Sutton United F.C. Continues Trend of Greening UK Sports from Ground Up

The minor leagues of English soccer/football have become a petri dish of Green-Sports innovation. GreenSportsBlog has featured Forest Green Rovers, the “Greenest Team in Sports” and Dartford F.C. Today, our focus turns to Sutton United F.C., the South London club in the fifth tier of English soccer whose home stadium, Gander Green Lane, became the first to receive The Planet Mark™ sustainability certification.

 

Some of the greatest innovations in Green-Sports are happening in the soccer equivalent of baseball’s low minor leagues. While several Premier League giants, including Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle, have taken strong green-sports actions, it is the mid-to-lower levels of the English soccer/football pyramid where bold sustainable sports innovation is happening. 

Forest Green Rovers of the fourth tier of English Football has become the undisputed Greenest Team on the Planet and a GreenSportsBlog staple through its all-vegan menus, solar powered lawn mowing “mow-bots”, rooftop solar, and more. Last month, GSB featured Princes Park, home of sixth tier Dartford F.C., and, arguably, the greenest of all stadium green roofs in the world.

After hitting “send” on the Dartford F.C. piece, I thought “there can’t be any other small, quaint English soccer/football clubs doing state-of-the-art green-sports things, can there?”

Yes There Can.

Today, we bring you fifth tier Sutton United F.C.. Located just south of Wimbledon, the Amber and Chocolates (how about that for a nickname?) are in the midst of a noteworthy 2017. On the pitch, the club made an improbable run to the fifth round of the FA Cup, the 10 month tournament that involves the entirety of the professional/semi-professional English soccer pyramid, from the Premier League to pub leagues. When Arsenal, the Premier League Goliath, came to the 5,000 seat Gander Green Lane in February, it was the biggest game in Sutton United history. And it was played at the first football stadium to achieve The Planet Mark™ sustainability certification.

 

 

Sutton United

Gander Green Lane, home of Sutton United F.C. (Photo credit: AFTN)

 

The Planet Mark is a three year-old British certification system that recognizes businesses for their sustainability better practices, including waste reductions, detailed carbon footprint measurements and targets, as well as stakeholder engagement. Over 100 organizations have been certified, each committing to reduce their carbon emissions by at least 2.5 percent per year.

Sutton United, which began its sustainability journey in 2011, has certainly earned its Planet Mark designation. They have:

  • Reduced their carbon footprint by 13.6 percent in 2016, led by savings came from gas consumption (down 39 percent). Those reductions were mostly attributed to installing double glazed windows and by decommissioning a leaking boiler in Gander Green Lane’s club buildings
  • Recycled 88 percent of their waste
  • Invested in the Eden Project, a climate change education nonprofit and visitor destination that has officially been added to my bucket list. Nestled in a huge crater in Cornwall, UK, it features massive Biomes housing the largest rainforest in captivity
  • Stored 260 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent (CO₂E) by protecting endangered rainforest through the nonprofit Cool Earth
  • Committed to engage their employees and suppliers to drive improvements.

Dave Farebrother, chairman of the board of directors at Sutton United and an environmentalist, has been the driver of the club’s sustainability initiatives. “We like to say that our club is much more than just the ‘first team’,” enthused Farebrother. “Our community program is very active in the local area. I’ve…been into local schools to talk about sustainability.”

“I think climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face but, as [Sutton United] showed in its magnificent FA Cup run, challenges are there to be overcome,” said Steve Malkin, founder of The Planet Mark. “We are delighted to support Sutton United and, in our small way, contribute to the club’s success.”

Although the clock struck midnight on the Amber and Chocolate’s Cinderella story when Arsenal earned a hard fought 2-0 victory back in February on the way to winning the 2017 FA Cup, Sutton United did earn an estimated quarter of a million pounds from TV broadcasting rights, a significant sum for a club of that smallish size. According to The Planet Mark, “If some of that money is ploughed back into low carbon measures, the club’s position as a sustainability leader will be secured for years to come.”

 

 

Sutton Arsenal

Sutton United (yellow) and Arsenal battle in their February 2017 fifth round FA Cup match at The Planet Mark-certified Gander Green Lane (Photo credit: Caughtoffside.com)

 


 
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GSB Eco-Scoreboard: Catching Up with Green-Sports Leaders on the Field

For the past four years, GreenSportsBlog has featured the teams, athletes and events that are taking the Green-Sports lead. What we haven’t focused on much is how said teams and players have done on the court or field. Well, that changes today as we unveil a new occasional feature, the GSB Eco-Scoreboard: Catching Up with Green-Sports Leaders on the Field, in which we highlight the 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. Also, it’s fun. And if there’s one thing the climate change/environmental world can use more of — including the Green-Sports niche — is fun.

 

Dartford F.C.

Dartford Football Club in Kent, located 18 miles southeast of London has always resided in the lower rungs of the English football (soccer) pyramid and is currently in the sixth tier.

