A Retrospective on the 2018 USA Special Olympics Games

It was great to see Lew Blaustein’s GreenSportsBlog post today that tells the story of our work to bring sustainability for the first time ever to a Special Olympics USA Games last July. It’s a nice prompt to share some lessons learned, now that the adrenaline rush of the Games is behind us. For this blog, I interviewed Tim Reeve to share some of his reflections.

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Sustainability Impact Report was released last December. It shares the sustainability vision and achievements of this incredible 11 day event that brought over a hundred thousand people to Seattle to cheer on athletes with intellectual disabilities (ID). The report showcases the thoughtful and integrated approach to sustainability that amplified the social goals of the Special Olympics as well as reduced its environmental footprint. We were particularly impressed with how the Games hardwired inclusion into its operations and procurement by providing training and work opportunities and hosting a Job Fair for athletes and others with ID.

The biggest lesson learned for the organizing team was to reach out to stakeholders early to build a relationship and enlist them in the in the Sustainability Program. According to Tim Reeve, “The Special Olympics is a natural platform for progressive brands. The trick to being successful is to build the sustainability brand into the DNA of the event early on in the process, so sponsors see the opportunities to showcase their sustainability performance.” In Tim’s experience, partners and Sponsors are looking for platforms that allow them to communicate positive messages about their brand and their social purpose. Many are willing to contribute financial and technical resources to help the Games’ Organizing Committee activate, implement, and expand their sustainability goals. At the 2018 USA Games, both Coca Cola and SourceAmerica delivered major social impact in providing employment opportunities for individuals with ID at the Games and promoting inclusive hiring through the Job Fair.

Finally, encouraging a focus on responsible sourcing by the Games’ Organizing Committee, partners and sponsors can make a huge impact on the overall sustainability of the event. “Engage vendors and suppliers as early as possible on your sustainability goals and get some firm commitments,” Tim advises. “Planning for sustainability too late in the Games’ cycle means lost opportunities with sponsors, suppliers, staff, and volunteers.”

Reeve Consulting is a sustainability strategy firm that has worked with a wide variety of organizations to design and implement sustainable procurement strategies and programs, including the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Canada Winter Games and the recent 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. We help our clients create winning Sustainability Strategies with clear impact goals and sourcing strategy that brings on side the creative solutions and full potential of their supply chain partners.

Reeve helps Special Olympics Seattle 2018 set new sustainability benchmark

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On July 1, 2018 something very exciting will be happening in Seattle, and at Reeve we’re excited to be a part of it!  The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games opens, showcasing the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports. Reeve Consulting has been working closely with the Special Olympics USA Organizing Committee (SOUSA) to help them become the first Special Olympic Games to develop and deliver on a Sustainability Strategy.

In 2017, we created SOUSA’s Sustainability Strategy, which includes a framework of six sustainability goals that range from diverting waste to promoting education, sustainable transportation choices and accessibility. Responsible and sustainable procurement is also an important dimension of the Games’ sustainability strategy. Reeve also created six detailed action plans to support implementation of each goal. Drawing from our experience enabling the sustainability legacies of the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, we’ll be working with SOUSA on their Sustainability Impact Report and a Legacy Playbook.  The Playbook will equip future organizers with a template and tools to plan their own sustainability programming. Funding for this Sustainability Partnership has been made possible by the generous support of Microsoft.

We’re glad to help set this new benchmark for sustainability excellence within the Special Olympics movement. We love how this event is all about a more respectful and inclusive society for everyone, and look forward to the events.  Find us in the stands cheering!

The MLB Hits a Homerun for Sustainability

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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.

2012 – A Turning Point in Municipal Sustainable Purchasing in Canada

Sustainable purchasing is gaining ground in the Canadian municipal sector as municipalities realize its contribution to existing ‘green’ objectives, such as zero waste and climate neutrality, and corporate ones, such as risk management or operational efficiency. As a relatively new practice within the Canadian public sector, many municipalities are reaching out to their peers to share resources on sustainable purchasing. A cross-country peer network that is a front-runner in setting new benchmarks and best practices in sustainable purchasing in Canada is the Municipal Collaboration on Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP).

The MCSP, for which Reeve Consulting serves as secretariat and technical expert, allows municipalities to share sustainable purchasing lessons, best practices, “tricks of the trade”, and other resources to fast-track their individual programs. The group recently launched a publication co-authored by Reeve on, ‘The State of Municipal Sustainable Procurement in Canada’. Through consultations with MCSP participants and extensive literature review, the study reports on the current state of municipal sustainable procurement in Canada.

