The Future of Sports Is Sustainable.

The Future of Sports Is Sustainable ...


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Sports organizations have started to explore how to address the environmental impact of their events.
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As the world continues to celebrate the return of live sports, we are reminded of the powerful role that sports have historically played as a source of inspiration, joy, and community for people all around the globe. The athletes and teams we support are woven into the fabric of our cultures, and, as such, they have a platform to inspire action outside the lines of their field or court. In recent years, sports organizations at both the professional and collegiate level have started to explore how to address the environmental impact of their events, ensure they are contributing to a more sustainable future for our planet, and use their platform to set an example for the rest of us to follow.

The resulting initiatives demonstrate a growing focus on sustainability in sports:

  • The Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) of America has taken a variety of steps to reduce their ecological footprint, including holding zero waste events, partnering with recycling vendors, and financing more efficient infrastructure at its golf courses. 
  • Last spring’s National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) March Madness tournament in Indianapolis was carbon neutral, saving 5,000 tons of greenhouse gases from being emitted.
  • The National Football League (NFL) has introduced its own sustainability initiative known as NFL Green to "mitigate the environmental impact of the NFL's major events and create a ‘green’ legacy in each community that hosts [the] Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, and the NFL Draft.”
  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) has partnered with the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) to create NBA Green, an initiative to generate awareness and funds for protecting the environment.

“One of our organizational philosophies (we call them ISMs) is to 'Do the Right Thing,' which encompasses a way of doing business that focuses on our responsibility to be responsible. We are conscientious in making decisions and developing initiatives and practices that positively impact all of our stakeholders, employees, fans and our community, as well as our environment.  Promoting and supporting sustainability is central to the well-being of every member of the team and we’re always looking for opportunities to make our operations a little greener.”

- Michael Lathrop, Facilities Architect for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

It is clear that organizations across the sports landscape are prioritizing environmental goals, and, in an effort to help further this mission, the Green Sports Alliance is launching its new PLAY to Zero program.

Why Zero?

Before exploring the PLAY to Zero initiative in more detail, it is important to first understand the significance of the “zero” here. Net zero emissions occurs when there is balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and emissions removed, or sequestered, from the atmosphere. As the most prominent greenhouse gas emitted and the largest contributor to climate change, carbon dioxide is the primary target when it comes to emissions reduction strategies and net zero initiatives.

The PLAY to Zero Initiative

With that in mind, PLAY to Zero is a new initiative developed by the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) rooted in Arc technology that is designed to spur progress toward net zero carbon emissions in the sports industry. PLAY to Zero (PLAY) will provide sports-specific tools that help venues, teams, and leagues benchmark their performance in sustainability, compare this performance to others, and track their progress over time.

By revealing opportunities for improvement, PLAY will encourage advancements toward net zero pathways, identify new strategies for sustainability, and share achievements in the industry. Furthermore, PLAY will use performance scores to recognize sustainability leadership and help participants that are doing well attract sponsorships, fans, and communities.

Here’s how venues, teams, and leagues can each utilize PLAY

  • VenuesSports venue managers can set up projects in Arc where users are able to enter, upload, or link data on energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience within the venue. The Arc system will then calculate and display key performance metrics, which will be customized as PLAY develops.
  • TeamsOrganizations can quickly create and populate portfolios representing the full range of facilities within the Arc program. This can include headquarters, offices, training facilities, venues, or other spaces, and can span whole buildings or just specific areas. The program provides the ability to assign projects to one or more portfolios and then track team-wide performance or examine metrics for individual facilities as well.
  • LeaguesTogether, the portfolios of venues and teams make league portfolios. Existing Arc tools allow comparisons to be made across portfolios, helping to identify leadership and plans for improvement.

How Can You PLAY to Zero?

If your venue, team, or league is interested in the PLAY to Zero initiative, you can login or create an account here to start tracking your progress today. You can also register here to stay connected, join the conversation, and learn how PLAY can accelerate your journey to net zero. By becoming a PLAY participant, you can demonstrate your organization’s leadership on environmental issues and commitment to making the world a more sustainable place for all of us. 

Even if you are not affiliated with the sports industry, your organization can Play to Zero by leveraging Arc's tools to benchmark performance, track environmental impact, and ensure your actions are contributing to a more sustainable world. 

If you're interested in reaching Zero, we can help!

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