GSB Eco-Scorecard #4: Catching Up with Green-Sports Leaders on the Field

Since 2013, GreenSportsBlog has featured the teams and athletes leading the sports-greening movement. What we haven’t focused on is their work on the field, in the arena, on the track.

So in September, we launched GSB Eco-Scoreboard: Catching Up with Green-Sports Leaders on the Field, an occasional series highlighting recent on-field/court results of the greenest teams and athletes. Why? Because if they do well, their green messages will gain a wider audience.

But what if the eco-athletes struggle?

Hey, I’m a Jets, Knicks and Rutgers sports fan. I — and a gazillion other sports fans — certainly can relate to struggle. And those engaged in the climate change fight know it is a multi-generational slog. 

So the theme of today’s fourth Eco-Scoreboard entry is struggle and overcoming obstacles.

 

STEPHEN PISCOTTY STARTS ANEW WITH OAKLAND A’S, FIGHTS ALS ON BEHALF OF MOM

GreenSportsBlog first wrote about Piscotty last January after we learned that the then-Cardinals outfielder had majored in Atmosphere and Energy Engineering at Stanford and is keenly interested in the investment and climate change fighting possibilities in inherent in renewable energy. That Piscotty was coming off of a stellar rookie campaign in 2016 made the story all the better.

But 2017 proved to be challenging on and off the field.

On the field, Piscotty dealt with two stints on the disabled list with hamstring and groin injuries along with a sophomore slump at the plate. The double whammy led to a brief demotion to Triple-A Memphis in August.

The off field news was much, much worse as Piscotty’s mother, Gretchen, was diagnosed with ALS^ or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

In our most recent Eco-Scorecard in January, we shared the news that Piscotty had been traded by the Cardinals to the Oakland A’s, only an hour’s drive from his parents’ home. Both the Cardinals and the A’s acknowledged that Gretchen’s illness was a factor in the trade. Amazing, no?

“It says a lot about both organizations,” Piscotty said in a February 23rd interview with Martin Gallegos of The San Jose Mercury News. “Baseball is very important, but sometimes there are other things that may take priority. It’s heartwarming and humbling, and we are so grateful.”

Piscotty is projected to be the A’s starting right fielder in 2018. After a very slow start at the plate in spring training, he rebounded over the past ten days, getting his batting average up to a respectable .269 with 2 home runs. If Piscotty can stay healthy, it says here that he will provide stability and punch to the Oakland lineup, with results resembling his breakout 22 HR, 85 RBI rookie 2016 campaign rather than his difficult 2017 (9 HR, 37 RBI).

Meanwhile, the 27 year-old has decided to set up a donation page along with his family to raise funds for ALS research.

“My mom was on board with it and we felt like getting something started would be a really cool thing,” Piscotty told Gallegos. “It actually came about by one of my mom’s really good friends, who has actually been helping us a tremendous amount at the house. She is going to run a couple races and dedicate those to my mom, so we are just rallying around that to raise funding and awareness and also kind of use my platform to attack it in that sort of way. I’m pretty excited about the support we have gotten already, and we’ll keep going.”

 

 

Piscotty A's

Stephen Piscotty in his new Oakland A’s uniform (Photo credit: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

 

 

More Piscotty: “It’s one of those things that is hard to talk about, but awareness is step one and then the funding. People have to know about it before they are going to donate, and what have you. I think that is the biggest thing. The ice bucket challenge that happened a few years ago was a tremendous thing, and I think there is a jalapeno challenge that is starting to circle around, and hopefully that catches fire too. Things like that day by day and little by little will eventually get us there.”

People looking to contribute to the fund can do so by visiting www.youcaring.com/alstherapydevelopmentinstitute-1101042#mlb-oakland.

 

POW MEMBER AND U.S. CROSS COUNTRY SKIER ANDY NEWELL HOPES PYEONGCHANG 2018 IS HIS LAST OLYMPICS

Cross country skier Andy Newell is a leading member of Protect Our Winters (POW), the group of elite winter sports athletes who advocate for climate action. In the run up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Newell co-drafted a letter with fellow Vermonter and climate change fighter Bill McKibben — and founder of 350.org — addressed to world leaders, urging them to sign the Paris Climate Agreement. He helped lead POW’s participation in the People’s Climate March in New York City last April and has lobbied members of Congress of both parties on climate-related legislation.

