GSB News and Notes: New Winner of MLB’s Green Glove Award; Former UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres To Co-Lead Formula E’s Advisory Board; Pollution Stops Play at Delhi Cricket Match

The highs and lows of Green-Sports are reflected in today’s GSB News & Notes: On the high side, MLB’s “Green Glove” award goes to the Seattle Mariners for the first time. And Formula E’s stature on the global sports stage continues to grow as it appoints former UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres to co-lead its Global Advisory Board. As for a down note, a major cricket match in Delhi between Sri Lanka and India was repeatedly interrupted due to excessive air pollution. 

 

SEATTLE MARINERS WIN “GREEN GLOVE” AWARD, ENDING SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS’ NINE YEAR REIGN AS MLB CLUB WITH HIGHEST WASTE DIVERSION RATE

The Seattle Mariners, a founding member of the Green Sports Alliance, were recently awarded Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) “Green Glove Award” in recognition of their sustainability efforts at Safeco Field this season, ending the nine year reign of the San Francisco Giants.

 

Safeco Field Ballparks of Baseball

Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, winners of MLB’s Green Glove Award for 2017 (Photo credit: Ballparks of Baseball)

 

According to a November 28 story on MLB.com by Greg Johns, the Mariners were recognized as the MLB club with the highest rate of waste diversion from landfill:

The M’s, who replaced concourse garbage cans with compost and recycling bins, diverted 96 percent of waste materials from the ballpark in 2017, up from 90 percent a year ago.

And the Mariners sustainability efforts go much deeper than waste diversion. The club:

  • Was the first in MLB to use energy-efficient LED lights.
  • Hired cleaning crews to separate plastics and compostable waste by hand after each game
  • Manages an urban garden which provides vegetables, herbs and radishes to concession stands and restaurants at the ballpark.
  • Work with Eco-Products to utilize compostable serviceware like soft drink, beer and coffee cups, plates, lids, and cutlery at Safeco Field
  • Participated, along with the Seahawks, Sounders and more than 100 other Seattle-based businesses, in the “Strawless in Seattle” September effort. This innovative program, developed by the Lonely Whale Foundation, worked to reduce the use of plastic straws in the fight against ocean pollution.

 

“We are thrilled to present the Seattle Mariners with the 2017 Green Glove Award,” said Paul Hanlon, senior director of ballpark operations and sustainability for Major League Baseball, in a statement. “With its 96 percent conversion rate at the top of the list, the club has done a tremendous job of promoting and instilling sustainability practices and initiatives that will positively impact our environment.”

“We have worked hard over the years to make Safeco Field one of the ‘greenest’ ballparks in pro sports,” said Mariners senior vice president of ballpark operations Trevor Gooby, in a statement. “With our hospitality partner Centerplate, and our founding sustainability partner BASF, we have been able to significantly reduce our impact on the environment.”

 

CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, FORMER UN CLIMATE CHIEF, TO LEAD FORMULA E GLOBAL ADVISORY BOARD

Sam Bird of Great Britain, driving for the DS Virgin team, won the opening race of the 2017-2018 Formula E season in Hong Kong 10 days ago.

Off the race track, the increasingly popular open wheel electric vehicle (EV) street racing circuit added serious climate change chops to its Global Advisory Board when in named former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres as co-leader. She will be joined by Alain Prost, the retired 4-time Formula One world champion from France.

 

Christiana Figueres GreenBiz

Christiana Figueres, new co-leader of Formula E (Photo credit: United Nations)

 

The Formula E Global Advisory Board plays an important role in the growth of the circuit, and more broadly, EV racing and adoption. Per a November 28 article in CleanTechnica by James Ayre, the board advises relevant parties on topics relating to “sustainability, the media, and business.”

Reuters reports that Figueres and Prost will lead a board made up of motor sports and business all-stars, including “Formula E founder Alejandro Agag, chairman of Chinese telecommunications leader SINA Charles Chao, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief marketing officer Gerd Mauser, and former McLaren Formula 1 team boss Martin Whitmarsh. Brazil’s reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi and Swiss private bank Julius Baer’s head of global sponsor[ship] Marco Parroni are also on the board.”

 

I cannot think of a stronger, more important voice to help lead Formula E from post start up to maturity than Christiana Figueres.

A longtime Costa Rican diplomat, Figueres served as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She is most well known for her work helping to push 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries, across the finish line. She has been a strong, consistent voice behind the global need to rapidly move away from the use of fossil fuels and towards the widespread adoption of EVs and other types of electric-powered mobility. This is, of course, Formula E’s raison d’être.

