OFF-CAMPUS PARTNERS TO PRIORITIZE
A successful sports greening program requires support from a diverse range of off-campus partners. When first starting out, there are a few off-campus partners that you should prioritize. Below is a list of the off-campus partners to focus on with brief explanations of why they’re important for building a strong sports greening program.
As the organizational structure of these partners vary significantly from campus to campus, the following is only an example of potential off-campus sports greening partners (for some campuses these partners will be on campus).
Concessionaire (& Other Suppliers) – The athletics concessionaire is often responsible for many food, beverage, serviceware, and cleaning equipment procurement decisions for sports venues on campus that host large sports events. Meet with the concessionaire and any other food and beverage suppliers to discuss greener procurement options and establishing a department-wide purchasing policy. It’s essential to coordinate procurement plans with waste management operations (for example, prioritize purchasing packaging that you have confirmed can be recycled or composted by your waste partners in order to divert this waste from landfill and improve your waste management program).
Waste Hauler (& Material Recovery Facility/Composter) – All waste partners should be closely involved in enhanced waste management plans at athletics and recreation facilities. Meet with all waste partners to discuss opportunities to increase recycling and composting rates across all sports facilities. These partners will have specific information on your current waste stream and hauling practices and should be able to help identify opportunities for improvement.
Media Partners – The athletics departments’ media partners will likely have the greatest insight into branding and sponsorship opportunities presented by the sports greening initiatives. Meet with these partners to discuss ways to integrate environmental messaging into the athletics department’s outreach materials and strategize about ways to showcase environmental accomplishments as part of the athletics and institutional identity.
Apparel, Beverage & Other Sponsors – If possible, establish a department-wide purchasing policy to encourage sustainable purchasing practices across all sports facilities that covers a wide range of products and services. Communicate this policy and all other environmental commitments to all sponsors and arrange meetings to discuss opportunities to collaborate on environmental initiatives.
The following sections provide additional advice for how to engage representatives from these off-campus groups.
ENLIST SPONSORS, VENDORS AND OTHER PARTNERS IN SPORTS GREENING EFFORTS
Engage external groups early on and strategically to take advantage of all available expertise and funding when planning your sports greening efforts. Inform existing and potential partners of plans for new greening initiatives. Welcome input from strategically selected vendors, sponsors, nonprofits, and local organizations that may have greening expertise and resources.
Communicate your financial limits and environmental priorities. Clarify why changes are being considered, how partners might provide support, and what results are expected. Identify and exploit opportunities for joint benefits and outreach.
Encourage the development of new sponsorships around greening. Greening can broaden sponsorship opportunities with existing or new partners who want to affiliate with your goals of environmental stewardship. Involving sponsors and vendors can provide financial, organizational, and media support for your goals. These partners may bring funding, advertisements, infrastructure, and products to your greening effort.
Consider using a competitive bidding process to solicit innovative proposals from concessionaires and other vendors, encouraging them to bolster their proposals with greener features. Also consider working with marketing staff to improve the fan experience as part of greening efforts. Involving your sponsors, vendors, and local NGOs sends a valuable signal to the marketplace and your community that environmental issues are important to your institution.
Including environmental language in requests for proposals and contracts increases the likelihood that your department’s procurement goals will be met by your vendors.
Consider incorporating the general language below into new contracts and requests for proposals. The EPA Purchasing Database is also an excellent source for specific product and service categories. Visit the Suppliers section of this guide for more advice regarding vendors.
GENERAL CONTRACT LANGUAGE
[Our department/institution] has adopted an environmental policy to improve our environmental performance. To further these goals, products and services contracted for by the department will be evaluated in part based on their environmental attributes. Specific factors to be considered include:
- gas emissions
- Habitat impacts
- Regulatory compliance
- Recycled content
- Energy efficiency
- Water efficiency
- Toxic chemical reduction
Please address these concerns when submitting your proposals.
Including language related to environmental concerns in contracts helps solidify your department’s commitment to ecological progress and can lay the groundwork for positive vendor involvement in your environmental initiative. Every institution that requests environmentally preferable products from its suppliers sends a signal that these kinds of requests are valued.
Environmentally intelligent contract language can incorporate a wide range of environmental objectives. There are many possibilities. For example:
- A contract with an advertiser at a sports facility could specify or encourage that all advertisements be printed on recycled paper.
- A contract with a food delivery service could specify that it will use fuel efficient vehicles and purchase carbon credits to offset total vehicle miles traveled.
- A contract with a food vendor could include provisions for giving priority to local suppliers and for composting food waste.
Sponsors and other corporate partners can provide assistance in greening your athletics department’s operations. Greening your department’s operations may lead to sponsorship opportunities with existing or new partners that share your goals of environmental stewardship. In addition, collaboration with sponsors can also foster a greater knowledge of your organization’s efforts in the community.
Consider contacting sponsors to inform them of your department’s efforts to enhance its environmental performance, and to see what role they might be able to play in advancing your goals. Also consider that these issues may already be important to some sponsors, and this guide could be usefully adapted by your sponsors for their own practices. As a result of this work, sponsors may be willing to investigate the environmental impacts of their own products.
When involving sponsors, start small, and focus on promoting a greater awareness of environmental concerns. Small steps are important. They create awareness, change attitudes, and can start a company on along a more environmentally responsible path. Visit the Sponsors and Suppliers sections of this guide for more advice regarding vendors.
SAMPLE LETTER TO SPONSORS
[Our athletics department/institution] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. As a sponsor of [our department/institution], we would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail.
The awareness and involvement of our sponsors can play an important role in advancing and publicizing our efforts. We would also be interested to hear about your own efforts to improve environmental performance. We look forward to collaborating with you on environmental stewardship for the benefit of the broader community and our mutual organizational messaging/branding.
Please call me as soon as you can so that we can set a time for a meeting to pursue this discussion.
Involving sponsors can provide financial and organizational support to your environmental efforts. Sponsors may bring revenue, advertisements, and products, such as sports equipment and apparel, to your greening effort. Also talk with your sponsors about providing recycling containers or other environmental services to your facility.
Involving sponsors is important not just because of the publicity benefits that it offers. Sponsor involvement can help move the marketplace towards more sustainable behavior. Involving your sponsors sends a valuable signal to the corporate world that environmental issues are important to your institution.