Green Sports Alliance Summit

Sustainability at the 4th Green Sports Alliance Summit

I am excited to speak at the 4th Green Sports Alliance Summit http://summit.greensportsalliance.org/ on July 21-22 in Santa Clara, California. More than 600 industry stakeholders will be listening to 80+ industry leaders, discussing how companies can promote better environmental sustainability, engage in community outreach, and advance the green sports movement. Pivotal issues to be explored by a wide selection of dedicated individuals.

Throughout history, sports have proven an effective way to bring people together in camaraderie. Whether it’s the baseball field, the hockey rink, or the ski slope, the environment is an important participant in any sport. This gives the industry strong motivation to preserve natural spaces, not only for athletes but for the children of future generations eager to experience the games themselves.

As a strategic advisor for ethical and sustainable business practices, I am always enthusiastic about industries making the green choice. It’s not just great for the environment but makes smart business sense as well. Sustainable purchasing helps you become a leading sports organization by eliminating waste and creating more efficient use of resources. For example, by forming partnerships with sustainable food providers, you have steady access to an efficient quality food source and by avoiding sweat-shop labour, you are selling better products to your clients, ones produced with skill and care.

That so many dedicated sports professionals have come together for the Green Sports Alliance is incredibly heartening, hopefully a prophecy of things to come. I look forward to helping the Alliance transform the whole sports environment and look forward to seeing you at the summit.

The MLB Hits a Homerun for Sustainability

mlb-allstar-game

Tuesday Night Mariano Rivera was named MVP of the 84th Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game. While Rivera’s performance pitching a perfect eighth inning and leading the American League All-Stars to a 3-0 victory over the National League was undoubtedly impressive, the real winner of the night was the environment. As part of an ongoing collaboration between the MLB and the National Resource Defense Council called the MLB Greening Program, the league went above and beyond the already impressive sustainability programs in place at Citi Field to ensure that the 2013 All-Star game featured progressive environmental features.

Since the 2008 All-Star Game, the MLB has been a shining example of the types of sustainability initiatives that can be accomplished by members of the Green Sports Alliance. This year, however, the MLB stepped up their sustainability efforts in a number of key areas. First, certified suppliers offset the 2013 All-Star games full water and energy use. In addition, the MLB incorporated a 1:1 recycling to trash bin ratio as well as a team of Green Team volunteers to ensure that waste was kept to a minimum. To create a lasting impact, the MLB made a point of connecting fans with environmental messages as well as demonstrating ways that they can reduce their own footprints.

Reeve Consulting is doing its part to help make the games that we all know and love more sustainable. This spring we were in contact with the Dallas Cowboys and in late August we will be taking part in the 2013 Green Sports Alliance Summit in New York. If you would like more information about the greening of sport, please feel free to contact us.

Green Ice for the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Chicago, LA, Pittsburg, or Boston: whichever team you’re rooting for in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, the ice that they’ll be playing on during the tournament will be green!

No, Boston hasn’t decided to dye the ice green in a late St. Patrick’s Day celebration. This year, the NHL has enlisted offset provider Sterling Planet to both purchase wind energy to power the games as well as purchase verified carbon offsets to balance the teams’ air travel.

Better still, this isn’t the first time the NHL has stepped up to reduce the league’s environmental impact. As the abbreviated 2013 regular season drew to a close, the NHL made good on their promise to plant 50 trees for every hat trick scored this year. In all, the league donated 1,600 trees to The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees campaign.

The NHL is far from alone in their fight to make the games that we all know and love greener. They are collaborating off the ice to work towards a more sustainable sports future as part of the Green Sports Alliance, along with six other professional sports leagues, nearly a hundred venues, and dozens of individual teams in nearly every sport. Reeve Consulting will be getting in the game too! We’ll be making the trip to attend the Green Sports Alliance Summit in New York City and sharing our success to help drive the change.

