Happy New Year to you, GreenSportsBlog readers! I hope you had a great holiday season. Thank you for your comments, suggestions and consistent support throughout 2017; keep it coming in 2018.
Speaking of 2018, the way GSB sees it, the Green-Sports world will continue its necessary transition from Version 1.0, which focused mainly on the greening of games at the stadia and arenas, to Version 2.0, which emphasizes athlete and fan engagement, both at the game, and even more importantly, beyond the stadium/arena — after all, that’s where the bulk of the sports fans can be found. With that in mind, let’s take a look at What 2 Watch 4 in Green-Sports for 2018.
Monday’s College Football Playoff (CFP) championship game between Georgia and Alabama, will take place in Atlanta’s brand new LEED Platinum showplace, Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Looked at through a Green-Sports 1.0 lens, the stadium is already a champion, from its state-of-the-art water efficiency efficiency systems to its 4,000 solar panels to its LED lighting throughout the building.
Aerial view of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta (Photo credit: AMB Sports and Entertainment)
But how will the championship game fare from a Green-Sports 2.0 perspective?
CFP’s Playoff Green initiative ran a semester-long tree planting campaign in the Atlanta area — public service announcements are scheduled to promote it to the 71,000 fans in attendance.
But will ESPN, with its multiple channels (I put the over/under at five) airing the game, share the story of the greenness of the stadium and of Playoff Green, with the 25 or so million people watching?
I bet the answer is no; I hope I will be proven wrong.
February 4: Super Bowl LII; US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
It is safe to say Super Bowl LII will be a more sustainable event than its predecessor in Houston last February. After all the bar is set extremely low: the Houston Super Bowl LI Host Committee did next to nothing of note, green-wise.
What is noteworthy are the solid, green actions taken by the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee. These include:
- Granting a portion of its $4 million Legacy Fund to environmental charities. One grantee is the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Native American tribe — the funds helped build a community garden, supplying healthy food in an area where access is lacking.
- The collection of over 42,000 pounds of TVs, computers and cell phones at the Minnesota Zoo as part of an October E-Waste drive, in partnership with NFL sponsor Verizon.
- Working with Verizon and Minneapolis-based Andersen Corporation to fund 14 habitat restoration and urban forestry projects across the state, resulting in the planting of thousands of trees and native species.
The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, in partnership with the NFL, Verizon and Andersen Windows have planted more than 700 trees as part of their Urban Forestry Initiative for Super Bowl LII (Infographic Credit: Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee)
There is one environmental concern surrounding US Bank Stadium and thus, by extension, Super Bowl LII, that, to be fair to the Host Committee, predated its existence: The problem of birds killing themselves by crashing into the largely glass exterior of the stadium that opened in 2016. The Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority were made aware of this issue during the stadium’s design phase and chose to do nothing about it.
Neither Audubon Minnesota nor Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis plan to organize protests tied to Super Bowl LII. And without protests, the likelihood that the media covers the “old news” bird kill issue is slim.
And, it says here, that NBC Sports will not devote air time to the Super Bowl LII “solid but not groundbreaking” sustainability story.
Hey, I never said this Green-Sports 2.0 thing would be easy. Maybe the Winter Olympics will provide a better platform?
February 9-25: XXIII Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, South Korea
The myriad of issues surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program will no doubt garner the lion’s share of NBC Sports’ non-sports coverage during the Winter Olympics. And that is at should be.
Will there be enough non-sports oxygen for the environment and climate change?
Even though the organizers will not feature a climate change-themed vignette in the Opening Ceremonies, as did Rio 2016, I say there is at least a 50-50 chance that the Peacock Network features the environment and climate in its countless sidebar stories — and that Green-Sports 2.0 will be be a winner at PyeongChang 2018.
After all, there are great sustainability tales to tell:
- PyeongChang 2018 will generate more clean electricity than total electricity consumed during the Games. You read that right: PyeongChang 2018, together with host provincial government Gangwon, funded wind farms that will produce 45 percent more electricity than will be needed to power the Games.
- Six of the newly constructed competition venues feature either solar or geothermal power.
- Several of the venues will be G-SEED certified, the Korean green building equivalent of LEED.
Wind turbines in Gangwon Province, part of the developments funded by PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) that will, in total, generate 45 percent more energy than the Games will use. (Photo credit: POCOG)
Most importantly, it is likely that Protect Our Winters (POW), an organization made up of current and retired elite winter sports athletes which advocates for legislative action on climate change, will have several articulate, charismatic members on the U.S. team.
Will NBC Sports interview POW athletes about their activism as well as their athleticism?
I say YES!
Spring: NHL Issues Its Second Sustainability Report
In 2014, the National Hockey League became the first professional sports league in North America to issue a sustainability report. Among other things, the league disclosed its direct carbon footprint and that of its sizable supply chain.
That the league will be issuing its second such report this spring before any of its counterparts (MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL) produce their first demonstrates 1) the NHL’s consistent, substantive Green-Sports leadership, and 2) the need for the other leagues to step up their green games.
Regarding the upcoming report, I look forward to see 1) how the league has progressed on emissions reductions since 2014, and 2) if emissions from fan travel to and from games will be added.
