GSB News and Notes: Sports Sponsor Volvo to Make Only Hybrid and EV Cars; 2017 Final Four Gets Highest Level Green Certification; MLS’ C.J. Sapong Brings Urban Farming to Philadelphia

After a week off, GreenSportsBlog is back with a News & Notes column about a trio of Green-Sports winners: Swedish car maker and sports sponsor Volvo announced it will only be making hybrids and electric vehicles (EV’S) as of the 2019 model year. The 2017 Men’s Final Four in Phoenix received the highest certification possible from the Council for Responsible Sport. And C.J. Sapong of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union teaches kids in the City of Brotherly Love about nutrition. 

 

VOLVO WILL MAKE ONLY HYBRIDS AND EV’S BY 2019; SPORTS FANS NEED TO HEAR ABOUT IT

In a story that should’ve gotten much more attention amidst the Trump-Putin meeting at the G-20, Volvo announced on July 5 that every car it introduces from the 2019 model year (fall 2018) onward will have an electric motor as they will only offer hybrids or electric vehicles (EVs). The Swedish company is the first major carmaker to take that step.

Now, this doesn’t mean Volvo is ditching gasoline and diesel engines—at least not yet—but it does put them on an inexorable path to ultimately phase out and replace internal combustion engines with cleaner and more efficient drivetrains. The next big step for the company is to transform all of its current models into hybrids, as well as launching five EVs between 2019 and 2021.

This is the latest move in the Swedish automaker’s rapid carbon footprint reduction program. Ciprian Florea, writing in the July 5 issue of Top Speed magazine, noted that in 2013, “Volvo described V-8 engines as ‘dinosaurs’ and pledged to eliminate [them] from its lineup. Come 2017, and all new Volvo vehicles feature four-cylinder engines only, some backed by electric motors in plug-in hybrid versions.”

“This is about the customer,” said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo president and CEO, in a statement. “People increasingly demand electrified cars and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose whichever electrified Volvo you wish.”

 

Samuelsson Volvo

Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo president and CEO (Photo credit: Volvo)

 

To ensure increased demand for electrified cars turns into increased sales for Volvo and not its competitors, the company will need to promote its new hybrid and EV models.

That’s where the company’s sports sponsorships should come into play. Interestingly, in recent years, Volvo has exited the premium car industry’s traditional sponsorship bailiwicks of auto racing and golf, preferring instead to focus on environmentally-friendly sailing along with tennis.

 

Volvo Ocean Race, October 2017-June 2018

The 2017-2018 round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race, which has sustainability coursing through its DNA, provides a fantastic platform on which to promote the switch to hybrids and EVs:

  • The 2017-2018 edition has adopted the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP) Clean Seas initiative, plastic ocean waste reduction campaign.
  • The race’s commitment to reduce its overall carbon footprint will be on display through educational and science programs at the fan villages at each of the 13 race stops, from its start in Alicante, Spain to its conclusion in The Hague, Netherlands.

 

Volvo Ocean Race

The 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race will start in Alicante, Spain and end in The Hague, Netherlands.

 

The race’s timing and length, from October 2017 to June 2018, as well as its consistent, worldwide broadcast coverage (NBCSN will follow the race in the U.S., Rogers SportsNet in Canada and Sky Sports in the U.K.) offers the company a global, 9-month run up to the start of the 2019 model year (beginning in August-September 2018). One can easily imagine ads touting the Volvo hybrids and EVs, themed to the Volvo Ocean Race, airing on TV and via digital channels during race broadcasts. It would be a huge opportunity missed if such ads don’t run.

 

Volvo Car (Women’s Tennis) Open, March 31-April 8, 2018, Charleston, S.C.

While the Volvo Ocean Race makes only one U.S. stop (Newport, R.I., May, 2018), the company has another stateside sports sponsorship; the Volvo Car Open Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in Charleston, S.C.

The tournament, at least from publicly available information, has not made the environment nor sustainability a priority. That is unfortunate but Volvo can take the green lead at its own tournament by promoting its EVs and hybrids on site. And, more importantly, they can do so during Tennis Channel’s exclusive coverage of the event.

Tennis Channel, as of March, 2017, reaches 52 million U.S. homes and has one of the most affluent audiences of any cable network. Since at least two of its five EVs will be at the high priced end of the car spectrum, Volvo and Tennis Channel will make for a strong marriage. And, as title sponsor, Volvo will have plenty of advertising opportunities during the tournament to stoke demand.

 

2017 MEN’S FINAL FOUR IN PHOENIX EARNS COUNCIL FOR RESPONSIBLE SPORT’S HIGHEST CERTIFICATION

A record crowd of more than 77,000 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, along with an audience of millions more on TV and online, saw the University of North Carolina Tar Heels upend the Gonzaga Bulldogs, 71-65, to win the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship back in April. Likely unknown to all but a few folks at the time was the fact that the 2017 Men’s Final Four was under consideration for the top level of sustainability certification available from the Council for Responsible Sport.