Major League Baseball Scores a Home Run in Greening Initiatives

This year marked a remarkable comeback for the San Francisco Giants, who despite a rocky early season, came back to sweep the Detroit Tigers and win the World Series. Although normally drawn to the drama of the Fall Classic, this year’s sustainability story peaked my interest in this year’s contest.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has put environmental issues front and center on baseball’s biggest stage. The first professional sports league to partner with the National Research Defense Council (NRDC), MLB officials and NRDC experts came together to discuss a league greening initiative titled the “Commissioner’s Initiative on Sustainable Stadium Operations and Team Practices”.

Backed by a variety of league events and team initiatives, the MLB is encouraging teams and venues to start greening and incorporating sustainable measures into their operations. To kick off the league’s initiatives, the NRDC developed the NRDC Greening Advisor, an online environmental resource that has been customized and distributed to each team in the league.

World Series contender’s strong supporters of greening initiatives

The Giants have made numerous efforts to promote environmentally responsible living. In partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric, the Giants installed a solar panel system to generate energy in San Francisco – the first such system in a MLB park.  These efforts build off the Giant’s shining achievement in 2000 when the AT&T Park became the first Major League ballpark to receive Leed Silver Certification.

Further east, the Tigers have taken steps to green their ballpark with the installation of the Tiger Den Seats, audience seating comprised of recycled plastic milk jugs.

Sport and Sustainability

The driving force behind the MLB’s greening initiatives remains its commitment to the fundamental principles of sport.

“Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities and caring for the environment is inextricably linked to all aspects of the game. Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect out natural resources for future generations of baseball fans.” – MLB Commissioner, Allan H. (Bud) Selig

In addition to the environmental benefits, the monetary benefits for professional sports leagues are robust, from saving thousands of dollars on energy, waste, and water bills to creating new sponsorship opportunities and enhancing brand value with corporate social responsibility.

We give a thumbs-up to MLB’s commitment to sustainability, although certainly much work remains to be done. Having recently participated in the “Sports and Sustainability” discussion held by the White House, the MLB continues to be an example of major league sport industry’s success in adopting more sustainable practices.  As teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies continue to add solar energy projects to their list of investments, we will continue to monitor MLB into 2013.  Check back with us for more updates on how MLB is taking the next steps in the clean energy movement.

Lackluster Sustainability Performance At 2012 Ryder Cup Begs The Question, “Is It Greener Across The Pond?”

Martin Kaymer may have made European history at the Ryder Cup, but sustainability was on the back burner at this year’s tee-off at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois.

The sport of golf continues to be an area of contention for environmentalists, a top issue being the deforestation and loss of wetland habitats often associated with the development of new golf courses. Donald Trump’s recent $150 million golf course in Scotland was a low for Trump’s PR after heavy jeering by environmentalists during the opening ceremony.

However, in an effort to integrate sustainability into the professional golf tournament, the Ryder Cup Europe pioneered Green Drive, a formal partnership between the golf tournament and the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) to bring innovative solutions to one of the world’s greatest sports. By 2002, the initiative had led to the first ever set of Environmental Guidelines for Golf Events.

“A great deal of effort was put into the environmental sustainability of this event. We wanted to bring the event greening to a new level.” – Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Director 2010 Ryder Cup, City of Newport, Wales

2010 Ryder Cup, City of Newport, Wales

According to A Review of the 2010 Ryder Cup Green Drive by GEO, the last Ryder Cup Europe tournament left a significantly lighter environmental footprint.  The aim of the tournament was to:

  • deliver a world-class event that showcased sustainability to event patrons and the local community,
  • encourage a legacy of environmental action in golf, and
  • advance the global sport and environment movement

The Action Plan set out clear objectives, supported by best practice recommendations for energy, water, waste, pollution prevention and ecological conservation.  These issues cut across a number of operational topics including venue management, transportation, catering, energy provision, and installation of fixtures and fittings.

2012 Ryder Cup, Medina, Illinois

Compare this to the 2012 Ryder Cup hosted by Team USA where American sustainability efforts were lukewarm.

