The GSB Interview: Claire Poole, Climate Action, Reviews Sustainable Innovation In Sport Conference 2017

The second Sustainable Innovation in Sports (SIIS) conference, organized by Climate Action, took place in Munich last month. GreenSportsBlog spoke with Climate Action’s Event Director Claire Poole to get her take. 

 

The second Sustainable Innovation in Sport (SIIS) conference took place in Munich over two days in late February. To find out about the highlights, the key learnings, and to get a sense of next steps, GSB spoke with Claire Poole, SIIS’ Event Director on behalf of Climate Action and the Principal of ClearBright Consulting.

GreenSportsBlog: Claire, following up on the first SIIS in Paris in 2015, what were your two or three biggest takeaways from SIIS 2017?

Claire Poole SIIS

Claire Poole, speaking at last month’s Sustainable Innovation in Sport conference in Munich. (Photo credit: SIIS)

 

Claire Poole: The big thematic takeaways were definitely the need for education, partnerships and technology in the Green-Sports space. There were some amazing insights from speakers that I’d like to highlight as well. Dr. Willem Huisman, President of Dow Germany opened the conference. He made this very powerful point: what binds together sustainability, innovation and sport is PASSION, PERFORMANCE AND PARTNERSHIPS, these themes came up time and time again. Then Michelle Lemaitre, Head of Sustainability for the International Olympic Committee highlighted their sustainability strategy, which is aligned with the UN Development Programme’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with 2030 goals and beyond in mind. But then Neil Beecroft, most recently of UEFA, said that, while we’re making progress, the sport world has to “shake existing models” and “dare for innovation”. Finally Norman Vosschulte, Director of Guest Experience for the Philadelphia Eagles, shared the club’s incredible sustainability story, which started with blue recycling bins under employees’ desks and has now reached the point of running a nearly 100% efficient stadium, with thousands of solar panels, aluminum recycling and much, much more. We were also glad to have speakers from the BBC, World Bank and Land Rover BAR’s (the UK’s entry in the 2017 America’s Cup, skippered by Sir Ben Ainslie) sustainability director, Susie Tomson among too many others to mention.

Michelle Lemaitre

Michelle Lemaitre, Head of Sustainability for the IOC at SIIS. (Photo credit: SIIS)

 

GSB: What a speaker roster! How did climate change fit into the mix?

CP: The climate change world was well represented at SIIS. Connect4Climate^ and Ecosphere+# were there. And Niclas SvenningsenManager, Strategy and Relationship Management, of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said something that resonated with many attendees, I thought: that Sport needs to let the climate change world know what it is doing.

GSB: I’m glad he said that but it’s also sad that he felt compelled to do so. A big part of GreenSportsBlog’s mission is to get the sports world to push a positive climate change message in the same way it, rightly, pushes against racism, bullying, homophobia, and more. And sports legitimately has great greening stories! It needs to share those greening stories much more loudly or else what’s the point?

CP: For sure. The UNFCCC has a Carbon Neutral Now pledge. Which doesn’t say you have to be carbon neutral now; you just have to make a pledge to get there. FIFA and adidas have already taken the pledge; more sports organizations need to do the same.

GSB: Especially the sports organizations and sponsors that are already on the carbon neutral road! How many people came to SIIS and how many streamed it via Facebook Live?

CP: We had over 150 people in attendance with about 85 percent from Europe and the rest joining us from the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and elsewhere. And we were very excited that another 1,500 or so joined us via live stream…

GSB: Including yours truly! The streaming saved on emissions, by the way…What kind of feedback did you get overall?

CP: The two words I heard over and over were “interactive” and “relevant”. People said SIIS was different than most other conferences they’ve attended in that the speakers, who were very knowledgeable and compelling, presented in ways that really encouraged interaction and collegiality. The other thing was that the attendees said they learned important new things that they were taking home to implement. This is exactly what we wanted to happen. We were also heartened to see that the event had a strong gender balance, with nearly 40 percent female representation.

GSB: This sounds like, forgive the American sports reference, a home run! Now, what, in your view, could have gone better?

