Events > Greener Event Examples

University of Oregon: U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials

In 2008, the University of Oregon hosted the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field, then did so again in 2012. Thanks to the Ducks’ leadership, both events are among the most environmentally responsible sporting events in the United States, with the 2008 event earning the International Olympic Committee’s Sport and Environment Award and the 2012 event earning Gold level certification from the Council for Responsible Sport.

The Oregon athletics department worked with the city of Eugene and TrackTown USA (a local organization devoted to track and field events in Eugene), along with a collection of campus partners (including the facilities and transportation departments), to plan energy use, waste management, and transportation for the events. 227,123 people attended the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field, which spanned 20 acres and 10 days.

Below are some of the greening accomplishments:

  • The event team purchased 122,000 kilowatt-hours worth of Green-e certified renewable power through the local utility, EWEB, to cover 100 percent of the event’s energy needs.

  • 78 percent (133 tons) of event waste was recycled or composted, including waste from build-out and tear-down.

  • 100 percent of serviceware was compostable.

  • Additional electric infrastructure was extended to eliminate mobile generators.

  • Free bus tickets were provided to ticket holders, resulting in 7,744 boardings—a 29 percent increase from 2008.

  • BP America-Target Neutral provided carbon offsets for the 2,732 tons of CO2 emissions produced by the event operations and all athletes’ and officials’ air travel.

  • A free valet station serviced 4,575 bikes.

  • Water stations were positioned around the festival to encourage the use of refillable water bottles.

  • Of the 17,456 square feet of plywood used, more than 70 percent was reclaimed after the event.

  • Over 1,800 people volunteered over 48,000 hours, 1,000 free tickets were provided to youth and families that otherwise could not attend, the free fan festival hosted over 5,000 people daily, and over 8,000 youth participated in the Run!Jump!Throw! activity station. 

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

University of Arizona: UA Homecoming

The UA is among the first colleges or universities to use aspects of a life cycle analysis (LCA) approach to assess the environmental impacts of a so-called “mega” event like their annual Homecoming. With over 60,000 attendees over three days, Homecoming is the UA’s largest long-running annual event, offering a unique opportunity to engage students, employees, and alumni in sustainability.

In 2012, the UA used LCA methodology to evaluate some of the environmental impacts associated with attendee travel and accommodations, 25 major events, game-day festivities, and the football game, with the goal of understanding how to reduce impacts of homecoming and other large UA events as well as developing a transferable assessment method.

For this project, the UA Office of Sustainability and several campus departments assembled a team dedicated to collecting and analyzing some of the available environmental impacts data related to Homecoming. This team included a graduate assistant, two NASA Space Grant undergraduate interns, and four engineering management undergraduates.

This team worked to evaluate some of the environmental data associated with the raw material extraction, material processing, manufacturing, assembly, transportation, product use, and end of life for the products used during Homecoming with the “SimaPro LCA Software” system. The team used LCA methodology based on EPA’s Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts (TRACI). On game day and throughout the weekend, 120 honors students collected data from attendees at a diverse array of events.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

National Collegiate Athletics Association: Men’s Final Four® Basketball Tournament

In the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), 400,000 student-athletes participate in 23 sports each year with 89 national championship events, and millions follow NCAA events. In 2011, for the first time in the history of the Men’s Final Four® basketball tournament, the NCAA formed a committee to integrate ecologically intelligent practices into the event’s planning and production. NRDC was asked to join as a founding member of the NCAA Final Four® Sustainability Committee, teaming up with LG Electronics, Waste Management, Inc., Reliant Park, the city of Houston, and the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Some of the 2011 greening accomplishments include:

  • A sustainability performance assessment to gauge current sustainability practices at the 2011 Final Four® venues in Houston, identify opportunities for improvement, and establish benchmarks against which to measure achievements.

  • 600 newly installed recycling bins and the JumboTron messages reminding people to recycle.

  • Programs were made with 30 percent postconsumer recycled content and FSC-certified fiber.

