Nature Conservancy

The Green Teams Part IV

I’ve been talking about energy efficiency in professional sports for a while now and I realize how little I knew about any of it until recently. I was aware of the NBA’s Green Week and the 49ers efficient new stadium, but I never would have guessed the extent of the industry’s green achievements unless I really wanted to look into it. So I guess it’s a good thing I was curious about this and have an outlet to share my exciting findings with the world!!

As you’ve all learned by now, the NRDC put together a massive report about all things good and green in the sports industry, but they’ve also played quite the hand in helping the various teams, leagues and venues they highlight in the report develop green websites, events and initiatives.

The NRDC, with the NHL, launched a green website, designed to advertise the League’s green events (such as developing community gardens), promote green living tips and announce NHL green contributions (like their donation of 1,600 trees in May 2013 to The Nature Conservancy). The NHL and NRDC have collaborated numerous times to ensure hockey fans around the country are aware of environmental issues and initiatives. 2010 Winter Classic spectators even attended a panel discussion about how going green can benefit the economy.

The NHL’s green initiatives are vast, impressive and encouraging. Tickets are printed on recycled paper; unsold food is given to the Rock and Wrap It Up! Initiative to fight poverty; free public transportation passes are available to ticket holders. The list goes on. As shown in the PSA below, hockey players need ice to play their game and the ice in this world is quickly disappearing. Let’s change that. Let’s keep hockey around. I know I’m not the only who wants that.

I can’t express how awesome I think it is that such a huge, energy-sucking, wasteful industry (before you get mad at me for saying that, think about it for a second) is making major moves to cut its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and landfills. Their accomplishments have been so great that they’re starting to rub off on college sports, too!

Photo Source: FaceBook
 NCAA’s March Madness now not only has a sustainability committee for the Final Four (pages 32-34), but eligible schools can compete in the Environmental March Madness Tournament, which compares and assesses environmental degree programs, green job and event opportunities and on- and off-campus efforts to build a sustainable surrounding community. A National Champion is selected after three rounds of judging: the Finest Four is picked from the Environmental Eight, which is picked from the Sustainable Sixteen. I got to see 2013's Environmental March Madness National Champion, the Ohio State Buckeyes, at LA’s Staples Center for both their Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight Games. Wichita State may have knocked OSU out of the basketball part of the competition, but the Shockers weren’t ready for the Buckeyes’ environmental domination!

This is great for NCAA basketball, but hopefully there will be more green efforts in college sports as a whole. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conducted a sustainability survey for NCAA athletic departments and while some responses are encouraging, others are not. There is definitely room for improvement, but the important thing is that environmentally responsible endeavors have begun. All in all, as both an energy efficiency enthusiast and a major sports fan, I feel great about where the sports industry is headed and what we will see in the near future.

Reduce your carbon footprint, just $940

Cruising through Twitter, I stumbled on a tweet from Mark Grossi, a former coworker at the Fresno Bee who has the environmental beat.

Grossi's tweet asked, "How big is your carbon footprint?" Intrigued, I clicked on the site. Nature Conservancy.

So far, so good. I took the bait, entered the information for a four-person household, three-bedroom home in California. The brief survey asked questions about heat and home efficiency, lighting, use of Energy Star appliances and measures taken to reduce hot water use.

Not the most illuminating. But, I guess, not bad.

The survey also asked for a list of our cars, how fuel efficient they were and how many miles driven in a year. Other questions included how often an air filter on the furnace/AC was replaced and how often tire pressure is monitored.

The final question boosted my family's footprint. We took the equivalent of six short flights in the past year. Peg and I went to Vegas, she and I to Bellingham, Wash. to visit our latest grandchild and she and Calvin, our oldest son, went to check out two colleges in Seattle.

And I plan to fly back after dumping him off at Seattle University this fall.

In total, and perhaps a little short, our footprint amounted to 47 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Not bad when compared with the U.S. average of 110 tons, but it's more than twice the world average of 22 tons for a family of four.

And we do pretty decently. I insulated my floor last winter. I've installed double-pane windows with coatings to reduce the sun's rays during hot summer days. I have all Energy Star appliances, and I just cleaned the dust from the fridge's cooling coils. They get nasty by the way.

My electric bill was $200 in June. Not great but I know people who would kill for one so low in our super-heated San Joaquin Valley.

And I'm always on the lookout for more things I can do. This encouraged me to click on the "Offset your carbon footprint" link.

I expected tips on insulating, driving less, riding bikes, maybe purchasing pieces of the Rain Forest.

What you get is a pitch: "Offset your footprint with The Nature Conservancy, you'll help protect land, plant trees and sequester carbon over the next 70 years. Your tax-deductible gift will make a difference for our lives, our environment and future generations."

Cost: $940.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. The Nature Conservancy is a worthy organization, deserving of donations.

But I envisioned a more mathematically precise calculation. I'll have to keep working on that.