Sustainable Sports Venue Tour

Matthew Knight Arena is a remarkable venue which received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification and is a leader among sustainable stadiums in the United States. LEED is am internationally recognized green building rating system with different levels of recognition from certified to platinum. According to the University of Oregon athletic office, the stadium is anticipating LEED Gold certification making it one of the United States most sustainable sports venues. However, there are many other sports venues have already made changes or taking steps to become more energy efficient and socially responsible.

Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, are doing there part by installing wind turbines, solar panels and a co-generation plant. This change will make the stadium self sufficient as well as providing some extra energy to be put back into the power grid. The improvements are scheduled to be completed in September, around the same time the Eagles start the season pending a NFL lockout. The Eagles are the first in the NFL to take action in the trend of sustainably but commissioner Roger Goodell expects other teams to make changes in order to stay competitive to the Eagles social sustainability.

The Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks are leaders of sustainability in the NBA. All three stadiums have earned LEED  certification, however, the Portland Trail Blazers are the first team to receive LEED Gold certification. The city of Portland continues to show that they are dedicated to sustainability and is a leader among United States cities. During the NBA green week in early April, the Portland Trail Blazers plan on having a green game against the Dallas Mavericks. “The announcement by the Portland Trail Blazers that the Rose Garden Arena has achieved LEED Gold Certification is an authentic milestone in the greening of professional sports,” said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist and director of NRDC’s Sports Greening Initiative. “Never before has any major league sports arena or stadium achieved LEED Gold status, and it represents an accomplishment with likely consequences well beyond professional basketball” (NBA.com).

America’s favorite pastime is even jumping on the sustainability train. The Washington Nationals ballpark was the first professional baseball venue to receive LEED Silver certification when they finished Nationals Park in 2008. However with the completion of Target Field in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Twins beat out the Washington ballpark by two points on the LEED certification scale making it the most sustainable ballpark in the MLB. “We are absolutely thrilled about the LEED Silver certification for the ballpark,” said Steve Cramer, Chair of the Minnesota Ballpark Authority. “The Authority is pleased that our investment will pay dividends for years to come as fans learn more about the importance of sustainable design when they visit Target Field” (MLB.com).

Safeway brief

In my communicating sustainability class we have been focusing on problem solving through briefs that are provided. When we receive the brief we are given half an hour to solve the problem related to sustainability. In a brief about changing the way people shop at Safeway to more sustainable decisions, my group came up with an idea worth sharing.

We created a point system that communicates which products are more sustainable. The basic problem that we started with was recognizing the lack of knowledge about sustainable products on the shelves. To solve this ever product is given a point value that pertains to the social, environmental, and community sustainability of the company. When the customer checks out, they will receive the average point value at the bottom of the receipt. It will be a simple number or grade so they easily recognize the sustainable quality of their purchases. We believe that over time shoppers are going to gradually improve their purchases.

For the shoppers who have club cards, their score will automatically save on their account. The club members can then go to Safeway’s website where they can access all their scores and statistics about shoppers in their area and the United States and how their purchases affect the world.

We believe this point system will drive companies to become more sustainable. If a company has a very low grade then customers will be discouraged to make that purchase. Our idea has potential to change company’s unsustainable business practices as well as improve the future culture of grocery shopping.

University of Oregon’s “Light Box to Campus”

In our research about the sustainability of Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon. We got a glimpse of the environmental efficient features of the new John E. Jaqua Academic Center for student athletes. Its designs purpose was to offer a “light box to the entrance of campus,” and to create a sustainable and efficient place where student athletes can hit the books.

We met with Steve Stolp, who is the Director of Services for Student Athletes, as well as a member of the building committee for the new academic center. Steve walked us through the planning process and the sustainable features of the building. The most fascinating and visually obvious feature of the building is the exterior design of the building. The glass cube appearance not only acts as the light box to campus but also uses innovative technology to increase energy efficiency. The entire building is covered in two layers of low UV glass which is the main source of day lighting in the building while also protecting the student athletes, staff and equipment from the harmful effects of UV rays. In the gap (or cavity) between the two layers of glass there is a Johnson screen. The Johnson screen acts as the only heating or cooling system in the building. The Johnson screens collect the heat from the sun and hold it in the cavity. This shell of heat around the building keeps the building warm through the winter.

When the building becomes to warm, either from to much sunlight or warmer weather, flaps open on top of the buildings releasing heat from the cavity. To further cool it down, the architect built a pool of water that surrounds the building and at the bottom of the cavity. This releases the cool air from the top of the water up into the cavity in order to cool off the entire building. The glass cube design mixed with the pool surrounding the building creates a seamless boundary between the water and glass.  The creative design combined with the innovate ways the architect met the high energy efficiency standard has made the Jaqua Center the light box to the entrance of the University of Oregon campus.

