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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Campus Sports Get Greener

September 9, 2013

Representatives from more than 70 professional and collegiate sports organizations gathered in New York City in late August for the annual Green Sports Alliance Summit. Launched nationally in 2011, the alliance includes 15 collegiate teams and more than 170 professional teams united around sustainability.

At the summit, the Green Sports Alliance, together with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and the National Resources Defense Council, released a new report titled College Game Changers: How Campus Sport is Going Green. It includes 10 case studies of geographically diverse institutions, including the University of Oregon, the University of Minnesota, and Yale University. According to the report, "Collegiate athletics and recreation departments are following the lead of the professional sports industry and are embracing environmental stewardship to an unprecedented degree."

The survey respondents, who represent 148 American and Canadian institutions, report that their campuses have undertaken the most sustainability initiatives in the areas of recycling, energy efficiency, water efficiency, alternative transportation, paper purchasing, and green cleaning. Areas with the fewest sustainability initiatives implemented include renewable energy, purchasing, green building design, and composting.

Results from the 2013 survey indicated:

  • 216 collegiate sports departments (97 athletics and 119 recreation ) and installed recycling infrastructure
  • 146 collegiate sports departments (60 athletics and 86 recreational) have invested in energy efficient practices
  • 118 collegiate sports departments (50 athletics and 68 recreational ) have conduced energy audits to identify opportunity for energy savings
  • 109 sports departments (45 athletics and 64 recreation) have a purchasing policy prioritizing
  • 122 collegiate sports departments (50 athletics and 72 recreation) procure greener cleaning products
  • 114 collegiate sports departments (47 athletics and 67 recreational) have trained staff on greener cleaning practices
  • 88 collegiate sports departments (41 athletics and 47 recreational) have built with LEED green building design standards

In addition to presenting results of a 2013 Survey of Green Initiatives associated with college varsity, campus recreation, and club sports programs, events, and facilities, the report offers 12 tips for successful green sports efforts and suggestions for student-led projects. The latter, for example, include an e-waste drive, a sports gear recycling drive, or a food donation program held in conjunction with an athletic event.


Sally Grans Korsh
Director, Facilities Management and Environmental Policy