A survey conducted from May through June 2013 by the University of Arizona Office of Sustainability and published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)* finds that more collegiate athletic teams are adopting green and sustainable practices in operation of their sports facilities.
The goal of the survey was to identify sustainability initiatives implemented in college varsity, campus recreation, and club sports programs in the United States and Canada. Additionally, researchers were trying to determine which campus groups were primarily responsible for implementing green initiatives.
Of the 1,200 respondents contacted by email, 175 completed the survey representing 148 colleges and universities, athletic conferences, and community colleges in the U.S. and Canada.
According to the survey, the top ten initiatives that have been implemented (in descending order) are the following:
- Installation of recycle bins in public areas
- Recycling programs in office areas
- Recycling programs in non-public areas of the facility
- Installation of bike racks and infrastructures to promote bicycle commuting
- Upgraded lighting systems with more advanced controls
- Selection of Green Cleaning products
- Energy audits
- Installation of recycling signage in public areas
- Upgrading to water-efficient fixtures
- Training of custodial staff on Green Cleaning practices and products
“While Green Cleaning–related initiatives are on the top ten list, we definitely would like to see those ranking higher,” says Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group, and a board member of the Green Sports Alliance. “One of my goals with the Alliance is to have more sports venues—collegiate, professional, as well as community—use Green Cleaning products and methods.”
As to who is most responsible for implementing the green and sustainable initiatives, the survey found it was primarily campus facility and sustainability departments followed by recreation and sports departments and athletics departments.
“While this is encouraging, we still have a ways to go,” adds Ashkin. “However, because today’s college students are so green- and sustainable-focused, I believe things will move along pretty fast in the next few years.”
*NRDC is an environmental action group with 1.4 million members, among them lawyers, scientists and other professionals.