“In order to meet the objectives set out by the Paris agreement and prevent global temperatures spiralling out of control, we must have a need for speed and react quickly,” Figueres said in a statement. “This unique forum at Formula E will allow us to bring great minds together with the same common goal, speeding-up the transition and use of electric vehicles in everyday life.”

She will help preside over a season that will feature races in three new cities (Santiago, Chile; Sao Paulo, Brazil and Rome), a return to the streets of Brooklyn in early July and a finale in Montreal July 28-29.

 

 

SRI LANKAN CRICKETERS BECOME ILL DUE TO POLLUTION DURING MATCH IN DELHI

My mental picture of cricket, admittedly a sport about which I know next to nothing, includes a gigantic oval field with no foul territory, players dressed in all white, somewhat formal uniforms, and those same players relaxing during a break for a spot of tea.

That vision most certainly does not include, well, vomiting.

Maybe I need a new glasses prescription.

Michael Safi reported in Sunday’s issue of The Guardian, with assistance from Agence France-Presse, that a cricket Test match# in Delhi between India and Sri Lanka “was repeatedly interrupted on Sunday with claims players were ‘continuously vomiting’ due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital.”

Airborne pollution levels 15 times the World Health Organization limits were recorded on the second day of the match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Sunday. Per Safi, “as the haze worsened, many Sri Lankan players returned from lunch wearing face masks before complaining to umpires, who halted play for 20 minutes to consult with team doctors and match officials.”

Announcers said it was the first recorded instance of an international cricket match being halted due to the toxic smog that reaches hazardous levels in northern India during the winter months.

The match resumed but was interrupted twice more as Sri Lankan players Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal left the field with breathing difficulties.

“We had players coming off the field and vomiting,” Sri Lanka coach Nick Pothas told reporters. “There were oxygen cylinders in the [locker] room. It’s not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game…I think it’s the first time that everybody has come across [the vomiting] situation.”

 

A paramedic speaks to Sri Lanka’s Lahiru Gamage after he complained of shortness of breath.
A paramedic speaks to Sri Lanka’s Lahiru Gamage after he complained of shortness of breath (Photo credit: Altaf Qadri/AP)

 

CK Khanna, acting president of India’s cricket board, said the Sri Lankans were making much ado about nothing: “If 20,000 people in the stands did not have problems and the Indian team did not face any issue, I wonder why the Sri Lankan team made a big fuss?” The crowd agreed, showering boos upon Sri Lanka’s batsmen.

 

Sri Lanka’s captain Dinesh Chandimal fields in a mask.
 Sri Lanka’s captain Dinesh Chandimal fields in a mask (Photo credit: Altaf Qadri/AP)

 

The effects of the city’s polluted air were not limited to cricket: Schools were shut and doctors declared a public health emergency in Delhi last month as pollution levels spiked to an unimaginable 40 times the WHO safe limits, which is equivalent to smoking at least 50 cigarettes per day.

Delhi officials have been accused of not preparing for what has become an annual crisis each winter, while the Indian government has downplayed the urgency and health risks associated with the problem.

The city’s extremely poor air quality is the result of a combination of road dust, open fires, vehicle exhaust fumes, industrial emissions and the burning of crop residues in neighbouring states. Indian weather agencies also blame dust storms that originate in the Persian Gulf to the country’s west.

 

# Test cricket is the longest form of of the sport and is considered its highest level. Test matches can last as long as five days.

 


 

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Lonely Whale Foundation and Adrian Grenier Partner with Mariners, Sounders and Seahawks on “Strawless in Seattle” September

The Lonely Whale Foundation, co-founded by Adrian Grenier of HBO’s Entourage fame, is working with Seattle’s pro sports teams (Major League Baseball’s Mariners, the NFL’s Seahawks and the Sounders of Major League Soccer) to get fans to keep plastic out of the oceans by dramatically reducing their plastic straw usage. 

 

ADRIAN GRENIER PITCHES STRAWLESS IN SEATTLE PROGRAM

When Adrian Grenier took the mound at Seattle’s Safeco Field on September 1st, he wasn’t an out-of-left-field starting pitching choice for the American League wild card contending Mariners. No, the star of HBO’s Entourage threw out the first pitch for a different team — The Lonely Whale Foundation, the nonprofit he co-founded in 2015 with film producer Lucy Sumner — to help kickoff (sorry for the mixed sports metaphor there) Strawless in Seattle September, a new phase of their “#StopSucking” campaign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

StrawlessInSeattle-FullLogo_ (002)

 

“We are living during a critical turning point for our ocean, and that’s why I’m excited to celebrate the city of Seattle as a true ocean health leader,” said Grenier. “Alongside Lonely Whale Foundation, Seattle’s citywide commitment demonstrates our collective strength to create measurable impact and address the global ocean plastic pollution crisis. We are starting in Seattle with the plastic straw and see no limits if we combine forces to solve this global issue.”

