Tag Archives: NRDC

Greening in Sports, a Game Changer

Drexel student Danny Ricciardi wrote “Greening in Sports, a Game Changer” for Buzz On Broad. Read the full article here.

We live in a world where a change is needed, because a change is coming. The environment is not what it used to be, and the things we live on are the reason why. Before you read this please know that this is not a lecture on climate change or how you should recycle. Although you should recycle, this is a bigger movement.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a nonprofit environmental organization that since 1970, have worked to protect the world’s natural resources. The organization was created to protect public health, the environment and the world’s natural resources. The NRDC has more than 1.3 million members, and that number continues to grow.

Continue reading on Buzz On Broad’s website

Professional Sports Teams Win Big on Sustainability

By Sara Drexler*

Panelists and Moderators from Friday’s Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry Conference. Courtesy of NRDC.

Last Friday, the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Wharton Sports Business Initiative to host representatives from the professional sports industry to share ideas around “Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry: Raising the Bar for Sustainability.” Allen Hershkowitz from NRDC, a senior scientist who is a thought leader in sustainability efforts in the sports industry, opened the panel with a remarkable statistic: 13% of people follow science, over 63% follow sports. The sports industry has a unique opportunity to influence trends in sustainability through its significant fan base across all types of sports. Additionally, the sports industry’s unique facilities and operations present significant opportunity for long-term cost savings through investments in environmental sustainability. This combination of financial incentives and a large base of loyal fans positions the sports industry for maximum impact on sustainability. Continue reading

Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry Conference – Wharton IGEL, NRDC, WSBI

GreeningSportsConfHeaderWant to know more about greening sports?

Join the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL), the Wharton Sports Business Initiative (WSBI), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) at the Leadership in Greening the Sports Industry Conference on Friday, September 20, 2013.

The conference will feature speakers from the Yankees, the Miami HEAT, the Seattle Mariners, NASCAR, and more, in addition to a closing keynote from Frances Beinecke, President of the NRDC. The event’s objective is to examine the best business practices for sports organizations to improve environmental performance and become leaders in sustainable development. Discussions will highlight leadership, corporate partnerships, communications, fan engagement, resource management and merchandise, as well as potential future business opportunities.

This event is open to the public and free of charge: click here to register.

Community Engagement through Penn’s Sprouting Athletics Eco-Reps Program

by Marissa Rosen

Collegiate athletics programs can provide experiential learning and engage a broad audience, thus serving as a particularly attractive educational vehicle. Athletic teams and their events can build a school’s community, appeal to donors, strengthen alumni connections, attract prospective students, and generate school pride. They can also send a message of environmental sustainability.


Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) sponsored last Tuesday’s official kick-off dinner for the University of Pennsylvania’s Athletics Eco-Reps program. Thirteen founding Varsity athletes, along with coaches and supporting staff, have been strategizing since last fall to reduce their teams’ environmental impact, addressing water and energy conservation issues, recycling rates, fan engagement, and responsible sourcing. Penn’s unique program is part of the Ivy League Conference’s collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council Green Sports group and the Green Sports Alliance.
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Green Philadelphia: A New Porch/Park and More

Our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council sent us a few links today for new steps in sustainability for Philadelphia, and we wanted to share.  Kaid Benfield, a blogger and Director of Sustainable Communities for NRDC, posted yesterday that

If you care about green cities, you have to like a lot of what’s happening in Philadelphia lately, from land use planning to watershed management to the greening of vacant and blighted lots and, now, the opening of a lively new public space that makes the city a better place to live, work and visit.

Well, as Philadelphia natives, we have to agree that Philadelphia is quickly becoming a better place to live. As Benfield wrote in his post yesterday, for those of us who commute via 30th Street Station, a new park called “The Porch” has made the walk from the train more fun.  On any given day, there could be a pianist playing the outdoor upright piano, people playing minigolf, a farmer’s market or an art installation. The relatively-new Schuylkill Banks park has increased the green space along the river and now hosts kayak tours, interpretive nature signage and a “movies on the green” series. Penn Park, the University of Pennsylvania’s expansive revitalization project, has also added to the green space along the riverfront, with trees, playing fields and walking trails.