Qualifying for his fourth Olympics at age 34, Newell took on the high-pressured first leg of the 4×10 km relay. After a decent start — he reached the initial 1.67 km split in 8th place in the 14-team race — Newell struggled, ending up in 12th place with a time of 26 minutes 09.7 seconds, 1.28.8 off the lead. Team USA’s difficulties continued from there as they finished in last, 9 minutes 24 seconds behind the gold medal winners from Norway.

“As expected, it was tough,” Newell told USA Today Network’s Jeff Seidel. “It’s always nerve-wracking to go out first. It’s an honor to lead off the team, but it’s also a high-pressure situation. I went out and did my best. I was dying. I actually barfed my face off at the end of the race. That’s how I know I pushed myself pretty hard.”

 

Andy Newell

Andy Newell (r) and Canada’s Len Valjas scrambling during the first leg 4×10 km cross country ski race at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics (Photo credit: Flying Point Road)

 

Newell hopes PyeongChang is his final Olympics, despite sounding like he wants to give qualifying for Beijing 2022 a go.

Wait, what? He wants to try out for another Olympics and…fail?

Well, when one considers Newell’s team-first, legacy-based ethos, his willingness to see the next generation of U.S cross country skiers beat him out four years from now starts to make some sense.

“The only thing that would make me happier than going to a…fifth Olympics would be that the U.S. team is so strong that a guy like me can’t make it,” said Newell to Seidel.“Hopefully those guys will be crushing it and they will be coming in as medal contenders…I hope that an old guy like me won’t even be able to make the team four years from now.”

 

FOREST GREEN ROVERS STRUGGLING TO AVOID RELEGATION

GreenSportsBlog readers know Forest Green Rovers (FGR) as the Greenest Team in Sports — from its solar powered “Mow-Bots” used to manicure the organic pitch at The New Lawn stadium to all vegan-only concession stands.

FGR took a major step up on the pitch in 2017, earning promotion from the fifth to the fourth tier of English football — the highest rung achieved in the club’s 125-year history. The trick for FGR this season is to stay in the fourth tier and avoid relegation down from whence they came. Their task is clear: finish above the bottom two places in the 24-team league when the campaign ends in May.

Newly-promoted sides often struggle to stay “up” and FGR is no different as they’ve flirted with the “drop zone” all season. But an undefeated February (three wins and a draw) gave the club some breathing room.

Their run of good play continued as the calendar turned to March when super-sub Lee Collins scored in the 81st minute to earn a back-and-forth 3-3 draw at Newport County.

 

Lee Colins

Forest Green Rovers’ Lee Collins (#5) exults after scoring the 81st minute equalizer in their 3-3 draw at Newport County on March 3rd (Photo credit: Forest Green Rovers)

 

The 81st minute came back to bite FGR at home on Saturday as it was Notts County who scored during that 60 second window to earn a 2-1 win, ending Forest Green’s six match unbeaten streak. Still, the club sits in 20th place with 37 points, seven points ahead of the drop zone with 10 matches to play.

But safety is not yet assured as the season moves to its May conclusion and the struggle continues for FGR with two road contests in four days.

First, Forest Green visits first place Accrington Stanley on Saturday. Then its a mid-week battle among two clubs eager to stay afloat when FGR heads to 19th place Crewe Alexander.

 


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Stanford University: Leading the Way on Green-Sports

You don’t need GreenSportsBlog to tell you that Stanford University is one of the most highly rated academic institutions in the world. You may well be aware that the Cardinal own 128 national championships across all sports, making it one of the most successful collegiate athletics programs in the US. But you may not know that the Stanford was an early Green-Sports adopter and has become one of the leading lights of the college sports greening movement.

 

 

GREENING STANFORD ATHLETICS

I never understood why Stanford’s mascot is a tree that runs around football fields and other sports venues. They’re known as the Stanford Cardinal, not the Stanford Oaks, after all.

But, after talking with Stanford sustainability and athletics department leaders, the tree; symbol of life, absorber of CO2, makes perfect sense for the Palo Alto, CA university. You see, while the school’s colors are cardinal red and white, the athletics department is a leader at the intersection of Green & Sports.

Moira Hafer, Sustainability Specialist in the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management, has had a front row seat for the greening of Stanford sports, as well for the greening of the rest of the university for the better part of a decade. A Stanford grad with an Environmental Science major, Ms. Hafer returned to the sustainability department on “The Farm” after a stint at an energy efficiency-focused nonprofit. She sits in the Office of Sustainability, whose main role is to steer the university’s vision on sustainability. Moira helps it do so in two ways: by 1. Raising awareness among all stakeholders on campus about sustainability, and 2. Managing campus-wide sustainability programs—for example, making office buildings more efficient.

