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On the Ground in Brazil--How Green Was the Cup?

July 9, 2014
In a blog last month, The World Cup Greens Its Goals, GreenWorksGov  promised a follow-up on how well FIFA and the host country, Brazil, met their goals for the greenest World Cup ever.  Our correspondent on the ground, Austin Freeman, dispatched this report of his observations.  Austin is a 2009 graduate of Brown, recently worked at Half the Sky Foundation, which assists orphans in China, and he’s heading to business school at Pepperdine in the fall.  As an undergrad, Austin interned for the California Attorney General’s Office and the Conference of Western Attorneys General.  We are delighted to present his on-site coverage and are most appreciative of his willingness to spend part of his vacation checking out waste bins, etc.  We trust he didn’t miss any exciting minutes of the matches….
Attending a World Cup for the first time in my life was an amazing and unique experience. I met fellow fans from every continent and felt firsthand the raw energy and excitement. Over the course of two weeks, I was fortunate to attend all five games held in Arena Pernambuco in Recife, one of the two stadiums used during the tournament that is fully powered by solar electricity, as well as the USA vs Ghana match in Natal’s Arena das Dunas. 
While this World Cup has been noted for the high goal count and numerous thrilling games, it also stands out as the greenest in the tournament’s history. The millions who travel to host cities are likely to be unaware of the certifications for stadiums and carbon offsets for spectators, but during my time in Brazil, I saw firsthand the eco-efforts taken on the ground. 
With the exception of a Brazilian beer, nothing on the stadium menu, (which included bland hamburgers, cold sandwiches, and bottled sodas), was unique to Brazil. Also, there was no sign of any locally grown organic foods or any types of organic fruits and vegetables. Food quality aside, all of the packaging except the thin wrap on hot food items was recyclable, which was well thought out and praiseworthy. 
Recycling receptacles at the stadiums were prevalent, color coded, and clearly marked with symbols and in multiple languages. However, many fans never discarded their cups because they were customized with that match’s competing countries and made great souvenirs. While the majority of fans left the stadiums in good condition, Japanese fans took it to another level. After their games, they walked through the rows, picking up all trash and leaving the arenas in near spotless condition. 
At Fan Fest, a huge watching area set up by FIFA in downtown Recife, recycling receptacles were significantly harder to find. It seemed that the organizers had not considered the increased waste produced by the crowds. However, the poorer members of the community took advantage of this and continuously combed through the crowd, collecting each beer can for its redemption value. 
Considering the investment FIFA and Brazil have put in to make this World Cup environmentally friendly, I was surprised of the lack of promotion of their successes. I never saw a single ad for the “green passport” cell phone app, which shows fans how to travel around Brazil in an eco-friendly way, and I only learned about it when I returned to the States. During halftime, FIFA touted its fight against match fixing and boasted about its children’s program, but didn’t say a word about our stadium being entirely powered by the sun. 
Despite some shortcomings, the focus put on sustainability efforts at the 2014 World Cup is commendable. According to the Practical Action, a British environmental group, the solar energy generated at Arena Pernambuco and Maracanã in Rio exceeds the national solar energy total of 11 of the 32 competing countries. However, statistics like these demonstrate how much more work there is left to be done around the world during the 1432 days until kickoff of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
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Get Smart about Sustainability

June 25, 2014
Need to brush up on your knowledge about sustainability?  Want to get an MBA that includes green courses?  Or are you interested in free and fee-based courses leading to a certificate in sustainability? 
I was amazed to see the variety of options.  Google “sustainability online course” and you’ll get 7 million hits in a third of a second.  There are lots of free offerings from colleges and universities across the country.  I was impressed by the free, eight week Introduction to Sustainability course beginning in August.  The course is available through Coursera, an educational platform that partners with universities to offer anyone, for free, access to courses.  Their mission is to make a world-class education available to people to help improves their lives. The course will be taught by Jonathan Tomkin, a professor from the University of Illinois. Or consider Climate Change in Four Dimensions beginning July 1 for ten weeks.  This course is co-taught by two professors from UC San Diego.  What a deal!!
If a certificate is more what you’re looking for, you can obtain one from Harvard, through the Extension program, the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, which is an online webinar program, or UCLA’ s Extension program, just to name a few. I found links to dozens of schools offering individual courses and certificates, which can accommodate almost any location and pocket book.
Serious students seeking a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis on sustainability should start with Business Week’s 2012 rankings of top MBA schools for sustainability. The category rankings are updated periodically, but this was issued in 2013 and is the most recent ranking I could find.

All in all, some great stuff! 

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The World Cup Greens Its Goals