CenturyLink Field is taking the Strawless in Seattle September baton from Safeco Field and the Mariners. The home of Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders and the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL has already switched to 100 percent paper straws — and they are only given out by request. During all September home games, those straws, made by Aardvark Straws, display the Strawless Ocean brand. The Sounders gave out those straws at their game vs. the LA Galaxy this past Sunday and will do so again when the Vancouver Whitecaps come to town on the 27th. The NFL’s Seahawks will go with the Strawless Ocean branding at their lone September home game — this Sunday’s home opener vs. the San Francisco 49ers. From the beginning of October through the end of the 2017 season and beyond, all straws at Seahawks home games, also made by Aardvark, will display the team’s logo.

 

Ocean + Strawless Straws

“Strawless Ocean”-branded paper straws are being given out all September long at Seattle Seahawks and Sounders home games at CenturyLink Field as well as at all Mariners September home contests at Safeco Field (Photo credit: Aardvark Straws)

 

Strawless in Seattle represents Phase III of Lonely Whale’s #StopSucking campaign. The idea, according to Dune Ives, the nonprofit’s executive director, “is to focus on one city, Seattle, where there already is a strong ‘healthy living’ ethos, to drive a comprehensive, monthlong campaign.” Sports is a key venue for the campaign; entertainment,  bars, and restaurants are three others.

 

Dune Ives_Executive director of Lonely Whale Foundation

Dune Ives, executive director of Lonely Whale Foundation (Photo credit: Lonely Whale Foundation)

 

Adrian Grenier challenged Russell Wilson, the Seahawks Pro Bowl quarterback, to get involved with Strawless in Seattle and #StopSucking. Wilson accepted and then challenged Seahawks fans (aka “the 12s” — for “12th man”) to do the same.

 

 

This builds upon a fun, #StopSucking-themed, celebrity-laden public service announcement (PSA) campaign, also from Lonely Whale Foundation. And ‘Hawks fans will also get into the “talk the strawless talk” act when they visit the #StopSucking photo booth at CenturyLink. I am sure there will be some, shall we say, colorful fan entries, depending on how the games are going.

 

#StopSucking PSA from the Lonely Whale Foundation is running as part of Strawless in Seattle campaign.

 

Phase I of the campaign focused on spreading the #StopSucking videos virally. “Sucker Punch,” an earlier humorous video under the #StopSucking umbrella, premiered at February’s South By Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, TX. “The ‘super slow motion’ visuals of celebrities from Neil DeGrasse Tyson to Sports Illustrated swimsuit models having their straws slapped out of their mouths by the tail of an ocean creature got a great response at South By Southwest and beyond,” said Ms. Ives.

 

The 1-minute long “Sucker Punch” video from The Lonely Whale Foundation, which premiered at SXSW this February.

 

The #StopSucking social media campaign, which constitutes Phase II, is, per Ms. Ives, “going gangbusters.”

It will take much more than the powerful, multi-phase #StopSucking campaign to make a significant dent in the massive, global plastic ocean waste problem. How significant? Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day.

You read that right: we use 500 million plastic straws every day. Right now there are “only” 327 million American humans.

Many of these plastic straws end up in the oceans, polluting the water and harming sea life. If we continue on our current path, plastics in the oceans, of which straws are a small but significant part, will outweigh all fish by 2050.

This is why there are many straw reduction, strawless, and switch-from-plastic-straw efforts. GreenSportsBlog featured one earlier this year, the powerful OneLessStraw campaign from the high school students/sister and brother tandem, Olivia and Carter Ries, co-founders of nonprofit OneMoreGeneration (OMG!)

Ms. Ives welcomes the company: “We have 50 NGO partners globally, all of whom do great, important work. We believe Lonely Whale fills in a key missing element: A powerful umbrella platform, which includes the right social media engagement tools, the right venues and the right celebrities to catalyze and grow the movement.”

As noted earlier, restaurants and bars are key venues for #StopSucking, but sports will always have a primary role. “It is inspiring to see our stadiums and teams taking a leadership position with the Strawless Ocean challenge,” enthused Ms. Ives. “Very few outlets exist that reach and influence so many individuals at one time and through their commitment, our teams are taking steps to significantly reduce their use of single-use plastics by starting first with the straw.”

And Seattle-based teams and athletes are not the only sports figures to join in. Grenier challenged Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson to join the campaign in August and Karlsson accepted. Maybe Lonely Whale should look north of the border for their next campaign.