Penn Park (image from PennConnects)

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Greening the Sports Industry with Alice Henly of NRDC

oikos International Student Reporter Marissa Rosen had the opportunity to meet and to chat with Alice Henly, Research Fellow at NRDC Green Sports, at the Wharton IGEL conference on April 26th. Alice and Marissa discussed the NRDC’s fan engagement strategies which have reached over 40 million NFL, NHL, MLB, and USTA enthusiasts, as well as new initiatives for the Ivy League sports conference and her sustainability challenges and successes along the way.

As a result of NRDC’s work, more than 100 professional teams have adopted environmental initiatives at their stadiums or arenas. This is certainly impressive! What would you say have been the hardest aspects of implementing change in the standards business practices of the professional sports venues?

The greatest challenge for many of our sports partners (like all organizations) interested in implementing a company-wide environmental program is finding the money to invest in the project. The single most important practical insight from our work to date is that starting with cost-saving environmental initiatives is crucial for garnering institutional support for a comprehensive sports greening program. Improved efficiency means less waste, which often translates into cost savings, as well as energy, water and other resource savings. We have found that business development and cost-cutting opportunities are essential for most effectively advancing our partners’ environmental agendas. A sports greening program that starts with financially-sound environmental initiatives helps the program gain momentum by helping to cut costs, strengthen the company’s brand, attract “green” sponsors, and engage a broader fan-base.

We always target the low-hanging fruit first, which yields the triple dividend of cutting costs, benefiting the environment and protecting public health. Reducing paper use, for example, saves money. The manufacture of virgin paper contributes to climate change, water pollution, the loss of forests and hazardous air pollution. A typical office disposes of about 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee annually. Switching to double-sided printing can cut this figure—and corresponding expenditures and environmental impacts—almost in half. Significantly reducing paper use reduces air and water pollution, disrupts fewer habitats, and saves precious resources like forests, energy and water, all while benefiting the bottom line.

The NRDC Sports Greening Project focuses on reviewing the day-to-day operations and supply chain relations of professional and collegiate sports with a focus on reducing ecological impacts. By implementing strategies like reducing energy use and waste, our project enables our sports partners to see the economic benefits of operating more efficiently, as well as the social benefits of giving back to their communities and promoting public health. We developed several tools to enhance the effectiveness of our project:

  • We created the NRDC Greening Advisor, free web-based guides for each major professional sports league that cover everything from purchasing to waste management. The NRDC Greening Advisor earned the U.S. EPA’s Environmental Merit Award in 2008 in recognition of its being the most comprehensive operations greening guide ever assembled.
  • We developed a guide entitled Solar Energy for Your Stadium or Arena, in partnership with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. The guide encourages all sports facility operators to install on-site solar technology and provides detailed information about the process including: physical requirements, costs, available funding and incentives, and proposals.
  • We produce many Public Service Announcements featuring sports icons such as Venus Williams to educate fans about the environmental work of our partners.

Another important greening challenge for many major sports venues is access to robust and complete facility-wide information on energy and water use, as well as waste generation and other product procurement tracking. As the old saying goes, you manage what you measure. So as part of our ongoing collaboration with professional leagues, we are helping develop comprehensive software systems to collect and analyze facility operations data and encourage better practices by individual teams. Thanks to our project, MLB was the first professional sports league to implement a program in 2010 to collect league-wide data in order to document practices and share information about environmental efforts. The program quantifies facility operations data regarding energy consumption, waste management and recycling, water consumption and paper purchasing, with the opportunity to expand to additional metrics. The NHL launched their system in 2011 and we are working on similar tracking systems with the NBA, NFL and MLS for dissemination to all professional teams.

The NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL and MLS Have Partnered with the NRDC

What do you feel has been your largest personal contribution to the “Green Sports” arena, and what were the tangible outcomes from your work?