June 11, 2014
The World Cup commences in Brazil (Brasil) on June 12 through July 13. The World Cup soccer matches and championship games will attract nearly 4 million spectators from around the world. In keeping with our series on the greening of sports and the opportunity for green office teams to engage sports fans in supporting green practices in the office and on the playing field, GreenWorksGov is spotlighting  the World Cup.
This will be the first time that all 12 host stadiums will be LEED certified, a precedent that the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) will require for all future World Cup sites.  FIFA, the governing organization, was founded in 1904, is based in Zurich, Switzerland, and has 209 member associations.  The World Cup is held once every four years and is the pinnacle series of events for the sport of soccer, known as football everywhere outside the USA and Canada.  It is also the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world.
FIFA and the Brazil Local Organizing Committee(LOC) issued an updated “Sustainability Strategy—Concept” for the World Cup in May 2012 which charts a vision for sustainability and plans for actions and projects that reduce the negative impact and increases the positive impact of the event on society and the environment.  FIFA as an international organization has adopted a strong commitment to sustainability.
Here’s a rundown of what the Brazil LOC has announced.  It’s expected that there will be nearly 60,000 tons of direct carbon emissions and 1.4 million tons of direct and indirect emissions resulting from building the stadiums, accommodations, air travel, and local transit by the tourists attending the games.  The LOC has offset nearly double the number of direct emissions before the games start in donations of carbon credits from sponsors and Brazilian enterprises, the first time for a World Cup event.  Before the end of 2014, the LOC hopes to maximize the mitigation of carbon emissions by encouraging more donations from enterprises.  Donors will receive a “Low Carbon Seal”. 
The championship game of the World Cup will be played in a 100% solar-powered stadium, local foods will be served at stadium sites, and recycling will be emphasized.  Workshops have been held for hotels, bars, and restaurants to promote eco-friendly practices.  In collaboration with the UN Environmental Program, a “Green Passport” for smart phones was launched to encourage fans to practice environmentally friendly tourism. Brazil’s LOC and FIFA anticipate that this World Cup will establish a sustainability benchmark for future host countries.  “We want to score green goals”, declared Environment Minister Isabella Teixeira.
GreenWorksGov has a friend and “volunteer” reporter on the scene at the World Cup who will let us know how Brazil’s implementation fared from a fan’s perspective.  Watch for a guest blog in the coming weeks.

Read more about Brazil’s sustainability plans for the World Cup here and here.

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Tip Your Caps to Major League Baseball and Pitch Winning Green Tips

May 21, 2014
Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the park…we’re talking the great American pastime this week.  Major League Baseball (MLB) was the first professional sports organization to team up with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to plan a league greening initiative on sustainable stadium operations and team practices.  The MLB Greening Advisor was the first toolkit developed to help a sports organization adopt eco-intelligent practices.  It’s been customized since for many other sports and playing facilities.  Today, solar systems have been installed at five parks where the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox teams play.  Beginning in 2010, the MLB has collected data from league teams to track their successes.
A new LED scoreboard saves the Seattle Mariners over $50,000 a year in electricity costs, qualifies them for a sizable rebate from the utility and lowered their electricity consumption by 90%. The Washington Nationals play in a LEED certified stadium and divert 80% of waste items from landfill.  MLB’s “jewel” events—the All Star Game and the World Series – are where the organization plays up its green initiatives by highly visible activities such as running public service announcements featuring MLB players encouraging attendees to recycle, using volunteers to recycle at the stadium and handing out NRDC EcoTips with reusable bags made from recycled content at All-Star Game events. 
GreenWorksGov has written two previous blogs this year about the NRDC’s partnership with professional sports organizations to adopt more environmentally responsible practices across their operations from the stadiums and arenas to the concessions and waste management.  Even the front offices are included.  Head to any professional sports league website and you’ll find lots of information about what that league is doing to go green.  In a recent blog, we focused on what the National Basketball Association (NBA) has accomplished.

Seasonally, we will feature a sport.  What do sports have to do with green office teams?  In short, 61% of all Americans profess to be sports fans.  By making the connection  with your employees about what the sports world is doing to go green in a big way, your green efforts will  stand a better chance at getting and keeping their attention and support.  Professional sports organizations have made the commitment to use their influence with fans to change how fans view their relationship to the environment.  Green office teams can hit a home run by capitalizing on the leadership and successful examples from Major League Baseball and other sports organizations.  

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"...Air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue."--John Muir

May 14, 2014
Last year, GreenWorksGov did a series on indoor air quality, specifically focused on fragrances and scents in the workplace.   As I looked out my window this morning and saw leaves stirring in the breeze, I realized I’d never written about air quality in the outdoor sense.  At least, not a dedicated article about air quality.  My “go to” resource is the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin my quest to learn about air pollution and air quality and what we can do about it.  Turns out, quite a lot. 
From EPA’s homepage, you can link to a series of pages about air quality and air pollution, AirNow.  The landing page has a feature that allows you to see the current air quality in any location in the US and Canada.  Looking for other countries?  There is a tab with instructions how to view air quality around the globe using Google Earth.  AirNow does a nice job summarizing the health risks of air pollution that could be a suitable subject for a newsletter item for green teams. 
The two features I want to highlight are the sections “What You Can Do” and a cool, free widget that I think would be a helpful addition to an Intranet Green page and would raise awareness about local air pollution and what affects the quality of the air we breathe.  “What You Can Do” has tips for transportation, household, lawn and garden, and precautions for days when the ozone levels are unhealthy and particle pollution is high.  One tip I wasn’t familiar with but makes perfect sense—refuel after dusk.  First among transportation tips is to choose a cleaner commute, such as mass transit, rideshare, biking, or walking to work.  Whether for business or personal need, combine errands to limit “cold starts” and avoid engine idling.
The free widget is brilliant! Consider posting this on your Intranet page which shows the current air quality in your area.   The link shows an image of what the widget looks like on a page and has the code right on it to paste to your webpage.  Include the zip code(s) you want to see and there you are!  Employees have an easy way to be notified of when air quality is in an unhealthy range, particularly a problem for children and the elderly, so they can modify activities to protect their health.
Another “go to” resource for green office teams is your state air quality control agency.  In California, that’s the Air Resources Board, which is a good resource for information about issues and has links to helpful guides.    
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