Ecotrust awards Dave’s Killer Bread the Food Artisian 2011 Local Hero Award

Dave’s Killer Bread recently received the 2011 Local Hero Award for the Food Artisan category in Portland, OR. They were honored by a local food magazine, Edible Portland, which is published quarterly and funded by the non-profit Ecotrust. Ecotrust is a non-profit whose mission is to inspire innovation among environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability.

Dave’s Killer Bread was one of five winners in different categories for their benefits to the food culture of the greater Portland area. The finalists for the five categories were selected by the magazines staff, but the winners were decided by a community vote. Dave’s Killer Bread was complemented for their whole grain and organic bread that is healthy and hearty with a great taste. Among the many environmentally conscience business decisions that Dave’s Killer Bread practices, their effort to help released prisoners is one of the most substantial and innovate ways in which Dave’s Killer Bread benefits the community. Click here to read more about the Dave’s Killer Bread story.

Also congratulations to the other four category winners: Farm: Your Backyard Farmer, Restaurant: Bamboo Sushi, Beverage Artisan: Vincent Family Cranberries, Non-profit Organization: Oregon Food Bank.

Always Say Thank You

Stephanie Crim and I went out on the University of Oregon campus with the goal to get 100 people to thank us. We did this by holding the door open for people during the lunch rush at the student union and dorm cafeteria. The results were astounding and reflected well on the manners of the students at Oregon. Enjoy the video and always remember to say thank you!

Agents of cultural change

The idea that communicators must understand about being transparent and relevant in their work concerning sustainability is that they need to become agents of cultural change. In our discussions with the guest speakers, they all touched on their own philosophy of how they go about becoming these agents. Tom Osdoba, managing director of the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the University of Oregon, believes that the greatest sustainability challenges are not economical or technological, but institutional. His philosophy motivates communicators and companies to stop making excuses about inabilities to change and use your resources, internal creativity, and innovative thinking to make the necessary sustainable changes. The spirit of his offering challenges companies who are afraid of changing how their business performs. It encourages them to find the inspiration to make the necessary institutional changes to be more socially, economically, environmentally, and culturally more sustainable.

Kevin Tuerff of Enviromedia and co-developer of the greenwashing index, believes that it is the attitudes and behaviors through social marketing that need to be agents of change. He views it as a social movement and that everyone needs to embrace. Tuerff and Enviromedia actually practice this by conducting research and developing social media outside of their agencies communication business. They promote social sustainability by conducting and coordinating acts of kindness in their communities. Every year, they go to a vendor and buy the next allotted amount of meals for people who order. This practice has become popular and has inspired other people and business to coordinate their own ways becoming more socially and culturally sustainable. They also conduct a social research project to find out what the most common littered products. Then they use social media to communicate their research with the public. They focus on the most common litter and which companies are responsible for the trash, in an attempt to inspire change to more sustainable packaging. Kevin Tuerff’s message, business model, greenwashing index, and social experiments are heroic attempts to change the behaviors of people and inspire agents of cultural change.

Leading sustainability trends

The three leading sustainability trends that I found most effect the brand world are brand transparency, greenwashing, and the practice of giving the company to the employees.  In Adam Werbach’s book Strategy for Sustainability, he uses Nike as an example of a leader in transparency by doing more and talking less.  Werbach states, “It’s this internal transparency that is the key step, not the ‘transparency’ of public relations” (Werbach 108). Nike is in the business of performance not necessarily producing the greenest products (however Nike does try to improve products and buy materials that are more sustainable). Lorrie Vogal, who is responsible for sustainability initiatives at Nike, said, “We focus on transparency and doing the work rather than talking about the work” (Werbach 108). This trend of doing what you can to make the world a better place through sustainable business practices rather than strictly through sacrificing the quality of products is a leading idea in sustainability. Nike is using transparency to improve internally; not to quite the critics or to satisfy their public relation needs.

The trend of internal transparency leads my analysis to the companies that focus on satisfying public opinion rather than actually practicing sustainability. This trend is called greenwashingdm and it has companies all around the world terrified. Greenwashing is a leading sustainability trend because it calls out companies who are fabricating or being dishonest in their sustainability efforts and practices. This affects the brand world by holding them responsible for messages associated with a brand. With the trend of sustainability, customers who are devoted to supporting sustainable companies deserve to know who are making responsible claims. This trend has also supported the effort for a regulatory system for considering a company sustainable in their practices and messages.

The third trend that I found to be a leader among the brand world is employee engagement. This trend focuses on social sustainability and responsibility to increase the level of passion people have for the work they do. Adam Werbach believes that sustainability, “can give employees an opportunity to serve something larger than themselves” (Werbach 129). Sustainability provides employees an opportunity to voice new ways of thinking, explore creative ways of solving unsustainable problems, and the ability to become a leader and innovator in internal business practices. The factor that engages to the employees at the highest level is the company’s effort of showing they care about the lives and happiness of their employees. Werbach argues that employees who actually care about social, economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability, become more motivated, happy, and engaged in corporate goals.