Consideration has now become reality as the Council and Phoenix Local Organizing Committee recently announced that the 2017 NCAA Final Four Basketball Championship garnered the top-level Evergreen Certification for its sustainability efforts and achievements. As long-time readers of GreenSportsBlog know, the Council for Responsible Sport is an Oregon-based not-for-profit organization that provides independent verification of the socially and environmentally responsible work event organizers, from road races to cycling events to Final Fours, are undertaking.

 

UNC Final Four

The University of North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate after winning the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in Glendale, AZ. The 2017 Men’s Final Four recently achieved the top level of sustainability certification (Evergreen) from the Council For Responsible Sport. (Photo credit: David J. Phillip)

 

The Organizing Committee made the Evergreen grade by achieving more than 90 percent of the 61 total best practice standards offered in the Council’s framework across five categories: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy. Here are some highlights:

  • 91 percent of all unavoidable waste was diverted from the landfill via a robust recycling, reuse and compost strategy led by the City of Phoenix Department of Public Works, which has a 40 percent diversion rate goal for Phoenix by 2020.
  • 5,300 Fan Fest, Tip Off Tailgate, and Music Fest visitors took a water saving pledge (and a selfie to #DropBuckets4AZ). Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) pledged to restore 1,000 gallons of water to Arizona Watersheds for each picture taken, resulting in restoring 5.3 million gallons of freshwater into an Arizona ecosystem.
  • All of the electricity used at the Phoenix Convention Center for Fan Fest and at the stadium during the event weekend was sourced from clean energy sources through the purchase of verified Renewable Energy Certificates.
  • An e-waste collection, with the support of LG, resulted in the proper recycling of 925 pounds of electronic waste.

 

PHILADELPHIA UNION’S C.J. SAPONG TEACHES KIDS ABOUT URBAN FARMING, NUTRITION THROUGH “SACRED SEEDS”

C.J. Sapong has been a top performer in Major League Soccer (MLS) over his seven year career. The Philadelphia Union forward won the Rookie of the Year award and, while with Sporting Kansas City, earned MLS and U.S. Open Cups. This season, Sapong is off to his best start ever, with nine goals in his first 18 games.

 

Sapong Goal Eric Hartline

C.J. Sapong of the Philadelphia Union. (Photo credit: Eric Hartline/Goal Magazine)

 

But as impressive as that record is, it is what Sapong has been up to off the pitch that drew GreenSportsBlog’s attention.

Sapong, an avid gardener and a student of hydroponics (the process of growing plants in sand, gravel and/or water, but without soil), is working, with his new nonprofit Sacred Seeds, to help children in Philadelphia reach their potential through improved nutrition. ​He shared his story in a must-read, “as told to” interview with Kevin Koczwara in the June 21st issue of Good Sports. Here are some excerpts:

  • “After some incidents that nearly derailed my career, improving my eating habits helped me get back on the field. My experience opened my eyes to the importance of diet, and as I looked around, I could see kids weren’t getting the nutrients they needed, either. But for them, it wasn’t a choice. In Philadelphia…I could see food deserts depriving kids of their basic needs. So I began brainstorming ideas on how to bring healthy, nutritious food to less-fortunate children [by] empowering kids to take charge of their own diet while getting their hands dirty.”
  • “There is a serious problem in Philadelphia and other major cities with food deserts…where access to fresh fruit and vegetables is nonexistent because of a lack of grocery stores or farmers markets. Usually occurring in impoverished neighborhoods, food deserts have a negative impact on the people living in them…A healthy diet helps quell things like anxiety, depression, lethargy, and behavioral issues. With that in mind, I wanted to combine my research [into micro-greens, hydroponics and aquaculture] to help combat food deserts in Philadelphia.”
  • Sapong partnered with Temple and Drexel universities to launch Sacred Seeds. “We’re implementing hydroponics in the greenhouses…using recycled materials, like used and discarded tires dumped around the city…but want to eventually move towards aquaculture…where plants grow in an environment that is fed by fish that live in a tank under the grow pads, feeding the plants on constant loop while the plants provide nutrients back to the fish. [This allows] the greenhouses [to] almost [fully] maintain themselves while providing children and neighborhoods with nutrient-rich food for their diets.”
  • The Union’s leading goal scorer this season wants kids in Philadelphia to help lead Sacred Seeds. “We need to teach kids [to] feel the positive energy that comes with harvesting something you created. We want them to get their hands dirty, to dig and grow their food. Nothing tastes as good as the food you make and grow.”

 

Sapong Good Seeds

C.J. Sapong of the Philadelphia Union works with Philadelphia kids as part of the Sacred Seeds initiative. (Photo credit: C.J. Sapong via Instagram)

 


 

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