  • 100 percent of the energy used by the LEED Silver-certified George R. Brown Convention Center was supplied with wind power, thanks to support from the city of Houston.

  • At Reliant Stadium, the committee purchased carbon offsets from wind and solar power projects from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, resulting in avoided global warming emissions totaling 210 U.S. tons in CO2 equivalents, representing about 509,000 auto miles.

In 2012, the additional NCAA Final Four® greening initiatives included:

  • A new educational outreach event called “Greening the Hospitality Zone.” The 2012 NCAA Final Four® Sustainability Committee invited representatives of the hospitality industry to attend this event to share greening strategies, discuss ecotourism, and promote more sustainable practices in the hospitality industry.

  • In March 2012, LG Electronics continued the e-recycling project developed the previous year in Houston, allowing New Orleans area residents to drop off electronic waste for recycling at the tournament venue, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

In 2013, the additional NCAA Final Four® greening initiatives included:

  • Recycling infrastructure at all event venues.

  • A community electronics recycling event at the Georgia Dome.

  • A clothing donation drive, repurposing all Final Four banners to create event memorabilia.

  • Obtaining paper and plastic materials made with postconsumer recycled content.

  • Reusing or recycling the Final Four® basketball courts.

  • Partnering with Atlanta’s public transit agency to encourage fans to use public transit.

  • Providing a free bike valet service for those cycling to the event.

  • Planting 75 trees in two Atlanta neighborhoods in honor of the tournament’s 75th anniversary.

  • The NCAA purchased renewable energy credits (RECs), predominantly from wind and solar farms in the Southeast, to offset 100 percent of the electricity used to power the Final Four® games at the Georgia Dome.

  • The 2013 NCAA sustainability committee established partnerships with hotels including the Omni CNN Hotel, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, the Westin Peachtree, the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the Hilton Atlanta, and the Sheraton Atlanta to support and communicate the event’s sustainability initiatives to guests.

  • The committee partnered with eight local restaurants on energy conservation, water conservation, food donation, and composting.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

EXAMPLES OF GREENER PROFESSIONAL SPORTS EVENTS

MLB ALL-STAR GAMES

NRDC has worked with Major League Baseball to green the league’s “jewel events,”, starting with the 2008 All-Star Game events in New York City, including the All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade, the All-Star Concert in Central Park, and the All-Star Game itself at Yankee Stadium. Some green highlights included:

  • All-Star Game events—including Fan Fest, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game–were powered by energy that was obtained from 100% renewable wind power.

  • The All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade featured a first-ever “green” red carpet, which incorporated 100% recycled content and was manufactured with 100% renewable energy.

  • NRDC green team volunteers collected thousands of bottles at the Bon Jovi All-Star Concert in Central Park, which was the largest public event recycling initiative in the history of NYC.

  • MLB also engaged fans by running public service announcements featuring MLB players encouraging attendees to recycle at Yankee Stadium and handing out NRDC ecotips inside reusable bags made from recycled content at All-Star Game events.

Similar efforts continued at the 2009 All-Star Game and 2010 All-Star Game, the 2009 World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, and the 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers. The 2011 All-Star Game, which was held in Phoenix, unveiled a solar pavilion to educate fans about renewable energy, thanks to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chase Field.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

NBA ALL-STAR GAMES

NRDC helped green the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, first by conducting an energy audit of the New Orleans Arena. Other efforts included:

  • Improved the existing recycling program to include plastic bottles and aluminum cans

  • Procured 100% recycled content bathroom tissue at the arena

  • Provided hybrid cars for staff transportation during the event.

The 2009 All-Star Game in Phoenix provided the US Airways Center with a chance to showcase their newly installed solar power system.  The 1,100-panel solar array, spanning 18,000 square feet atop a parking garage at the arena, is capable of generating approximately 332 MW of energy annually, enough to power the US Airways Center for 26 Suns home games—the equivalent of eliminating the release of 44,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. Remaining energy use at the arena for the All Star Game was powered by renewable energy from their utility, and offsets were purchased for energy used by generators.  The event also incorporated a comprehensive recycling program and waste reduction efforts.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

NHL DRAFT, WINTER CLASSIC, ALL-STAR GAME

NRDC has also worked with the NHL to incorporate green practices and procurement into league events, including the 2010 NHL Draft, the 2011 Winter Classic, and the 2011 Al- Star Game.

