Green Sports Alliance

Posted on September 22, 2016 • Category: Community Involvement

By Zackary Moran-Norris

Arizona sports teams associated with the Green Sports Alliance are having a growing influence in the effort to promote sustainable communities throughout the state.

The Green Sports Alliance is a worldwide union of over 300 professional and collegiate sports teams and venues that promote renewable energy, recycling and other innovative strategies that benefit the environment.

The Phoenix Suns, Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Coyotes, University of Arizona Wildcats and the Arizona State University Sun Devils are all members of the nonprofit alliance.

Since the launch of the Alliance in 2011, the Diamondbacks have particularly made it a point to leverage the influence of baseball to make an impact in the local community.

“There’s a social responsibility that comes along with being a major league baseball franchise, so we looked at it as a unbelievable opportunity to be a model to our fans in the community,” said Graham Rossini, the Diamondback’s vice president of special projects and fan experience.

Uniforms worn by each concessions staff member and all paper products used at Chase Field are made of recycled material. Over the past two seasons, the D-Backs have also donated over 12 tons of unused food to the Phoenix community.

The franchise partnered with APS in 2011 to create the APS Solar Pavilion, a solar shade structure that produces enough solar energy to power the lights at Chase Field for 11 home games and offset 15 percent of the team’s usage.

“We’re in the warmest desert in North America, we do have finite natural resources - so we have to be mindful of the dynamic of living in the desert and conserving our resources,” Rossini said.

Rossini also said that the team has been playing an active role in Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s goal of diverting 40 percent of trash from landfill by 2020.

“Based on the volume and number of games we play over the course of the season, we’re attractive to a lot of those initiatives because we have the scope and scale to get these initiatives off the ground,” he said.

But professional sports franchises are not the only ones looking to make a difference.

Tim Trefzer, a member of the Green Sports Alliance and an instructor at ASU’s school of sustainability, said that collegiate sports teams are beginning to play a bigger part in the green sports movement.

“Schools and teams are both taking a stronger look at the influence they have on their attendees and fans,” Trefzer said. “They’re realizing that they have captive audiences where they can get unique messages across.”

The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USG Corporation recently honored ASU with the 2016 sustainability award for its renovations on Sun Devil Stadium and the Weatherup Center.

A seven-member committee of athletics directors and representatives selected ASU from three finalists.

The stadium includes sustainably sourced FSC-certified wood, organic compound interior materials and low-flow plumbing fixtures for more efficient water consumption. The overhaul of the stadium also included a commitment to convert at least 75 percent of construction waste from landfill.

ASU’s Weatherup Center features a 138-kilowatt photovoltaic system that powers nearly half of the facility with solar power. 65 percent of construction waste was recycled during the construction of the 49,000 square foot LEED Gold Certified building.

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