The study found that 2012 was an important year for municipalities with many strategically approaching their programs:

  • In response to increased staffing and resource constraints, municipalities enhanced their collaboration with MCSP peer and other agencies and strategically leveraged existing relationships and shared resources
  • Inter-departmental collaborations were also strengthened especially between Procurement and Sustainability. Other departments were also engaged via, for example the formation of inter-department green teams, to increase program buy-in and instill behavioural change on municipal spending
  • Greater focus on implementation. Recognizing that it takes 2 to 5 years to form a comprehensive program, many municipalities took a dual-track approach, dividing resources between building program elements and targeting key contracts such as copy paper (that has a mature sustainability market)

Overall, 2012 is considered to be a turning point in municipal sustainable procurement in Canada due to the focus on collaboration. Next year, municipalities have reported that they will be implementing their programs more widely and developing measurement and reporting frameworks. With insufficient levels in their resource pools, forming stronger and wider collaborations for sustainable purchasing will be more important than ever.

>> Download a full copy of the 2012 State of Municipal Sustainable Purchasing report from the Resources page.

To learn more about the MCSP, contact Tim Reeve @:                           tim@reeveconsulting.com or by phone at 604-763-6829.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

Due North: Strengthening Green & Sustainable Purchasing in the Yukon

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Various orders of government in the Yukon are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their operations by designing and implementing customized environmental and sustainability policies, projects and programs.

To this end, the Yukon Intergovernmental Committee on Environmental Sustainability (YICES) is focused on identifying opportunities for collaboration to advance a collective sustainability agenda and strengthen individual programs. Recently Reeve Consulting worked with YICES to plan, organize and facilitate a sustainable purchasing workshop in Whitehorse.

Held on October 27th the full-day workshop attracted more than 50 participants, including government staff from four orders of government (federal, territorial, municipal and First Nations) as well as participants from other major organizations in the North such as NorthwesTel, Yukon Energy Corporation and Yukon College.

With a focus on increasing support and skills for green and sustainable purchasing, as well as catalyzing a network between various levels of government to strengthen sustainability initiatives, a key outcome of the event was the high degree of enthusiasm that participants demonstrated for collaboration.

Workshop Highlights

The day kicked-off with a welcoming address from Mike Johnson, Deputy Minister, Highways and Public Works for the Yukon Government who highlighted the importance of sustainable purchasing to the Territories strategic objectives of reducing costs, improving services and infrastructure. Johnson contextualized his remarks with the effects of climate change on the North and the millions being spent to repair highways and roads as a result of permafrost break-up.

Key drivers for sustainable purchasing were highlighted in the first session of the day, with a clear overview of the business case and level of support required to develop a successful sustainable purchasing program. Speakers David Knight, Manager, Procurement Services for Highways and Public Works in the Yukon and Melissa Hall, Procurement Advisor, Corporate Services for Aboriginal Affairs  & Northern Development Canada, made compelling cases around how sustainable purchasing is helping to take advantage of eco-efficiencies associated with reduced packaging, product take-back and reduced greenhouse gas emissions – issues critical to northern communities were transportation costs can be at a premium.

To walk the talk, Reeve Consulting worked with organizers to have Madelaine Plouffe, Green Procurement Team Leader with Public Works Government Services Canada in Gatineau, Quebec provide a lunchtime keynote address via video conferencing technology that allowed for a live and interactive presentation.

A preliminary review of the evaluations shows that participants were very pleased with the event. To build on this momentum, YICES is now working on outlining future workshops.

Environment Yukon has linked to many of the presentations from the day on their homepage. Slides from Reeve Consulting’s presentations [PDF] are also available online.

Talking strategy with City of Whitehorse & the Arctic Winter Games

While in Whitehorse, Tim Reeve also took the opportunity to continue some strategic planning with the City of Whitehorse on the development of their environmental sustainable purchasing policy.

Tim also had the opportunity to stop by the offices of the Arctic Winter Games to meet with organizers and offer some thoughts on how they can achieve zero waste goals for the Games in March 2012.

On the Air: using sport to accelerate sustainability

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This week’s Green with Envy radio show focused on using sport to accelerate sustainability. As described by host Peter ter Weeme:

“We all know that sports and physical activity are important to maintaining good health, developing teamwork skills, and fostering relationships and understanding between people and cultures. But there’s a new benefit that’s emerging – a global movement around sport and sustainability. From baseball diamonds to major sporting events, action is being taken to gain a better understanding of the impact sporting events have on the environment, provide inspiration and tools for teams and venues to make changes to reduce that impact, and engage more people in the benefits of sport. Tune into this week’s edition of Green With Envy to hear more about the people making it happen.”

The show started with a topical discussion between host Peter ter Weeme, Tim Reeve and Ann Duffy focused on their experiences integrating sustainability into the delivery of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

Later in the show, Rosalyn Morrison, Chair of the Ontario Summer Games Legacy Committee, shared insights on incorporating sustainability into Toronto’s upcoming Ontario Summer Games and 2015 Pan Am Games. Allen Herschkowitz, board member of the Green Sports Alliance gave some compelling information on the enormous eco-footprint of sporting events followed by some innovative examples of green stadium operations and potential for environmental and financial savings.

Tune in – full audio from the show can be streamed from the Green with Envy website HERE.