Despite a triple-coalition between the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America, Audubon International, and FedEx to develop a sustainable golf-program that would facilitate eco-friendly improvements to public golf courses, few golf courses, including the Medinah Country Club, created a visible commitment on their online platforms to mitigate their environmental impact.  What limited information was made available about the 2012 Ryder Cup golf course operator’s “green” contributions revolved heavily on the change to Healthy Grow organic fertilizer.

But why does such a deviation exist from the sustainability standards set by Ryder Cup Europe?  The problem is three-fold: definition of environmentalism, centralization of authority, and level of community engagement.

Definition of Environmentalism

Under the PGA of America, environmentalism is considered a charitable endeavor whereby support of environmental causes is considered commendable, but not necessary.  This provides less incentive for tournaments to take part in creating a shift towards more sustainable operations.

Centralization of Authority

The second issue-at-hand revolves around the lack of centralization of environmental initiatives.  The PGA of America supports a “range of environmental causes” and at different levels.  Players and golf tournaments can independently donate or participate in environmental initiatives.  However, there is a lack of a central authority that ensures the necessary fulfillment of measurable environmental goals to be fulfilled.

Level of Community Engagement

The third issue centers on the lack of community engagement by the PGA about the importance of sustainability.  Unlike the 2010 Ryder Cup that implemented an immediate legacy program that included long-term outreach initiatives, the PGA of America has yet to implement visible community outreach programs to better communicate the value of sustainability.

Model of Sustainability

The PGA of America is the world’s largest working sports organization.  It has become a shining example of growing, teaching, and managing the game of golf.  At Reeve Consulting, we applaud the PGA’s partnership with the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program and hope that they will serve as a local, regional, and national model of sustainability for golf tournaments.

* The Ryder Cup is a biennial golf competition between teams from Europe and the USA hosted at alternating venues in the USA and Europe.

Green Sporting Alliance: out of the starting gate, but do we know the green score of the game?

The Green Sports Alliance (GSA) 2012 Summit was engaging, informative and definitely worth-while. On September 6 and 7th Reeve Consulting had the opportunity to travel to Seattle and attend the GSA Summit with the goal to further explore sustainability trends and experiences in the sporting world and spread the word about our own work and our new sustainability e-learning tool.

Out of the starting gate – presentation highlights

While it was clear that facilities, leagues, teams and suppliers were all on their own journey towards greening their operations; the consistent message coming from all the panels and stakeholders was the need to track progress and engage fans in team, event and league sustainability programs. We agree.

Given our work in the area of supply chains as a lever for corporate sustainability and eco-efficiency, we were especially interested to catch the conversation within the Organizational Sustainability and Supply Chain Strategies Panel, where panelists shared their key learning moments in rolling out their sustainability agenda.

Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategies for Microsoft shared that he regularly has moments of being reminded to rely on the experts within his team and company rather than trying to be an expert at everything.

Kevin Hagen, Director of Corporate Responsibility for REI and Ben Packard, Vice President of Global Responsibility for Starbucks, talked about the importance of speaking your audience’s language when rolling out your plan or sharing your success. Ben shared his realisation that customers cared less about what was in the cup and more about how they could be part of the solution, and how this in turn affected Starbucks marketing message.

Mike Lynch, Managing Director of Green Innovation for NASCAR spoke on the Environmental Perspectives from the League’s panel and really blew me away with how NASCAR and his department has rolled out NASCAR’s sustainability plans. At a conference that had everyone asking how do we measure success? How do we engage fans? How do we decide where to start? Mike could have given a best practices workshop of his own.

NASCAR started their program by reaching out to fans and stakeholders to find out their priorities then fashioned the NASCAR program to address those identified priorities. NASCAR has continued to maintain an open discussion with fans and stakeholders.

To wrap up, it wasn’t all big stadiums and leagues. Joel Benslaben was there with his app “Ideal Seat” which asks fans to document their ball game experience from the seats they sit in. Fan input is then compiled and accessed to make seat recommendations for app users based  on their seating desires.

Micheal Fechyshyn was in attendance representing Aspenware, a compostable dishware company based out of Vernon. I sampled their wares during breakfast and lunch and can report that they look and feel significantly nicer than the plastic compostable dishware one typically sees. Apparently they also compost more easily.