The 2010 NHL Draft was held in Los Angeles at the STAPLES Center, which boasts many sustainable features such as solar panels, waterless urinals, and a robust recycling program. Additional efforts included:

  • Purchasing Green-e certified carbon offsets for all venue energy use

  • Reducing transportation needs to the venue by hosting the majority of NHL personnel at hotels within walking distance from the STAPLES Center

  • Eliminating most paper collateral from the event by making Media Guides and Year-end Review packets available online only

  • Printing tickets on recycled stock.

The 2011 Winter Classic, held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, included a variety of greening efforts, such as:

  • Purchasing Green-e certified carbon offsets for stadium energy use

  • Eliminating single-use plastic bags and replacing them with 40,000 free reusable commemorative bags available at merchandise stands

  • Recycling all cardboard, bottles, and cans inside the stadium

  • Coordinating the pickup and distribution of prepared but unsold concession food as part of the Rock and Wrap It Up initiative (where Pittsburgh Penguins lead all clubs with 12,000 pounds of food donated as of December 2010)

  • Installing recycling receptacles next to each trash can on streets surrounding Heinz Field to combat the usual amounts of game-day litter and offer an option for recycling (now a season-long initiative)

  • Collecting recyclables at tailgating parties

  • Offering free public transit passes by the Port Authority of Allegheny County (paid for by sponsor Pepsi MAX) to fans traveling to the game

  • Additionally, the Winter Classic’s location in Pittsburgh helped draw attention to the Consol Energy Center—the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins—the first NHL arena to achieve LEED Gold certification.

The 2011 All-Star Game held at RBC Center in Raleigh included similar efforts, including:

  • Purchasing carbon offsets for energy use at the stadium

  • Eliminating single-use plastic bags and replacing them with free reusable commemorative bags at merchandise stands

  • Robust recycling programs both inside and outside the stadium, including tailgate recycling

  • Donating unused prepared food to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

  • The headquarters hotel, Raleigh Marriott City Center, donated unused toiletries, boxed lunches, packaged food and clothing to Raleigh Rescue Mission

  • At the All-Star Open Street Fair, held before the All-Star Game, corporate sponsors Honda and North Carolina State University hosted sustainability booths and educated fans about their recent greening efforts.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

2011 US OPEN

USTA launched its greening effort at the 2008 event, including the tournament’s first plastic bottle and aluminum recycling program, and has continued to make significant improvements each year. The USTA implemented many environmental initiatives during the 2011 US Open:

  • 94 tons of plastic, metal, glass and cardboard were collected throughout the site and recycled

  • 70,000 tennis balls used during the matches and practices were reused by USTA tennis programs or donated to community and youth organizations throughout the country

  • 20,000 pounds of food were donated to local communities

  • Over 50 tons of food waste were collected and turned into compost for landscape and farming uses

  • For the first time, all food serviceware in the Food Village was 100% compostable

  • 985 gallons of food grease were collected for conversion into biodiesel fuel

  • Fans received purchases in the US Open souvenir-style shopping bag designed for reuse

  • 60% of the player and VIP transportation fleet were hybrid vehicles

  • 100% of electricity consumed during the Open was covered by Green-e certified wind renewable energy certificates

  • All paper products used on the grounds–from tickets to napkins—had at least 30% postconsumer content.

To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

ENVIRONMENTAL ACHIEVEMENTS REPORTS

Environmental Achievements of the 79th Academy Awards

Environmental Achievements of the 80th Academy Awards

Environmental Achievements of the 50th Grammy Awards

Sustainability Achievements of the 2011 NCAA Final Four

2008 MLB All Star Game Greening Fact Sheet

2009 MLB All-Star Week Greening Fact Sheet