CP: To my mind, we would have liked to see more corporate partners and corporate attendees there. Sports stadiums, clubs, federations and the like were well represented. But the corporations who support sports and also are greening were in shorter supply, with some notable exceptions like Dow, Schreder, and IWBI.

GSB: Getting in on a movement that will improve their image and lead to more business? Why in the world would they want to do that? Just kidding! Sheesh! So what’s next? The first SIIS was in Paris in 2015, during the COP21 climate conference, if memory serves. So will this be an every-other-year kind of event?

CP: The feedback we got was so positive and those who came along, tuned in online or we are in touch with through other channels, tell us we need to convene annually…

GSB: That’s just about the best endorsement you could get!

CP: Thank you! So we’re just starting to think about what a SIIS 2018 would look like. To those who want to be a part of it, I say – get in touch!

 

Connect4Climate is a global partnership among the World Bank Group, the Italian Ministry of Environment, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, that takes on climate change by promoting solutions and empowering people to act.
# Ecosphere+ was established by the Althelia Climate Fund to develop and scale the market for carbon assets, environmental services and sustainably produced commodities generated through transformational forest conservation and sustainable land use projects,

 


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What 2 Watch 4 in Green-Sports in 2017

Happy New Year to you, GreenSportsBlog readers! Thank you for your comments, suggestions and consistent support throughout 2016; keep ’em coming in 2017. Speaking of 2017, the climate change fight is facing some stiff headwinds in the US that were unexpected as recently as November 7, 2016. How will the increasingly high profile Green-Sports world react? With that in mind, let’s take a look at “What 2 Watch 4” in Green-Sports in 2017.

 

January 20: Inauguration of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States; Washington, DC.

What a difference a POTUS can make in Green-Sports.

Barack Obama was the first US president to engage in Green-Sports. He publicly praised the Pittsburgh Penguins for their greening initiatives at a White House ceremony in October and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted Green-Sports roundtables on his watch.

potus

President Obama lauds the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL for their sustainability leadership at the White House in October, 2016. (Photo credit: TMZ)

 

His successor, Donald J. Trump, is a climate change skeptic/denier who has nominated a climate change denier as EPA Administrator and promises to remove the United States from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.

How will the Green-Sports world react to President Trump? With the US government expected to pull back from the climate change fight, the private sector and the general public will need to, pardon the pun, pick up the green ball and run with it harder and faster than before. This is a great opportunity for leaders at the intersection of Green + Sports (commissioners, teams, sponsors, eco-athletes, non-profits) to play a pivotal role in accelerating the impetus for positive climate action.

 

 

February 7: Super Bowl LI; Houston, TX

What a difference a year makes in terms of the greenness of the Super Bowl Host Committee.

At this point last year, we were wondering whether The Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee would make good on its audacious promise to deliver “the greenest Super Bowl ever.” The answer, for the most part, was a resounding yes. Here are just a few of the Committee’s many sustainability accomplishments at Super Bowl City in San Francisco (the 9-day festival ahead of the game) and at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara:

  • Ensured, working with regional transportation agencies, there was ample public transit during Super Bowl week. Gate Ferry ridership during Super Bowl Week increased by 81 percent vs. 2015.
  • Partnered with the San Francisco Bike Coalition to establish a bike valet at Super Bowl City for the entire 9-day activation.
  • Sold tickets to a ‘Fan Express’ charter bus system for transport to Levi’s Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday from pick-up points throughout the Bay Area. The buses, from Google’s fleet, ran on Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel and removed approximately 2,000 cars from the road on Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Worked with PG&E, the Official Clean Energy Partner, to run Super Bowl City on clean, temporary power. 91% of temporary power in Super Bowl City was supplied by Neste NEXBTL renewable diesel generators, which reduced emissions and improved air quality.
  • Engaged master food concessionaire Legends to serve locally-sourced (within 75 miles) and/or organic food in Super Bowl City.
  • Free water stations were provided by U.S. Pure Water and FloWater. FloWater estimated it diverted 14,580 single use plastic bottles from landfill.

Click here for more details.

The hope was that the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee would, pardon the pun, take the sustainability baton from the Bay Area folks and run with it.

This appears not to be the case.