Yet this classic “small club” has gone big when it comes to sustainability. Its 11 year-old Princes Park was built with sustainable construction materials, boasts on-site solar panels, an advanced rainwater reclamation system and a green roof.

 

Princes Park Green Roof

Princes Park, home of Dartford F.C., and its green roof (Photo credit: Dartford F.C.)

 

On the pitch, Dartford F.C. has one major goal this season: Earn promotion to the fifth tier National League by finishing first in the National League South. After its high octane 4-2 home win on Tuesday over Eastbourne Borough, Dartford moved into a 4-way tie for first place. There’s a long way to go — Dartford just played the 11th game of its 42-game season — but the early signs are strong.

Next up for “The Darts” is a Saturday visit to 17th place Weston-super-Mare A.F.C. (I love these British team names).

 

Forest Green Rovers

Sticking with the minor leagues of English football, we turn to Forest Green Rovers.

Its owner, Dale Vince, OBE, who also owns solar and wind company Ecotricity, has set out to turn the West Midlands club into the Greenest Team in Sports. From solar panels on the roof to an organic pitch that is mowed by a solar powered mow-bot to exclusively-vegan concession stands, Vince and FGR has succeeded in setting the Green-Sports pace.

Vince realizes that the FGR Green Story will get more attention and followers the better the team does on the pitch.

On that score, the team made a significant leap when it earned promotion in May from the fifth tier National League to fourth tier League Two for the first time in its 125 year history.

Now the trick is to stay in League Two this season — to do so, FGR cannot finish in the bottom two places or it will be relegated back down from whence they came. And it won’t be easy as stepping up a league means a significant step up in competition.

FGR has had a scratchy start to the 2017-2018 season, earning but one win and one tie from their first seven contests. Thus Saturday’s match at Port Vale was key as a loss would mean FGR would be in the dreaded “relegation zone,” a place you don’t want to be, even this early in the season (eight matches have been played in the 46-game schedule).

And things looked dicey when Port Vale took the lead in the 20th minute. But, in the 66th minute, Omar Bugiel entered the game for FGR as a substitute and two minutes later, the the Lebanese National Team member leveled things with a glancing header. From then on, FGR applied constant pressure but could not net the game winner. Still, a tie on the road was a solid result and keeps FGR out of the relegation zone for now.

 

Omar Bugiel FGR

Lebanese international Omar Bugiel scored the equalizer for Forest Green Rovers in their 1-1 draw at Port Vale on Saturday (Photo credit: Forest Green Rovers)

 

Friday night, Forest Green Rovers’ fight to stay above danger continues when 10th place Swindon Town F.C. comes to The New Lawn.

 

Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals

GreenSportsBlog has closely followed the 25 year old Redbirds outfielder after interviewing him in January. Why did we talk to Piscotty? Two reasons:

  1. Coming off of a stellar first full season in the big leagues, with 25 homers and 85 RBIs, Piscotty was primed for a breakout 2017 campaign.
  2. A 2015 Stanford graduate, with a degree in Atmosphere and Energy Engineering, Piscotty is the rare athlete to express serious knowledge of and interest in clean tech—specifically solar and smart grid.

 

Manager of Photography

Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder (Photo credit: Taka Yanagimoto/St. Louis Cardinals)

 

Unfortunately, Piscotty has had a very rough second season:  Two stints on the disabled list with hamstring and groin injuries combined with a sophomore slump at the plate led to a demotion to Triple-A Memphis in early August.

But these struggles pale in comparison to the news Piscotty received over Memorial Day that his mother, Gretchen, had been diagnosed with ALS^ or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

As the July 31st trade deadline approached, rumors surfaced that the Cardinals were trying to deal Piscotty to the Oakland A’s to allow him to be nearer to his mom and family in the Bay Area. That trade did not come to pass.

In fact, Piscotty was sent back up to St. Louis from Memphis after only a couple weeks. Shortly thereafter, he launched a game-winning homer against the Padres on September 6 in San Diego, with his mom in the stands. This gave a much-needed boost to the Cardinals in their long shot bid to make the playoffs — as of this writing, the Redbirds are 4.5 games out of a wild card berth with 13 games to go.

 

^ If you are interested in donating to support ALS research, please click here for a link to the ALS Association

 


 

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GSB News and Notes: Dartford F.C., Another Lower Level English Football Club Goes Green; Adidas Green Investments Grow; Italian Motorcycle Racing Embraces Sustainability

GreenSportsBlog has written often about Forest Green Rovers F.C., which plays in the fourth tier of English football/soccer. But the “Greenest Team in Sports” is not the only mid-lower tier club to build sustainability into its DNA. Dartford F.C., which currently plays in England’s sixth tier, has also made a significant greening commitment. Adidas has increased its use of green bonds.  And the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini motorcycle race gives sustainability a high profile. All in a post Labor Day GSB News & Notes.