Stanford LBRE 340 Bonair Siding

Moira Hafer, Sustainability Specialist in the Department of Sustainability and Energy Management at Stanford University (Photo credit: Stanford University)

 

The Office of Sustainability initiated its partnership with Athletics in 2012, although the latter had undertaken some initiatives on its own as far back as 2009. “The joint effort made sense on a lot of levels,” offered Ms. Hafer, “Stanford had become a member of the Green Sports Alliance in 2012, as had the entire PAC-12. Sports is obviously very high profile and the Athletics Department has a significant facilities and carbon footprint.”

According to Jamie Breslin, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Facilities, Operations and Events, “We’ve seen a tremendous acceleration in terms of greening initiatives since I got here four years ago.” Examples include:

  • A 636 kW rooftop solar panel array went live this March at Maples Pavilion, home to Stanford men’s and women’s basketball. This is on top of the university’s new 72 mW solar farm in Southern California that is now providing more than 50 percent of the university’s electricity needs, including athletics’.

Stanford Solar Farm Linda Cicero

A close up view of the Stanford solar farm in Southern California (Photo credit Linda Cicero)

 

  • In addition to Maples, five athletics facilities were retrofitted since 2015 for energy efficiency, including Stanford Stadium (home of Stanford football) and Avery Aquatics Center.
  • Some Athletics servers were moved from the Arrillaga Family Sports Center to the university’s central data center, resulting in significant electricity and chilled water savings.
  • All new facilities construction on campus, including athletics buildings, is done to LEED Gold standards even though the university is not pursuing LEED certification.
  • LED lighting systems have recently been installed at Maples, Avery Aquatics Center and the new recreation center. LED floodlights now illuminate Sunken Diamond, home to Stanford baseball.
  • A state-of-the art HVAC system that heats and cools the rec center is a constant source of amazement for athletes and other visitors.

 

The epochal four year California drought not surprisingly moved water usage efficiency up the Sustainability-Athletics partnership priorities list. “The Stanford Water Efficiency Group looked across all facets of the university for significant water savings,” said Ms. Hafer, “Athletics looked to reduce water usage by 30 percent starting in April, 2014. It got there by November, 2014. The water usage reduction now stands at 37 percent.”

Golf helped lead the way to water efficiency, with course superintendents reducing irrigated acres on the Stanford course by 20 percent through the use of new, weather-based irrigation techniques and the latest high-efficiency sprinklers. “Overall water usage at the golf facility has been lowered by 25 percent,” reported Mr. Breslin.

 

GETTING FANS INTO THE GREENING GAME

In a February, 2016 interview with Kathleen J. Sullivan of Stanford News, Bernard Muir, the Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics at the university, demonstrated that he “gets it” when “it” means fan engagement: “Every time we host an event, whether it is a practice, a contest, a clinic or a camp, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our department’s commitment to sustainability. Last year, we hosted nearly 500 events on campus. We have an audience of millions.”

A good chunk of that audience tailgates at home football games. Emily McLaughlin, Director of Marketing at Stanford Athletics, shared that “We support Green Tailgating to our fans by encouraging tailgaters to use compostable cups and flatware or rent trash, recycling and compostable bins, and promoting alternative forms of green transit and in greater numbers. We mainly do this though our email and website communication. Anyone who purchases or reserves a tailgate space online or over the phone receives an email confirmation, which includes resources for greening tailgates. We also send a Gameday email to all ticket buyers promoting  alternative transportation and before the Game Day Challenge game, we had a section dedicated solely to sustainability, encouraging fans to compost and recycle, among other things.”

Ms.Hafer added, “Waste reduction is our biggest fan sustainability touch-point because fans generate tons of waste. So we had to ramp up our waste diversion infrastructure, increasing the number of recycling bins, and adding composting and compostable service-ware to the mix. Many of our fans have bought in.”

Men’s and women’s basketball got into the act in February with the Game Day Basketball Challenge sponsored by RecycleMania. Pac-12 schools competed on recycling and waste minimization efforts. At one designated men’s and one women’s contest, Stanford student volunteers educated fans at all of the waste stations about how to properly sort waste into recycling and compost bins. They also collected in-person pledges to support ReycleMania’s mission.

Stanford game day volunteers Sophie Cristel

Stanford University student volunteers outside a basketball game (Photo credit: Sophie Christel)

 

During halftime, Stanford showed its 2015 parody video, “All About No Waste,” a student parody of the hit song “All About That Bass,” that showed Stanford students how to recycle and compost.

