games without a plastic straw.

 

El Trafico Corner of the Galaxy

LA Galaxy (white) and LAFC battle in their “El Trafico” rivalry game on August 24. That was the first game at StubHub Center to feature paper straws (Photo credit: Corner of the Galaxy)

 

The policy will also be in effect for all Los Angeles Chargers NFL games at StubHub Center.

“We are proud to continue to increase our sustainability efforts throughout StubHub Center in all of our gameday operations,” said StubHub Center General Manager Katie Pandolfo in a statement. “Protecting our environment is paramount and reducing single-use plastic straws can greatly decrease plastic pollution in our oceans.”

 


 

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GSB News & Notes: Boston University and Eversource Partner to Save Energy at Hockey Arena; Adidas Sells One Million Shoes Made from Recycled Plastic Ocean Waste; One Man Uses Soccer to Teach Sustainability in Rural South Africa

GSB News & Notes spans the globe to bring you the constant variety of Green-Sports: Boston University’s men’s and women’s hockey teams are powerhouses. Off the ice, thanks to a partnership with utility Eversource, BU hockey is saving power at Agganis Arena. Adidas reaches a major Green-Sports milestone by selling its one millionth pair of shoes made from recycled plastic ocean waste. And a soccer-loving environmentalist in South Africa shows how one man can make a difference. 

 

COLLEGE HOCKEY POWERHOUSE BOSTON UNIVERSITY SAVES POWER IN PARTNERSHIP WITH EVERSOURCE

Boston University is a collegiate sports rarity in that neither football nor basketball are king. That honor goes to hockey as the Terriers, both men and women, are a true powerhouse. The men’s program has won five national championships and appeared in 22 Frozen Fours since 1950. The relatively young women’s program, only in its 10th year of Division I play, is still looking for its first national title but they have advanced to two Frozen Fours. And now, its home rink, the sparkling 7,200-seat Agganis Arena, is becoming a green-sports power by using significantly less of it.

And that makes BU MBA and lifelong Boston sports fan Jeff Pollock very happy.

You see, Pollock leads marketing, product management and development for Eversource, the utility company that serves the Boston area and 50 percent of Massachusetts overall, as well as 50 percent of New Hampshire and more than 70 percent of Connecticut. Developing and implementing innovative energy efficiency programs is a big priority for Eversource; marketing those programs is the responsibility of Pollock and his team.

 

Jeff Pollock_Eversource

Jeff Pollock of Eversource (Photo credit: Eversource)

 

Colleges and universities are ideal energy efficiency customers for Eversource since they are very big and high-profile energy users. BU, the largest landowner in Boston, has a major impact on local real estate. And men’s and women’s hockey is about as high profile as it gets in the BU universe.

 

Agannis Arena

Agganis Arena, home of BU men’s and women’s hockey (Photo credit: Boston University)

 

Since 2014, Eversource and BU have had a strategic agreement which takes a holistic approach to deliver the most energy savings to the university and help achieve its Climate Action Plan goals to reach zero carbon emissions by 2040. The project at Agganis Arena is an important part of that effort.

“We see athletics as a huge opportunity for carbon emissions reductions and cost savings, with lighting, heating and cooling being the prime levers,” said Pollock.

At Agganis Arena, a lighting upgrade from fluorescents to longer-lasting, efficient LED’s resulted in a 65 percent reduction in electricity usage. The quality of light improved, exceeding NCAA standards, making it easier for players and fans to see the puck. And the lighting retrofit went beyond just the bulbs. “We outfitted Agganis with a state-of-the-art lighting control system that can be managed remotely,” noted Pollack.

I think these are good first steps — steps that many greening sports venues have taken. And, though BU actively promotes its green efforts through its Sustainability@BU website and social media channels, the university, with Eversource’s support, can do more. A strong next step would be to tell its greening story directly to fans at Agganis Arena — engaging them to take similar environmental actions at home — via scoreboard messaging and other signage.

Beyond BU, Eversource has done energy efficiency work at Fenway Park and has also worked with the University of Connecticut on energy-saving improvements at Gampel Pavilion, the home of women’s and men’s basketball. In addition to an LED lighting system, the upgrade included the installation of variable-frequency drives (VFDs) to regulate air handlers and the replacement of the original chillers and cooling towers with modern equipment for more efficient heating and cooling.

 

ADIDAS REACHES A MAJOR MILESTONE: ONE MILLION SHOES SOLD MADE FROM RECYCLED PLASTIC OCEAN WASTE

In a recent appearance on CNBC, adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted — discussing where the global sportswear company decides to invest its money — when he casually mentioned that “we last year sold one million shoes made out of ocean plastic”.

The astonishing figure was achieved through its partnership with Parley for the Oceans, a nonprofit which works to reduce plastic ocean waste and, in the process, protect ocean wildlife.

It is estimated that each adidas UltraBOOST Parley sneaker reuses 11 plastic bottles. Each shoe’s “upper” (the part that goes over the top of the foot) is made from five 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 Parley sneakers, made from 95 percent ocean waste. (Photo credit: adidas)

 

The partnership with Parley for the Oceans is a powerful example of adidas’ commitment to sustainability. “That’s where we invest money – companies that have the technology that we need, companies that have materials that are unique,” shared Mr Rorsted during the CNBC interview. “We are investing much more in [partners] that make a step forward in sustainability, or makes the manufacturing process much more sophisticated”.

 

SOCCER INSPIRES ENVIRONMENTALISM IN RURAL SOUTH AFRICA

Is it true that “one person can make a difference” on vast, global issues like conservation and pollution? A lone environmentalist in a remote part of South Africa is working to prove the truth of this adage by using sports to educate young people about sustainable practices.

Raymond Langa, living near St Lucia on the country’s east coast, was so concerned with the environmental problems in his community that he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“I am always frustrated by the environmental degradation activities taking place in areas of significance for conservation,” said Mr. Langa to the Zululand Observer. “My area has many wetlands with an abundance of wildlife, seasonal birds and waterfowl. I have identified one area which is very significant to the entire village, but households living next to it dump all types of filth into it”.

 

Raymond Langa

Raymond Langa (Photo credit: iSimangaliso.com)

 

So Mr. Langa teamed up with the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to teach local young people about the importance of sustainability and environmental protection. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, spanning 1,270 square miles — roughly twice the size of London — along the coast. The park is home to a stunning range of biodiversity, including coral reefs, dunes, forests and rare animals, such as the black rhino, African leopard and dolphins.

Langa’s idea was to teach young people about the importance of their spectacular neighborhood and the wildlife in it by hosting a sports event on the grounds of one of the villages bordering the southern section of the World Heritage Site.

The iSimangaliso and Dukuduku Sports Tournament, organized by Langa, featured soccer and netball — an offshoot of basketball — for school children. At the same time, workshops were hosted on conservation, environmental care and sustainable tourism.

 

Zululand Reporter

Raymond Langa and his student-athletes at the iSimangaliso and Dukuduku tournament in eastern South Africa (Photo credit: Zululand Observer)

 

In a sign that the initiative was paying immediate dividends, one participant told the Zululand Observer, “I have gained more than I was expecting to from today’s game. I learned the importance of iSimangaliso and why the youth should protect the environment”.

 

 


 

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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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