Do we know the green score? – looking for KPIs and performance measurement

We’ve all heard it before; “If it doesn’t get measured it doesn’t get managed”. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to green programs and sustainability initiatives.

We know key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance measures aren’t always at the top of the priority list when getting new programs launched – but programs can’t achieve scale if performance measurement is left to the end.

Great to see the Green Sport Summit getting this conversation going. We look forward to hearing more success stories at next year’s event.

Reeve Consulting attending the Green Sport Summit 2012, Seattle

This week, Amanda Mungal from Reeve Consulting will be attending the Green Sport Alliance Summit in Seattle. Designed for leaders from the sports community, this three-day executive summit will use a mixture of formats to introduce attendees to sustainability best practices that produce bottom line benefits while demonstrating responsible corporate and community citizenship.

Building off our work with the 2010 Bid Committee, VANOC and Sochi2014, Reeve Consulting recognizes the impact of large-scale sporting initiatives.

We’re looking forward to hearing firsthand how teams and venues are saving money and improving their environmental performance.  We hope to see you there.

View the video below for the 2011 Green Sports Alliance Summit Highlights:

 

Major League Sports Gulping the Green Gatorade

Flickr / Daveybot

It’s inspiring to browse the headlines on sites like NHL Green and the Green Sport Alliance these days and see the range of sustainability initiatives being adopted by major sporting leagues, teams and facilities.

Whether it’s venue recycling programs, such as those introduced at the MLB’s 2011 World Series or the upcoming Cal Athletics zero-waste games, food waste reduction programs, such as the NHL’s Rock and Wrap it Up! Program, through which over 160, 000 meals have been recovered across the NHL, or innovative energy conservation and generation programs such as the Cleveland Indians solar panels and wind turbine project and the Stadium Managers Association’s Energy Bowl competition.

In fact, check-out this great video from the series Energy Now! that highlights some of the renewable energy initiatives being undertaken by pro football stadiums around the league.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/29972293]

Clearly sports groups see the business case for sustainability on both the bottom line and corporate image. And many franchises have smartly focused on projects that are key “touch points” with fans, like recycling.

But as our colleagues in the sports world are well aware, showing up at the rink is one thing, you’ve got to step up your game if you want to be a regular out on the ice.

Next steps: robust measurement and reporting systems

Flickr / laffy4k

From our vantage point, there is plenty of excellent work and quality discussion around the value of greener sports – see videos from the 2011 Green Sport Summit presentations and panel discussions online – what we’re not seeing to any real degree is compelling and robust measurement and reporting on actual outcomes of green programs.

A quick Google search brings up few results in the realm of sustainability reports from leagues and teams, particularly in North America.

That being said, we did come across the 2010 and 2011 annual sustainability reports from the Saint Paul RiverCentre, Xcel Energy Center (home to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild) and their partners. While largely focused on recycling programming, we were impressed to see a section on green purchasing, highlighting the group’s Green Purchasing Playbook that identifies third-party standards like Energy Star and Green Seal across a range of product categories as well as policy guidelines that outline the prioritizing of green product merits over cost. The playbook has paved the way for many products to be switched to greener alternatives. In fact, 65% of the facilities’ custodial papers and cleaners are now purchased to these standards.

We were also pleased to recently come across a run-down of the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers sustainable purchasing program including a Green Cleaning Policy, local and organic refreshment sourcing and energy conservation programming.

The Sustainability Report from the Saint Paul River Centre and Xcel Energy Center is an example of a great first step into reporting by the sporting industry. As this field progresses we hope to see more reports aligned with recognized standards, like the Global Reporting Initiative and ISO 20121, bringing more rigor to measuring and reporting on operations and impacts.

Triple-bottom-line Reporting

Reeve Consulting is discussing with one of the major sports leagues creating a triple bottom line report for one of their marquee annual events, creating an opportunity to highlight and hopefully measure innovative sustainability projects within a more defined framework.