“All About No Waste” parody video (3:12)

 

STANFORD ATHLETES ARE ALL IN FOR GREEN

Athletes have embraced the Greening of Stanford Sports with gusto, with a student-athlete group called Stanford Carbon Offsets to Reduce Emissions or SCORE, launching in 2015. The group conducted research to determine the carbon emissions generated by Stanford varsity student-athlete travel and then won a grant to help fund the offsetting of said emissions. A Sustainability in Athletics internship program was launched to drum up further support for Green-Sports initiatives among athletes.

Mr. Breslin said, with some amazement in his voice, that “Our 900 or so student-athletes are very energetic about sustainability. They often come up to me to talk about how we can do better in terms of our flight offsets, about recycling. A group of them pressed for and got a meeting with Director of Athletics Muir to discuss how we can do better.”

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

Recycling and composting is one thing (actually, two); linking greening actions by fans to climate change is another. “The good news is climate change mitigation is a major focus university-wide and if we can get even more buy-in from Athletics fans and other stakeholders, it will really help keep the momentum going” said Ms. Hafer.

Solar provider SunPower and Energy Upgrade California are already sponsors of Stanford Athletics but, there’s great room for growth of green sports sponsorships. According to Adam Requarth, Stanford’s Assistant Athletic Director, Corporate Sponsorships, “the Athletics Department sees the Greening of Stanford Sports as a way to attract new, sustainability-focused, corporate sponsors.”

The one thing that, to my eyes, is missing from the aggressive, comprehensive approach to Stanford’s Athletics-Sustainability team has taken regarding Green-Sports, is the relative lack of targets, especially in terms carbon emissions reductions. What gets measured gets managed and what gets managed matters. The Sustainability-Athletics team certainly get this so I would expect a healthy sustainability measurement increase sooner rather than later.

 


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GSB News and Notes: PAC-12 Zero Waste Bowl Winners; Men’s and Women’s Final Fours Played on Sustainably Harvested Hardwood Floors; World Flying Disc Federation Names Its First Sustainability Director

 

The PAC-12 conference, in partnership with the Green Sports Alliance, announces the winners of its fall 2016 Zero-Waste Bowl competitions. The Men’s and Women’s Final Fours were contested on sustainably harvested hardwood courts. And Flying Disc sports (i.e. Ultimate Frisbee) makes its first GSB appearance as the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) hires its first sustainability director.

 

PAC-12 ZERO WASTE BOWL WINNERS

On Wednesday, the Pac-12, in partnership with the Green Sports Alliance, announced the winners of its third annual Zero Waste Bowl. The Pac 12 already has a strong relationship with the GSA: All 12 schools^ participated as members in 2016 and are doing so again this year.

The Pac-12 Zero Waste Bowl aimed to determine which school could divert the most waste from the landfill at a selected football (or other men’s or women’s) home game during the Fall 2016 sports season, as well as which one used the most innovative methods to expand the reach and impact of the competition. It provides a friendly and spirited platform for the schools’ athletics departments and other groups to engage on best practices in athletics waste diversion and to learn how each campus strives toward zero waste goals.

In addition to the overall waste diversion rate, the universities were scored on innovation, partnership and participation, as well as fan engagement. A panel of four independent judges determined the results.

Fall 2016 Pac-12 Zero Waste Bowl Challenge Final Results:

la-coliseum-usc-neil-leifer

The Los Angeles Coliseum is now Zero Waste for USC football (Photo credit: Neil Leifer)

 

Finally, the judges awarded three Pac-12 universities with special awards for Most Improved (USC), Fan Engagement (Stanford), and Athlete/Player Engagement (Oregon State).

Stanford’s Cardinal Green fan-centric program, part of a nationwide Gameday Challenge to see which participating school could reduce waste the most, won points for its comprehensiveness. It reached out to a multitude of stakeholders to encourage recycling and composting at one football game, one men’s basketball game and one women’s basketball game. Students, season-ticket holders, single-game ticket holders, employees, gameday staff, volunteers and more were engaged. The communications effort was clever and deep, both in the tailgate area and especially in the stadium and arena:

  • The Stanford marching band made sustainability and Zero-Waste a theme of one of their vignettes during halftime of the football game.
  • A Stanford-produced video (“All About No Waste at Stanford”, a musical parody based on Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass”) was played during halftime.

  • The Public Address Announcer discussed Game Day Challenge information twice towards beginning of game, encouraging fans to properly sort their waste.

  • Sustainability facts were displayed on the main scoreboard about once per quarter.

