Playing Greener on Your Campus

The Green Sports Alliance leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where people live and play.

The Alliance inspires professional sports leagues, college conferences, sports governing bodies, colleges, teams, venues, their partners, and millions of fans to embrace renewable energy, healthy food, recycling, water efficiency, safer chemicals, and other environmentally preferable practices. Alliance members represent nearly 500 sports teams and venues from 15 sports leagues in 14 countries, with over three dozen public and private universities committed to PLAY GREENER.

Bringing Together Venue Operators Since 2010

Since February of 2010, the Alliance has brought together venue operators, sports team executives, and environmental scientists to exchange information about better practices and develop solutions to their environmental challenges that are cost-competitive and innovative.

The information gathered from this collaboration is available to Alliance members in order that they gain a better understanding of how sporting events can be performed in an environmentally sensitive manner. The Green Sports Alliance was conceived and founded by the Seattle Seahawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Storm, Vancouver Canucks and the Natural Resources Defense Council with support from Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Green Building Services, and Milepost Consulting.

The Alliance Toolkit

As the leading membership network focused on the sports greening movement, Alliance members have exclusive access to a network of similar sporting organizations (whether amateur, collegiate, or professional) who understand the complexities of the sporting landscape and can share best practices accordingly. The Alliance provides members with an exclusive toolkit, featuring assets such as our playbooks, convenings, case studies, and monthly webinars, that guide members through the everyday challenges in sports, sustainability, and ever thing in between.

In addition to robust dialogue, our exclusive toolkit, and networking with peers, members of the Alliance have unique access to the Alliance’s Corporate Members Network: a vetted group of nearly 50 private sector partners who have committed to PLAY GREENER and to support the Alliance’s members in achieving their sustainability goals.

Providing Support to Campuses

With a strategic shift towards Collegiate Athletics, the Green Sports Alliance (and our industry stakeholders) are providing ever-evolving support to our friends on campuses across North America. With the guidance from industry leaders like Ray Anderson-Athletic Director of Arizona State University-and Dave Newport, Director, Environmental Center for University of Colorado, Boulder-the Alliance has crafted a service strategy for universities around three main objectives.

We have been making the case for sustainable sports on campus. The business case includes working with rights holders and new revenue streams through sustainability, as well as cost savings and improved venue/operational management. Additionally, the case can be made for improved fan and student engagement through three connections: student and student-athlete programs for professional development, community-driven engagement activation support, and alumni and stakeholder relationship development.

The Three Pillars Activated in Unique University Environments

The Green Sports Alliance specializes in ensuring these three pillars are individually activated around your unique university environment-understanding that every campus is a special place. Don’t just take our word for it. Read on to learn more about the great strides some member universities are making in the sports greening movement.

University of Southern California: The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum adopted a goal of zero waste in the fall of 2015, moving all waste to compostable or recyclable items. In the first season, the program increased the diversion rate by 65%. Their successes were showcased this past December when the Coliseum and USC team achieved zero-waste at a game between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals.

University of Pennsylvania: Built in 1967, Sheerr Pool (UPenn Aquatics) reflects that older era of technology. But it’s been updated with a variable frequency drive (VFD) that can dramatically reduce the operation of the pool pump and save money. The unit cost approximately $10,000, but will save more than that in its first year of operation, making a payback period of just 9.5 months.

Stanford University: In a 2016 conversation with Athletic Director Bernard Muir, some key components of Stanford Athletics’ green initiatives were highlighted. Muir said, “The department recently completed energy efficiency projects -the installation of new HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems-in five buildings: Maples Pavilion, Avery Aquatic Center, Stanford Stadium, Burnham Pavilion and the Arrillaga Center for Sports and Recreation. Thanks to those projects, we have significantly reduced energy consumption and are now paying substantially less in energy bills.”

Yale University: Athletics play a significant role in higher education at Yale and is a point of pride for Bulldogs old and new. Yale’s athletic programs present incredible challenges and opportunities for the practice and promotion of sustainability. Bulldog Sustainability is a student branch of the Yale Office of Sustainability and Department of Athletics. The team of students serves as an effective platform for environmental education by equipping sports teams and fans with the knowledge and skills to play and live more sustainably. The group also functions as an in-the-field operations team that works on improving waste management at Yale’s sporting events and athletic facilities.

The Pac-12 Conference: The Alliance serves as the convener of sports and sustainability and provides various avenues by which collegiate athletics can learn from one another. For example, the Pac-12 Conference is the first and only athletic conference to have all of its member institutions as Green Sports Alliance members, and serves as the prime model of how collaboration across a conference can promote innovation. What started as a series of conference calls for Pac-12 campus sustainability representatives has grown to a multi-faceted relationship between the Pac-12 office, member institutions, and the Green Sports Alliance.

This relationship included the first and only conference-focused zero waste competitions for football and basketball, and the first event hosted by an athletic conference focused on integrating sustainability and collegiate athletics. The Pac-12 conference demonstrates the power of sustainability and collegiate athletics, and the Alliance will continue to support athletic conferences that seek to develop programming that supports their member institutions.

About the Author
Rahul Devaskar is the Membership Manager at the Green Sports Alliance. Contact Devaskar to schedule an introductory call to learn how Alliance Membership can help your school achieve your own sports greening success stories. Email Devaskar at or call 503.278.3459.