After all, “Strawless with the (Ottawa) Sens” has a nice ring to it.

 


 

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The GSB Interview: David Doll, OSIsoft; the Internet Of Things meets Green-Sports

Smart Grid. Smart Agriculture. Smart Stadiums? The Internet of Things (IOT) is making virtually every process, every structure, every thing much smarter, much faster. Why would that be different in the sports world. Fact is, technology is allowing stadiums and arenas to measure their energy use, water use and waste in real time. This has made it possible for venue operators and team owners to be much more efficient, saving money and carbon emissions in the process. GreenSportsBlog talked with David Doll, Industry Principal, Facilities and Energy Management at OSIsoft, one of the leaders at the intersection of Green, Sports and the IOT, about where this exciting world is going.

 

GSB: David, right off the bat, for the tech-luddites among us, can you define Internet of Things or IOT?

David Doll: Great question, Lew—there are a lot of definitions out there. I’ll go with this: The Internet of Things is putting a digital presence, a sensor where it didn’t exist before to feed data to other machines, to get them and humans to react.

GSB: Makes sense to me. Readers, you got it? Good. OK, I’m really glad to talk with you as the topic of smart stadiums and arenas is something I’ve wanted to delve into for quite awhile. How did you get into this business? Are you from the tech side?

DD: Yes. After doing my undergrad at University of Richmond and my MBA at Villanova…

GSB: Congratulations on your national championship last year, and on a great regular season this season.

DD: Thank you, although I didn’t have anything to with it, I’m still willing to take credit! Anyway, I worked for 16 years as a software developer, manager, and IT consultant for software and consulting firms. Eventually, the company I was with was acquired by OSIsoft, and I’ve been with them for the last eight years.

DavidDoll

David Doll, Industry Principal, Facilities and Energy Management at OSIsoft (Photo credit: OSIsoft)

 

GSB: What does OSIsoft do, exactly?

DD: We’re a privately held company that’s been around for more than 30 years. OSIsoft connects data with people in ways that allows them to turn that information into valuable insights. Our focus has been in heavy industry and the built environment worlds to help get value out of data, which was kind of an industrial-specific arena for decades. But with sensors getting smaller, more powerful and much cheaper, data and metrics have exploded everywhere.

GSB: That must mean it’s much more competitive.

DD: MUCH more so! Smart grid, smart apartment buildings, smart airports, smart university campuses, smart data centers, and smart stadiums are sexy these days. There’s data where there wasn’t before, from heating and air conditioning (HVAC) to occupancy. And so the big guys like Cisco and Oracle and Dell and you name it are involved. The competition has stepped up, but OSIsoft’s industrial heritage puts us in a strong position, as does our long experience in the environmental space, meaning using sensors to measure energy, water and carbon. For us, it’s a win-win intersection of “planet and profit”.

GSB: Love that kind of “win-win”. I have to believe a rapidly greening sports industry is adapting IOT and thus would be a market for OSIsoft. Is that the case and, if so, how big is sports in your overall portfolio?

DD: Sports is a small portion of OSIsoft’s overall business, but it is growing and it is very high profile, which certainly helps us overall. I’ll give you a great case study with Major League Baseball and their Green Tracks program. This goes back to 2011 or 2012. We were introduced to Scott Jenkins, who, at the time, ran Safeco Field on behalf of the Seattle Mariners…

GSB: …Now the General Manager of the soon-to-open Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, future home of the Falcons and Atlanta United F.C. Scott, a GSB fave, is also the Chairman of the Board of the Green Sports Alliance

DD: Yes, THAT Scott Jenkins. So, at that time MLB had a program called Green Tracks, which asked stadium employees to manually enter their water, energy, and gas usage as well as their recycling data.

GSB: MANUALLY ENTER? Are you kidding? That’s so a decade ago!

DD: So true! And it had its struggles, so the data weren’t that accurate or detailed. We showed Scott and other folks at MLB our PI System

GSB: What does PI stand for, other than 3.14159…

DD: It’s not THAT PI. Rather it stands for something pretty simple, Plant Information. But the PI System is actually ubiquitous. In fact the PI System brand name is, in some cases, better known than OSIsoft. The PI System was installed at Safeco Field, and it immediately provided visibility and real time data for Mariners’ executives about the operations of the ballpark. Which is important when you consider that teams have much less knowledge about the business of their stadiums, about how their stadiums perform, than they do about how their players perform.

GSB: So it was like the Mariners’ move from the manual Green Tracks to the PI System was the ballpark operations version of moving from old time player metrics (batting average, ERA, etc.) to advanced sabermetrics^ (OPS, Wins Above Replacement, etc.), right?

