Greening Collegiate Athletics: Green Athletic Centers Resource
When it comes to campus sustainability, athletic departments often are not at the top of the list for being the greenest department. There are a number of factors that attribute to this, including teams traveling around the country to play their opponents, the vast number of resources used to maintain athletic fields and facilities, and the impact of fans tailgating before football games. Whatever your personal opinion of college athletics may be, it is clear that it has an important role to play in solving the campus sustainability puzzle.
The number of people that attend and view collegiate sporting events each year is tremendous, and the athletic departments have the ability to educate these fan bases about sustainability. One important initiative many institutions are doing is encouraging recycling at sporting events, and many of these schools have seen large increases in the amount being recycled campus wide.
The task of greening college athletics is no easy task, but the NCAA is working to help make it happen. The NCAA has formed a Green Team to look into ways of making college athletics more sustainable. At this past year'sGreening of the Campusconference there was a plenary session panel in which the NCAA talked about what is being done and the opportunities that exist for more progress. AASHE recently released a publication that assesses the efforts that athletic departments are making, Greening Collegiate Athletics Survey. ESPN has even gotten behind the effort to make athletics more sustainable and sponsored a "Green Game" this past December.
The new member's only Green Athletic Centers resource features LEED certified athletic facilities. Committing to building and renovating athletic facilities that have the least impact on the environment should become the new standard for athletic facilities. Besides the obvious environmental and health benefits of these facilities, I would also like to believe there are, as coaches commonly say, the "intangibles." For instance, the University of Florida has a LEED Platinum certified football complex that was completed in 2008. Coincidentally, they won the football national championship that year. The University of Kentucky recently announced plans to build a new dormitory for their basketball team, which under school policy must be at least LEED Silver. A LEED dorm in combination with the winningest college basketball team ever has potential to be a lethal combination. GO GREEN! GO CATS!
A few example green atheletic facilities are included below:
University of Florida Heavener Football Complex - LEED Platinum (Photo: Ray Carson, UF News Bureau)
Haverford College Integrated Athletic Center - LEED Gold (Photo: Nic Lehoux)
Pennsylvania State University Recreation Hall Wrestling & Student Fitness Center - LEED Gold (Photo: L. Robert Kimball & Associates)
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