 

DARTFORD F.C. GIVES FOREST GREEN ROVERS COMPETITION IN ENGLISH FOOTBALL SUSTAINABILITY GAME

Starting out in 1888, the Dartford Football Club in Kent, located 18 miles southeast of London, was formed by members of a local workingmen’s club. The club has always toiled in the middle-lower rungs of the English football pyramid, most often being situated between the fifth and eighth tiers.

The club ran into serious financial difficulties 1992, forcing it to leave its venerable Watling Street ground. Over the next 14 years, the club became a nomad, moving from stadium to stadium until a new injection of funding and a commitment to build a permanent home venue arrived from owners Steve Irving and Dave Skinner. They also determined that the stadium would be on the cutting edge from an environmental point of view.

Dartford F.C.’s 4,097 seat Princes Park, which opened in 2006, became the UK’s first sustainable, purpose-built small-sized stadium. It:

  • Is within walking distance of the city centre, which reduces vehicular traffic as compared to other like sized stadiums that are often sited on the perimeter of a city or town
  • Boasts on-site solar panels, state-of-the-art (for 2006) insulation, and energy efficient lighting
  • Has an advanced reclaimed rainwater system. Water run-off from the green roof is controlled through sustainable drainage systems into two lakes constructed along with the stadium. The lakes ensure that in an average rainfall year, the pitch/field can be watered and maintained without using the town’s water supply.
  • Was built with sustainable construction materials
  • Uses under floor heating on both levels of the clubhouse, which provide a more energy efficient method of heating the building
  • Reused excavated earth to landscape the external courtyard areas around the stadium

While this is groundbreaking, what really sets Princes Park’s design apart from other similarly sized stadia is its bold use of sustainably harvested timber and green roofs for the clubhouse and terraces. The timber is much lighter, compared with steel and concrete, which made it easier and less energy intensive to transport. Its insulation properties and low thermal mass help to reduce fuel usage and bills. The green roof offers a natural cooling and air filtration system.

 

Princes Park Green Roof

Princes Park, with its distinctive and state of the art green roof, serves as the home of Dartford F.C. in Kent England (Photo credit: Sustainability in Sport)

 

So now GreenSportsBlog has two smallish-but-green clubs to pull for in English soccer: Forest Green Rovers, now in the fourth tier, and Dartford F.C., now in the sixth.

 

ADIDAS GREENENERGY FUND REACHES $10.8 MILLION

The Adidas Group greenENERGY Fund is a capital investment fund originally created in 2012 to accelerate the company’s carbon reductions, attain and verify energy and cost savings, as well as document and share best practices across all of its facilities. Individual Adidas manufacturing and administrative sites submit applications for efficiency projects to the company’s Finance, Engineering, and Corporate Real Estate Steering Committee, which evaluates applications based on their projected impact on the entire portfolio of projects. Adidas’ fund set an aggressive portfolio level goal of 20 percent Internal Rate of Return (IRR) on the energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Projects with lower returns can be pursued as long as they are balanced by projects with higher than average results.

 

adidas green

Adidas Group’s corporate headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Renovations and environmental improvements there and at other company facilities, are funded in part by the Adidas Group greenEnergy Fund (Photo credit: Adidas Group)

 

As of December, the fund has invested $10.8 million in 61 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects since it began in 2012 and forecasts an impressive IRR of 29 percent across the entire project portfolio. Worth noting is the fact that several energy savings projects were identified by Adidas’ workforce.

 

MOTORCYCLING CHAMPIONSHIPS IN ITALY GO GREEN

Environmental and social sustainability will be among the key ingredients at the Gran Premio TIM San Marino e Riviera di Rimini, the 13th round of the 2017 World Motorcycling Championship. It will take place this weekend (September 8-10) at the Misano World Circuit in Rimini, Italy on the Adriatic coast.

The KiSS (Keep it Shiny and Sustainable) Misano program aims to make spectators, racing teams and riders more aware of the importance of environmental and social sustainability at motorcycling events.

  • Spectators are encouraged by a multi-media ad and social media (#kissmissano) campaign, to come to the circuit by using public means of transportation, car pooling, bicycles
  • Recycling and used battery bins will be deployed all around the race circuit
  • Used cooking oil will be collected for transformation into biofuel
  • Surplus food from the hospitality suites will be collected and donated

 

Pisano Circuit

Aerial view of the Misano World Circuit in Rimini, Italy (Photo credit: LCR Honda)

 

KiSS Misano is a ratcheting up of the event’s longstanding sustainability heritage. In 2011 the Misano circuit became the first in Italy to be equipped with a photovoltaic solar system that produces some 450,000 Kw per year. Last year’s World Ducati Week, which drew more than 60,000 visitors) was the first motorcycling event in Italy to obtain the “sustainable event” certification according to the ISO 2012-1 standard.

Coordinating the Misano circuit’s greening efforts is Right Hub, an Italian sustainability start-up that recently obtained B Corporation certification.