The NRDC Sports Greening Project is the most influential sports greening project in the world. NRDC pioneered the field of sports greening in the United States by engaging the world’s most iconic sports organizations in an industry-wide initiative to advance ecological stewardship. The NRDC Sports Greening Project works with more professional and collegiate sports leagues, teams and partners on environmental stewardship than any other project in the world. Our many project participants include: Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, the National Football League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Council of Ivy Group Presidents, the United States Tennis Association, the Green Sports Alliance (GSA), the Stadium Managers Association, Wharton Sports Business Institute, Ernst & Young, AEG, and approximately 140 professional sports teams.

The NRDC Sports Greening Project has led many major sports facilities nationwide to upgrade their infrastructure, improve efficiency and reduce their environmental impact. Thanks to our project our partners together have already:

  • avoided over 20 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (based on cumulative RECs and carbon offsets purchased by leagues and teams),
  • saved over 10 million pages of paper annually (based on total avoided printed media guides),
  • installed over 19 thousand solar panels atop major sports facilities
  • restored over 1.4 million gallons of water to critically dewatered rivers and streams in the Western U.S. in 2011 alone (thanks to league- and team-based initiatives to balance water use during games) and conserved millions of gallons of water annually (based on cumulative savings from water efficiency initiatives including water-efficient fixtures and green roofs),
  • instigated over 80 recycling programs and over 20 composting programs in sports facilities and recycled millions of pounds of material (based on cumulative diversion rates).

All major U.S. professional leagues have distributed our Solar Development Guide to their teams (138 teams in total), within 62 independent markets, and to all U.S. sports facility operators. The guide was well received and there are now 11 major on-site solar systems.

On a more personal level, I recently launched a new sports greening partnership with the Ivy League. By teaming up with NRDC, the Ivy League made a landmark greening commitment as the first collegiate athletics conference in the name of environmental protection. I am working with the League to reduce the environmental impacts of its championship events and provide greening resources to all Ivy athletic departments, with the goal of minimizing the environmental footprint of their operations and supply chains. To kick off this partnership, we integrated ecologically intelligent practices into the planning and production of the inaugural Ivy League Women’s Rowing Championship, which took place on Sunday, May 13th at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, N.J.

What have been the most effective ways to utilize the fans and get them involved in sustainability efforts?

The NRDC Sports Greening Project uses sports—which transcend political, cultural, socio-economic barriers—as the mouthpiece for environmental protection in order to more effectively tackle the serious ecological threats facing our planet and society. We seek to use our sports greening project as a vehicle to integrate environmentalism into mainstream American culture and behavior by informing and inspiring millions of Americans about the importance of environmental stewardship.

Our NRDC Sports Greening Project has had unparalleled outreach to millions of fans and businesses via the screening of environmental Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that we developed for our major league partners. To date the sports greening PSAs that we created in partnership with the NBA, the NHL, MLB and the USTA have reached over 40 million people about the importance of environmental stewardship. We have produced many PSAs over several years with icons including Billie Jean King and Robert Redford.

Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, will be the first pro stadium in the U.S. to generate 100% of its own electricity.

Locally in Philadelphia, the home of the NFL Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field will be the first professional stadium in the U.S. capable of generating 100 percent of its own electricity onsite with the installation of about 2,500 solar panels, 80 20-foot-high wind turbines, and a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel. Do you for see other NFL stadiums following this example, and if so, when?

The Philadelphia Eagles have made a very impressive commitment to environmental stewardship across all of their operations and are an excellent role model for their peers both within the NFL and across all professional sports leagues. I think the Eagles’ green initiatives will definitely spark greater interest in environmental programs throughout the NFL. In fact, another great example of a recent environmental accomplishment within the NFL is the Chicago Bears’ Soldier Field receiving LEED Certification. Soldier Field is the first NFL stadium to receive the award of LEED-EB Certification (which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings).