Yes, the Houston Host Committee is working closely with the NFL Environmental team as part of the NFL’s Super Bowl LI Environmental efforts. This is a continuation of the league’s 15+ year Super Bowl greening program. In Houston, the NFL is offsetting the energy consumed at the game; the league, Host Committee, Houston Texans and Verizon are helping to plant trees.

The NFL, Houston Super Bowl Committee, Verizon and the Houston Texans team up to plan trees in advance of Super Bowl LI.

 

But, with the maturing of Green-Sports, these actions, welcome though they are, seem like the “cost of doing green business.” It is up to local Host Committees to make their Super Bowls beacons for environmental action. The Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee showed future Host Committees the way. The Houston Host Committee, unfortunately, chose not to take that baton.

Of course Houston, capital of the US oil industry, is not the eco-hub that the Bay Area is. In many precincts of the Lone Star State, climate change denial and/or skepticism is alive and well. Expecting Houston to match or surpass Super Bowl 50’s greenness was probably a stretch.
Yet, amidst the oil, Houston and Texas have a strong sustainability heritage to build upon.
That Houston Super Bowl Committee chose not to celebrate this, it says here, is an opportunity missed.

So it’s “Wait ‘Til Next Year” for Host Committee greening as we soon turn our attention to Minnesota, the Vikings  and US Bank Stadium in advance of Super Bowl LII next February.

 

February 22-23: Sustainable Innovation in Sport Conference; Munich, Germany

Following a successful launch at the historic COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in late 2015, Sustainable Innovation in Sport will convene for a second time, bringing together an international lineup of Green-Sports leaders and influencers to discuss how best to accelerate the pace of positive environmental impacts via sport.

A sampling of confirmed speakers includes Vivianne Fraisse, Head of Sustainable Development at Roland Garros/French Open, Michelle Lemaitre, Head of Sustainability at the International Olympic Committee (IOC); Frederik Lindgren, Head of Corporate Sustainability for the European PGA Tour, and Norman Vossschulte, Director of Guest Experience with the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

June 3: UEFA Champions League Final, Principality Stadium; Cardiff, Wales

The European Champions League, comprised of the best soccer clubs across the continent and the British Isles, is a 32 team competition running from September to June. The Sweet 16 commences in February with the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Real Madrid battling to make it to the Super Bowl of Club Soccer at 74,500 seat Principality Stadium (formerly known as Millennium Stadium) in Cardiff, Wales.

millennium-stadium

Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales; site of the 2017 UEFA Champions League final. (Photo credit: Footballtripper.com)

 

The first Champions League final to be played in Wales will take place in Great Britain’s first ISO 2012-1 (standard for sustainable events) certified stadium and, according edie.net, a leading British sustainability-focused market research firm, one of the six greenest stadiums in the world. This is quite remarkable since Principality Stadium is not new—it opened in 1999—and was built without sustainability in mind. But things changed dramatically in 2010 when stadium owners announced their intention to significantly green operations.

  • Recycling and especially composting were far from standard operating procedure at British sporting facilities in 2010. Yet by 2012, Principality Stadium diverted 98.4 percent of its waste from landfill.
  • LED lighting and smart grid electronic systems were installed, along with water controls, leading to meaningful reductions in carbon emissions and water usage.
  • Further carbon emissions ensued as sustainability was imbued into the stadium’s supply chain processes.

 

June 27-29: Green Sports Alliance Summit; Sacramento, CA

The seventh Green Sports Alliance Summit will be held at Golden1 Center, the new, LEED Platinum home of the Sacramento Kings, recently named GreenSportsBlog’s Greenest New Arena of 2016.

The theme for Summit 2017 is Play Greener: Engaging Fans, Athletes & Communities. 

GSA is certainly on the right track here: The Green-Sports Movement needs more eco-athletes to speak out on behalf of positive environmental action and the climate change fight. Doing so will draw many more fans and communities to the cause.

To quickly maximize awareness of and interest in Green-Sports among fans, there is one constituency that needs to be added to the Play Greener lineup.

The Media.

There is a mutually beneficial, (Green-Sports) Movement-Media tango to be danced here.