DD: Exactly! Now team management can see the energy footprint of the game, day vs. night, April vs. August, and then tweak things to improve it. And there were lots of ways the Mariners—or any other club, for that matter—could improve upon stadium energy, water and carbon footprint performance without messing with the game day experience of the players and fans.

GSB: Give me a for instance of how the PI System could help Safeco Field run more efficiently and lower its carbon footprint.

DD: First off, when the club is on the road, they can use the PI System to make sure things like the TV monitors and pizza ovens are turned off, that the AC is off except in occupied offices.

GSB: That seems like low hanging fruit. What about minimizing things during a game?

DD: It’s a bit more subtle, but the same principle applies. When do you turn on the AC to get maximum effect and comfort but minimize waste? PI technology can show that. Same thing with lights, ovens and the rest. It enables them to constantly tweak performance. Energy usage in a place like Seattle should be a lot different at an April game vs. one in the summer.

GSB: How much did the Mariners save?

DD: They reported about $1.5 million over four years.

GSB: That’s significant for sure. How much did they save on a carbon footprint basis?

DD: We don’t have that data, but if the energy savings are significant so too must the carbon footprint savings. The Mariners were very happy, and so our next step was to sign an enterprise agreement in 2013 with MLB as part of Green Tracks 2.0 which gave the 29 other clubs the right to install the PI System at their facilities.

GSB: How did that work?

DD: The league purchases the software, so the clubs can use the PI System for free. The only additional fees are for maintenance and consulting, if a club wants that. So far about a dozen teams are using it.

GSB: Such a deal for the clubs! Why wouldn’t all of them use PI technology if it’s free? Is it an exclusive deal or can clubs choose to use one of OSIsoft’s competitors?

DD: Nope, clubs are free to use other products, but they’d have to pay to go that route. And one or two have done so…

GSB: …Hmmm. There must be some political reasons for doing so…A club is using, I’m making it up, Oracle for their digital networks and so they get a break on IOT.

DD: Something like that. We don’t have visibility as to what all of the clubs are doing. But we are happy the Mariners, the San Diego Padres and Petco Park, which hosted the 2016 All Star Game, and a host of other teams have chosen to integrate the PI System into their operations.

 

PI System Data in real time

The OSIsoft PI system tracks water, electricity and natural gas use at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. (Photo credit: San Diego Padres)

 

GSB: That’s good to hear. I imagine that the employees prefer PI to manually entering data…

DD: No doubt about it—the employees LOVE IT! It allows them to be environmental and operational heroes by helping to solve problems before they happen.

 

Petco Water System2

A Petco Park employee wires the stadium’s water system for monitoring by OSIsoft. (Photo credit: San Diego Padres)

 

GSB: That’s great. Now, let’s look beyond baseball. Talk about OSIsoft’s involvement with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

DD: We’re working with the Wild and Xcel Energy Center, which includes the hockey arena, an auditorium, and a Convention Center. The PI System gives the owners visibility on energy, water and carbon across all of the facilities. As with baseball, the operators of the buildings didn’t know much about the energy they were using or why. Now that they know, they can negotiate better contracts for concerts and other events. A Monster Truck contest looks a lot different than a Lady Gaga concert; now they know. We also see a big opportunity with minor league and community rinks.

GSB: I’m sure you’re aware of the NHL’s Greener Rinks program, in which the league is becoming a sustainability resource for community rinks. Are you working with MLS, the NBA or NFL?

DD: Not yet with those leagues nor their clubs. One big and perhaps surprising hurdle is the lack of technology in many stadiums and arenas, even the “modern” ones.

GSB: Really? I gotta believe that Mercedes-Benz Stadium or the new US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (home of the Vikings) or Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara (49ers) are super high tech.

DD: I assume you’re right on US Bank Stadium and I know you are on the other two. But think about newer ballparks like Camden Yards in Baltimore. It’s considered of the modern era, even though it is now 25 years old. There was not a lot of smart technology put into many of these buildings, and that’s where new IOT technologies become critical. And the sports world is changing. I don’t think it’s a stretch to envision that, within 3-5 years, OSIsoft will have brought our technology to the other leagues.

GSB: Oh I would be shocked if it took that long. One last question: Does OSIsoft have any fan engagement programs? OSIsoft is, as far as I know, a B-to-B company, not business-to-consumer.

DD: You’re right, we’re B-to-B. Environmentally-focused fan awareness programs need to be the team’s responsibility, but we will keep innovating behind the scenes.

 

^ Sabermetrics = the application of advanced statistical analysis to baseball records, especially in order to evaluate and compare the performance of individual players.

 


 

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