  • Compostable bags and half-page flyers showing what to compost and where compost bins are located were distributed to tailgaters.

 

“All About No Waste” video (3:12) was shown at halftime of the 2016 Gameday Challenge football game at Stanford Stadium.

 

Oregon State won the Athlete/Player Engagement honors thanks to its Beaver Athlete Sustainability Team (BAST), a group led by swimmer Jesikah Cavanaugh and Sam Lewis of women’s cross country. BAST, which also draws its members from football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s rowing and women’s track, came together because they had a passion for sustainability, the climate change fight and saw areas of waste in their community and athletic department. They started with small ideas which evolved into an organized group focused on engagement, education and service to the environment. Three key action areas for the 2016-2017 academic year include:

  • Reduce Food Waste in Valley Performance Center (where the players eat their meals): Introduced composting and increased recycling.

  • Create Awareness Around Sustainability and to Build Bridges Between Campus and the Community Launched the #BeavsRecycle Campaign with Oregon State Campus Recycling to create an awareness of recycling throughout campus as well as the student-athletes’ commitment to the environment

  • Foster a More Sustainable Experience at Sporting Event: Collect unused or disposed of giveaway items at football and basketball games for recycling. Educate fans about recycling at baseball games.

According to Ms. Cavanaugh, the BAST program is a natural outgrowth of the already deeply embedded sustainable/green culture at Oregon State: “Many of my teammates have become passionate about being sure to sort their waste because of the culture here at OSU.”

 

Oregon State University student-athletes share why they’ve joined the Beaver Athlete Sustainability Team or BAST in this video (1:43)

 

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S FINAL FOURS PLAYED ON SUSTAINABLY HARVESTED WOOD FLOORS

While South Carolina and North Carolina are deservedly being hailed for winning the  2017 NCAA Women’s and Men’s National Championships, respectively, the courts they won on merit kudos as well.

You see, the hardwood floors at American Airlines Center in Dallas, site of the Women’s Final Four, and University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, host of the Men’s Final Four, were made from wood sustainably harvested from The Nature Conservancy’s Two Hearted River Forest Reserve in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Connor Sports, the Official Court Provider of the NCAA, single-sourced all the timber from Sugar Maple trees in the TNC’s Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified forest in the Upper Peninsula.   

“Our goal at Connor Sports is to provide our NCAA customer with the best possible court products using responsible forestry practices,” said Jason Gasperich, Director of Sustainability for Connor Sports. “This unique method…mark[s] the first-time Connor Sports has single-sourced all the timber for a customer project from one forest, and Sugar Maple trees are the industry’s most prized species known for their durability, strength and light coloring.”

The Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve spans approximately 24,000 acres. Sustainable forestry practices include ecological thinning, selectively cutting trees to improve the health of the forest that are also economically viable. Thirty-five acres of the Reserve were sustainably harvested to create this year’s championship floors.

 

JOHANNA VON TOGGENBURG NAMED SUSTAINABILITY DIRECTOR OF WORLD FLYING DISC FEDERATION (WFDF)

GreenSportsBlog has never reported on the world of Ultimate Frisbee and other flying disk sports. Until today, that is.

That is because Johanna Von Toggenburg, who has played and coached ultimate frisbee, and currently works for the United Nations on the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, has been named the first Sustainability Director of the World Flying Disk Federation (WFDF).

Johanna Von Toggenberg

Johanna Von Toggenburg, new Sustainability Director for the World Flying Disk Federation. (Photo credit: SwitchMed)

She played Ultimate in Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and the United States, competed at the European Ultimate Championships in 2007 in England, and also helped found the Lebanon Flying Disc Association when she moved to that country in 2015.

“My vision for this role is to develop transparent assessment mechanisms with practical recommendations to ensure activities carried out by WFDF and its members are done in a sustainable manner,” said Von Toggenburg, “I am excited about combining my profession and passion in order to mainstream sustainable practices into all aspects of flying disc sports worldwide.”

WFDF President Robert Rauch welcomed Von Toggenburg into the role and says she will hit the ground running to improve the environmental performance andgovernance and of the organization.

“The appointment of Johanna von Toggenburg as our first ever sustainability marks another important step in fulfilling our commitment to the environment and to stage sustainable world events and make sure that WFDF operates under best of class governance procedures,” he said.

“We will now be better equipped to apply our sustainability evaluation tools like the Sustainable Sport Event Toolkit provided by our partner AISTS and ensure that sustainability issues are considered when reviewing applications for our development grant projects.”

^ Pac-12 schools: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal-Berkeley, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State

 


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