Flickr / s.yume

More than raising the profile of the event, such a report will back-up the good news stories with credible measurement, adding weight to the claim that the league is raising their game on sustainability. And beyond reporting on environmental programming, a triple bottom line focus will additionally invite reporting on the social initiatives undertaken by teams and leagues, for example, the Vancouver Canucks for Kids Fund or Whitecaps Youth Summer Camps.

A shout out to Saint Paul River Centre and Xcel Energy Center for taking the first shift, we’re looking to see other pro sports team step up and establish leadership and new benchmarking in this area.

Canucks’ Power Play takes aim on Sustainability

Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks

Flickr / pointnshoot

What a tremendous third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and fantastic game on Sunday. In case you missed it, our local Vancouver Canucks were victorious with a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, putting them just 1 win away from the Stanley Cup Finals! It’s all people can talk about around here.

The team at Reeve is similarly caught up in all things Canucks, so we’re focusing this week’s post on the team’s recent commitment to the Green Sports Alliance, a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the environmental impact of professional sports while engaging fans with environmental education.

Mass sporting events and sustainability

The Green Sport Alliance (GSA) was started in 2010 with founding members from six different North American professional sports teams – the Vancouver Canucks (NHL), Seattle Storm (WNBA), Seattle Mariners (MLB), Seattle Seahawks (NFL), Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) and the Seattle Sounders FC (MLS). Over the past year staff from these teams and venues have been focusing on sharing experiences, lessons learned and creating practical metrics.

Rogers Arena Vancouver Canucks warm-up

Flickr / Dahlstrom

At Reeve Consulting we feel the Canucks support of the GSA is great news. A main take-away from our experience working with the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games is the tremendous power of mass sporting events to engage a broad, global audience on key sustainability issues. From green building projects to the stories of sustainable athlete gifts and locally sourced victory bouquets, the sustainability initiatives of the Vancouver Olympics were a valuable side story to the 2010 Games.

While we welcome a North American network that blends environmental responsibility with professional sport interests, the Canucks and other teams need to walk the talk and show results.

What could sustainability success look like for the Canucks?

We’ve seen some commendable initiatives from professional teams like the Seattle Mariners, who among other projects have dramatically increased their stadium waste diversion rate and reduced their water usage. The Philladelphia Eagles have ambitious plans to power Lincoln Financial Field solely with on-site renewable energy by September 2011.

Building off our work with VANOC and more recently with the Organizing Committee of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, we have plenty of ideas for how the Canucks could make a real impact with their sustainability measures.

Vancouver Canucks merchandise

Flickr / Cindy Andrie

From introducing a comprehensive zero waste program in Rogers Arena, to taking a closer look at food and catering services, energy and water use, there’s plenty of potential for making the team’s operations more eco-efficient.

We would encourage the Canucks to view sustainability as more than environmental initiatives, and consider opportunities for further social investments. Canucks merchandise should be made free of child labour, and the team should be looking closely at the labour practices employed in their merchandising program supply chain. Closer to home, possible opportunities lie in structuring employment opportunities for people with disabilities, profiling local suppliers, and getting high profile Canucks to act as “green ambassadors” in the community.

We believe in our Canucks and are confident they will triumph in the end; they already have a fantastic image in the community through their valuable sponsorship and involvement with charities that support children’s health, wellness and education.

Green Sport Summit, Portland, August 1

Reeve is planning to attend the GSA’s inaugural event, the Green Sport Summit being held August 1 in Portland, and looks forward to hearing more about the plans for this group. Following the event, we’ll be sharing our insights here.

Go Canucks Go, CBC

Flickr / roland

While the full impact of green sport initiatives is yet to be seen, we feel there’s a lot of opportunity given the diversity of audiences sport draws.

In parting, we’ll leave you with this thought – 26.5 million, or 80% of Canadians watched some part of the Canadian gold medal hockey game during the Vancouver Winter Olympics – imagine the potential for public engagement if Team Canada’s victory had been accompanied by a call to action for Canadians to make a simple environmental commitment!

Go Canucks go!