MLB’s Seattle Mariners, the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers have joined three other professional teams in founding an organization to reduce sports’ impact on the environment.
The Green Sports Alliance (GSA) also includes the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and MLS’s Seattle Sounders FC, giving the organization representatives from six major sports leagues. Backers hope to expand the alliance across North America.
Alliance members are working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Portland State University to identify and adopt environmental initiatives, and share information about ways to measure and reduce their environmental impact.
Members will submit quarterly reports sharing results on their greening initiatives. The GSA will aggregate results across teams and report annually on collective progress.
The EPA, NRDC and many of the parent leagues have endorsed the alliance, which encompasses the teams’ sporting facilities: Portland’s Rose Garden, Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, and Seattle’s Safeco Field, Qwest Field, Qwest Field Event Center and KeyArena at Seattle Center.
The GSA will encourage all teams and venues to measure their environmental impacts and seek ways to reduce them. It urges organizations to reduce energy and carbon emissions, conserve water, increase recycling, and promote renewable energy and alternative transportation policies.
Teams and venues are also encouraged to promote their greening initiatives throughout their respective leagues and surrounding communities.
GSA will be headquartered in Portland and led by executive director Martin Tull. The organization is planning a conference, the Green Sports Summit, to bring together facility managers, event producers and marketing directors with environmental leaders such as NRDC to share best practices and discuss opportunities and challenges the teams face
The first Green Sports Summit is scheduled for August 2011 in Portland.
“The founding members of the Green Sports Alliance have already implemented programs and policies that have significantly reduced their environmental impact and enhanced the experience for fans,” Tull said. “We look forward to expanding the Alliance to include teams and venues across North America so that we can help each other reduce our environmental footprint and create positive change in our communities.”
Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB), said: “Major League Baseball applauds the leadership shown by the Seattle Mariners’ environmental efforts… We support all the members of the professional sports community working to advance this important cause and wish the Green Sports Alliance the best of success.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said: “The NFL is proud to support the greening efforts of the Seattle Seahawks… Enhancing the sustainability of professional sports is a worthy goal, and we wish the Green Sports Alliance great success.”
Other teams and venues that have introduced environmental practices include the New York Jets and Giants, the Staples Center, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Phoenix Suns, and England’s Manchester United FC.
Last April Major League Baseball announced it had adopted a program under which all 30 clubs will begin collecting and analyzing stadium operations data.
Eighty percent of North American professional sports teams plan to increase their environmental sustainability programs, according to a survey of more than 50 pro teams by ProGreenSports.