About the Author: Marissa is a Saint Louis native with an educational background in Communication and Biology from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She currently works full time at the University of Pennsylvania where she supports workplace sustainability as a Staff Eco-Rep, and is a Master student in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Advocacy and Education. Marissa will be an intern with Sustainable Brands for summer 2012, and will manage social media accounts to promote the greening of the associated multinational corporations. Marissa is an avid traveler and enjoys dancing, hiking, and jogging.

Environmentally and Economically Sustainable: Businesses at their Best

How can businesses develop products that are both environmentally and economically sustainable?  Many company executives see green initiatives as a financial burden that are only pursued out of good will.   Some environmental projects require large initial investments or involve changing the structure of an operation.  However, many initiatives that reduce the environmental impacts of products also reduce costs for businesses and improve their bottom line.  At the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) conference titled “Greening the Supply Chain: Best Business Practices and Future Trends” on Thursday, April 26, many strategies were presented by various companies that have improved both their environmental and economic sustainability.

Successes in Improving Environmental and Economic Sustainability

One of the first speakers at the conference was Rajat Kapur, the Ecomagination Project Manager at GE.  According to the ecomagination website, “ecomagination is GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth.”  He explained at the conference how GE uses innovation so the company does not need to choose between economics and the environment.  One strategy that they use is Life Cycle Assessment.  It focuses on measuring the environmental impacts of a product over its entire lifecycle. This information is then used to incorporate sustainability into the design of products at the research and development stage.  This strategy benefits environmental and economic sustainability because it incorporates these ideas at the start of the process.

Later, Edwin Keh, a lecturer at Wharton and former COO of WalMart Global Procurement, gave examples from WalMart.  Keh’s team researched product returns at WalMart.  Although returned items may not seem like a focus for improving sustainability, fewer returns could lead to significant benefits because returned products represent a waste of materials, transportation fuel, and shelf space.  WalMart found that some of the most common reasons for returns were that the product was too complicated or the product did not function correctly as the result of a miscommunication.  For example, many consumers returned one product that converted videos from VHS to DVD format because there were too many connector cords to figure out.  A simpler design for this product would have made it easier for the consumer to use and resulted in fewer returns.  Miscommunication was a problem for an inflatable pool toy that consumers returned when it did not float correctly.  This occurred because the product was made at a location that classified it as a toy and did not test for floatation.  Problems such as this can be improved by implementing changes at the research and development stage (to design user-friendly products) and then communicating with those down the supply chain (to ensure proper quality testing procedures).  Solving these types of problems reduces costs, reduces waste, and ultimately makes the company more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Another speaker was Tom Carpenter from International Paper, who spoke about strategies used by his company to make transportation more efficient.  Many people first think of improved fuel efficiency to improve transportation, but the more effective strategies are to decrease the number of miles traveled, alter the modes of transportation used, and increase the utilization of capacity (by volume and weight).  International Paper, for example, fills their trucks to the maximum capacity allowed by law and uses rail over truck whenever possible because of increased efficiency.  Increasing the transportation efficiency in a business reduces fuel costs and emits fewer carbon emissions into the atmosphere, making it a strategy that benefits both environmental and economic sustainability.

Challenges and Future Outlook

There are various strategies for businesses to become more environmentally sustainable and support their bottom line by focusing on the supply chain.  However, it was said several times throughout the conference that current actions primarily focus on “low-hanging fruit.”  What does this mean for the future?  When the more easily improved aspects of a supply chain are already addressed, greening the supply chain may become more difficult.  I suspect that many of these changes will require greater structural changes, greater amounts of initial investment, and ideas that may not seem as obviously beneficial and will face more resistance to become implemented.

At the same time, however, green businesses are becoming more of a mainstream concept that is desired by both businesses and consumers.  As a result, greening businesses will become easier in some ways.  Alice Henley of the NRDC explained how greening sports events is an important way to spread sustainability because it infiltrates sustainable ideas into mainstream American culture.  Although there will be challenges to make businesses more environmentally and economically sustainable, I believe that it will continue to be done in many sectors, especially as consumers demand it more. Have you heard of particularly interesting ways that businesses have become more sustainable?  What are the biggest challenges for businesses?  Post your comments below!