By Rachel Leber
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Green Sports Alliance (GSA) is hosting their 7th annual Summit in Sacramento this year at the LEED Platinum-certified Golden 1 Center, a venue that’s powered entirely by renewable energy. The dates of this year’s Green Sports Alliance Summit are June 27-29, with a theme of “Play Greener: Engaging Fans, Athletes & Communities.” The focus of the event is to mobilize GSA members and partners to bring about positive environmental and social impact across their fan-base and surrounding communities.
The GSA’s first annual Summit was inspired in 2011 when they recognized a need for industry stakeholders — teams, leagues, stadiums, corporate partners, NGOs — to convene around the sports greening movement. The event started off with less than 100 individuals and has progressively grown each consecutive year following.
The GSA realized that sports events and athletes reach millions of viewers each year and attract thousands of fans to every game, which means teams and athletes have a lot of reach and influence in being able to pass on the sustainability message. “This year’s conference is going to be the best yet with hundreds of attendees, 50 exhibitors, keynotes from Bill Walton, [Sacramento] Mayor Darryl Steinberg, an athlete panel, and more,” said Kelley Martin, director of operations at GSA.
With a theme of “Play Greener,” this year’s summit aims to accelerate fan engagement, educate youth on sustainability through sports and leverage the $485 billion sports industry to tackle energy, waste, water, food, transportation and other sustainability issues in sports. Olympians Mary Harvey and Jill Savery, Hall of Famers Bill Walton and Peter “PT” Townend, NASCAR stars Joey McColm and Julia Landauer, and numerous other athletes supporting the cause will share the stage with Yankees Vice President of Operations Doug Behar, Mercedes-Benz Stadium General Manager Scott Jenkins, Arizona State Athletic Director Ray Anderson and other team executives who lead the way in greening sports venues.
In addition to the event’s overall goal to support and promote green and sustainable objectives, the venue and the event itself are environmentally sustainable, making the Golden 1 Center a natural choice for the Summit. Not only does it use 100 percent renewable energy from solar panels on the arena roof and electricity sourced from the Rancho Seco Solar Array, it is the first indoor professional sports arena in the world to earn LEED Platinum certification. Additionally, the Golden 1 Center has low-flow water recapture systems.
The summit itself will be a zero-waste event, as the Green Sports Alliance and TerraCycle have teamed up to recycle all cafeteria waste used at the summit. Additionally, the executive chef and restaurant partners for the event source 90 percent of their ingredients from a 150-mile radius, as well as the majority of the beer, wine and spirits being sourced within 150 miles. All leftover, edible food from the event will be given to Sacramento Community Food Bank and Family Services through the GSA’s “Second That” program, which supports over 200 local agencies.
California Safe Soil will treat any remaining waste from the event with organic enzymes and process all in a giant food digester. The waste will be “digested” and then pasteurized, filtered and put back into the soil at local farms once complete. Finally, any leftover fryer oil — locally produced rice bran oil — will be converted to biodiesel by a local, family-run business.
“There’s no way around it — any event, be it playoff game, major conference, or even a corporate dinner, has an environmental price to pay,” said Justin Zeulner, executive director of GSA. “We’re grateful for the generosity of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, one of the Alliance’s founding partners in helping us mitigate that. We are working closely together to calculate and balance our environmental footprint in three crucial areas: water use, greenhouse gas emissions and electricity.”