The Movement needs the Media (sports, green, business and mass): Unless the many great Green-Sports stories told at the GSA and elsewhere are exposed to the broad audience of sports fans and thought leaders through the media megaphone, it will be difficult for the Movement to grow far beyond its current niche.

The Media needs the Movement: Actually, what the media really needs is eyeballs. And a fast-maturing Green-Sports Movement (climate change montage was featured at the Rio Olympics opening ceremonies, LEED certified stadiums are expected, etc., etc.) has plenty of inspiring, forward looking content to attract lots of eyeballs.

 

 

Late June-Early July: Mercedes-Benz Stadium Opens, new home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United F.C.

The Atlanta Falcons, thanks to having the second best record in the NFC, are enjoying a week of rest before their playoff run to a potential Super Bowl LI berth begins.

Rest is not something Scott Jenkins is getting much of these days.

Jenkins is General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new LEED Platinum home of the Falcons and MLS expansion club Atlanta United F.C. that is set to open in late June or early July. It will be the first LEED Platinum stadium in the world (the aforementioned Golden1 Center in Sacramento is the first LEED platinum arena.) He also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Green Sports Alliance.

Scott Jenkins

Scott Jenkins, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the future home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC, scheduled to open in 2017. (Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

 

Jenkins is implementing Falcons/Atlanta United F.C. owner Arthur Blank’s vision of top flight environmental performance in comprehensive fashion:

  • Light: The LED lighting system will use 60% less electricity than the metal halides at Georgia Dome, the Falcons current home. Abundant natural light will enter the concourses through energy efficient, floor-to-ceiling glass. The Oculus-style (think camera lens) retractable roof, the signature feature of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, will, when open, also maximize natural light.

Open Roof Aerial 08.18.15 (1)

Artist’s rendering of the open “oculus” roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

 

  • On-site Renewables: Solar panels on top of the garage nearest the stadium will, among other things, power charging stations that provide juice for EVs parked below.
  • Green Space: The Georgia Dome will be demolished; in its place will be new, grassy open space for tailgating and non-game day community use.
  • Rainwater Collection: Rainwater will be collected and used for irrigation and cooling towers.
  • Food: Farm-to-table and organic offerings will be available throughout the building.
  • Mass Transit: The stadium will be served by 2 MARTA light rail stops.

 

September 13: 2024 Summer Olympics Host City Announced; Lima, Peru

Three cities remain in the bidding to host the 2024 Summer Olympics: Budapest, Los Angeles, and Paris. Paris, which hosted in 1900 and 1924 and lost out on bids in 1992, 2008 and 2012, is the betting favorite, with current odds from British online bookmaker NicerOdds.com standing at 1.6 to 1. Los Angeles, which hosted the 1932 and 1984 summer games, is 2.75 to 1. First time bidder is the long shot at 8 to 1.

With sustainability (environmental, social and financial) now deeply codified in the Olympic bid process through a series of reforms passed by the IOC known as Agenda 2020, all of the bids have green elements that would have been unimaginable 12-16 years ago:
  • The Budapest bid’s compactness stands out: Most of the events would take place within seven clusters within the city proper along the Danube. Access by boat, metro and bus will be augmented by Active Route Network (ARN), an innovative bike share program. Five of the seven clusters can be reached from the city center by bicycle in 20 minutes or less.
  • Sustainability is, arguably the Los Angeles bid’s centerpiece. Every event will be contested in an existing or temporary facility. From the Rose Bowl to the Staples Center, from the new Rams stadium to the Coliseum, the sports infrastructure is there. The Olympic Village will use existing housing.
  • The Paris 2024 committee sees the city’s status as a global sustainability leader as a major plus. After all, the 2015 global climate pact signed in The City of Lights by 195 countries is known as the Paris Agreement. And, as reported by GamesBids.com, since the signing of the agreement, Paris 2024 has launched several major green initiatives, including “700 charging stations for electric cars, the regeneration of 55,000 square meters of urban land in the [city centre] to be converted into green space, the pedestrianization of 3.3 km of the right bank of the River Seine, a promenade for walking, jogging and cycling, creating an environmental charter implemented at major events such as the EURO 2016 football championships.”

Tough choice.

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