April 29: Opening, Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles
This is a classic Green-Sports 1.0 story about a new, LEED certified stadium — and 1.0 stories are still good things.
Banc of California Stadium, the 22,000 seat home of Major League Soccer expansion team LAFC will open this spring with LEED Silver level certification. Sustainability features include:
- Easy metro accessibility via the Expo Line at nearby Expo Park/USC station
- EV charging stations for 5 percent of vehicles, and that number will increase
- 140,000 sq. ft. of additional public open space
- 440 bicycle parking spaces and a bike path that feeds into Los Angeles’ My Figueroa path system
Artist rendering of Banc of California Stadium (Credit: LAFC)
Banc of California Stadium will serve as an appetizer on the LA new stadium scene. The main course? The projected 2020 opening of LA Stadium at Hollywood Park, the new home of the NFL’s Chargers and Rams. Early reports say LEED certification is being considered.
GSB has low exceptions, Green-Sports-wise, for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the world’s most followed sporting event..
FIFA did issue “A More Sustainable World Cup,” a 15-page, Russia 2018 progress report which asserted that:
- At least six of the 12 stadiums hosting World Cup matches will be BREEAM certified: Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, site of the final match; Mordovia Arena in Saransk, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Samara Stadium, Spartak Stadium, and Volgograd Arena.
Workers play soccer adjacent to the under-construction and BREEAM-certified Samara Stadium (Photo credit: The Guardian)
The BREEAM-certified Volgograd Arena (Photo credit: The Guardian)
- The South Pole Group, a carbon management consulting firm, is working with FIFA to estimate the carbon footprint of Russia 2018.
- FIFA plans to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions related to the event.
This is fine from a 1.0 POV, but there is much more to the story.
Remember, the organizers of Sochi, Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympics promised the “cleanest Olympics ever.”
The reality was far different.
According to a piece in the February 21, 2014 issue of Earth Island Journal by Zoe Loftus-Farren:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has a stunning disregard for environmental laws: “Environmental laws can be pesky, and Putin’s government amended several laws to make way for Olympic glory: In 2006, the Russia government amended a ban on holding large sporting events in National Parks, in 2007 it eliminated compulsory environmental assessment for construction projects, and in 2009 the legislature [weakened] the Forest Code.”
- On Sochi 2014-related environmental wrongs: “Large illegal waste dumps have cropped up around the region, including within Sochi National Park. More than 3,000 hectares of forest have been logged, including regions with rare plant species. Large swaths of previously protected wetlands now lay underneath the Olympic Village.”
Aside from the BREEAM-certified stadia, it is fair to assume that, from an environmental perspective, the Sochi 2014 past is prologue for Russia 2018.
It would be great if Fox Sports undertakes some award-winning investigative journalism into the Russia 2018 environmental story during its coverage of the tournament.
I’m not holding my breath.
June 26-27: Green Sports Alliance Summit; Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
Atlanta’s LEED Gold Mercedes-Benz Stadium will occupy the Green-Sports center stage for the second time in 2018, this time as host of the eighth Green Sports Alliance (GSA) Summit.
According to the GSA’s website, Summit 2018 will feature “more networking opportunities and [will] focus on hands-on workshops for attendees to work through challenges, share lessons learned, and gather valuable take-aways to implement in their communities.”
Speakers and panels have yet to be announced so stay tuned.
August 27-September 9: US Open Tennis, Bille Jean King National Tennis Center, Queens, NY
After a decade of Green-Sports leadership paid off with the US Open winning GSB’s “Greenest Sports League/Event” award for 2017, what can the USTA do for an encore?
From a Green-Sports 1.0 perspective, the answer is clear: The opening of Louis Armstrong Stadium 2.0.
The 10,000 seat stadium will likely achieve LEED certification by the start of the tournament. Here are three reasons why:
- 95 percent of the waste from the demolition of the original Armstrong Stadium was recycled
- Landscaping around the new stadium has been designed to use 55 percent less water
- The new Armstrong Stadium will be the first naturally ventilated stadium with a retractable roof in the world.
Methinks this last point is so cool that it will warrant attention from ESPN during its tournament coverage, which would mean a nice Green-Sports 2.0 win.
One minute, time lapse photography video of the demolition of the old Louis Armstrong Stadium and the building of the new one. The latter will be the first naturally ventilated stadium with a retractable roof.
November 6: Midterm Elections, United States
What do the midterm elections in the United States, in which the control of the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate are up for grabs, have to do with Green-Sports?
Well, the aforementioned Protect Our Winters (POW) won GSB’s 2017 “Best Green-Sports Story of the Year” award in large part due to its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill and its willingness to get involved in electoral politics.
When asked about POW’s goals for 2018, manager of advocacy and campaigns Lindsay Bourgoine said: “Our main goal in 2018 is to get down and dirty in the midterm elections in November…We have identified ten ‘battleground elections’ where we feel it is really important to elect a climate friendly leader, whether Democrat or Republican.”
Lindsay Bourgoine, manager of advocacy and campaigns for Protect Our Winters (Photo credit: Protect Our Winters)
In the meantime, I look forward to sharing powerful Green-Sports stories — of both the Version 1.0 and 2.0 varieties — wherever I find them!