2017 Men’s Final Four Championship Organizers Seek Certification for Social and Environmental Responsibility

EUGENE, March 30, 2017– As the surviving teams emerge from March Madness and get ready for the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships in Phoenix, Arizona, organizers are preparing to host what they hope will be the most social and environmentally responsible Final Four weekend ever.

The 2017 Phoenix Final Four Local Organizing Committee has built programming upon a baseline created with the NCAA, Houston Local Organizing Committee and City of Houston at last years’ Final Four, using the Council for Responsible Sport standards for certification; the 2016 event earned basic level certification. Phoenix organizers hope to achieve a higher level of certification at this years’ event, which is awarded after a robust review process that includes an on-site evaluation by the Council’s primary evaluation partner, Waste Management, and post-event reporting of performance on specific criteria.

“Phoenix is honored to host the Final Four in 2017 and is making the same commitment to sustainability that Houston and former host cities have made,” said Dawn Rogers, CEO of the 2017 Phoenix Final Four Local Organizing Committee. “We are working with an outstanding local committee to have a high waste diversion rate along with water and energy offsets. With our community working together under one banner, we’ll strive to ensure that Phoenix showcases the standard of excellence this iconic event deserves.”

“Waste Management is excited to continue utilizing our sustainable event management expertise and evaluate this year’s Final Four for the Council,” said Ben Mjolsness, Sustainability Associate with Waste Management and this year’s on-site evaluator. “The event organizers have put together a robust collection of programs focused on social and environmental initiatives. We are looking forward to seeing them all in action at this year’s Final Four tournament.”

Certification from the Council formally recognizes responsible practices at sporting events and is achieved by implementing best practices in each of five categories including planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.

Socially and environmentally responsible initiatives planned for the 2017 Phoenix Final Four include:

  • Attempting high rates of waste diversion from the landfill through signage and sorting of recyclable and compostable materials
  • Working with local partners such as Keep Phoenix Beautiful to repurpose signage, banners and other durable materials
  • Engaging volunteers and the public to show support and take action in their lives through the ‘Final Four Green Pledge’
  • Hosting 3,200 youth (18 & under) at the NCAA Final Four Dribble on Sunday, April 2 in downtown Phoenix where participants will receive a free t-shirt and Wilson basketball
  • The Phoenix Local Organizing Committee is providing 6,000 backpacks to 60 area schools in a partnership with NCAA Team Works
  • Engaging third grade students at 360 local schools in a literacy challenge geared to inspire reading and increase classroom achievement in partnership with ReadOnArizona and NCAA.
  • Opening the March Madness Music Festival to the public at no cost. The festival is at Margaret T. Hance Park featuring performances by top national musicians.

The Final Four basketball games will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The fan festivities will be held in downtown Phoenix starting Friday, March 31 through Monday, April 3.


Bike New York Solidifies Leadership in Responsible Event Production with TD Five Boro Bike Tour Gold

November 2, 2016—The Council for Responsible Sport (Council) announced today that the TD Five Boro Bike Tour hosted by Bike New York has earned gold level certification, recognizing the successful implementation of socially and environmentally responsible practices at the 2016 event. Held each year on the first Sunday in May in New York, more than 30,000 riders reclaim the streets of New York for a day to raise awareness and funds for Bike New York’s free bike education programs. This is the second certification of the event, which earned silver certification from the Council in 2014.

“Being able to turn the iconic TD Five Boro Bike Tour into a leader in the growing movement of social and environmental responsibility is certainly one of our finest achievements,” said Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York. “Reaching the Gold has been a real team effort,and we could not have done so without such committed partnerships from organizations and city agencies like GrowNYC and NYC Compost Project, and the support of our very green title sponsor, TD Bank. This certification encompasses everything we strive to be as an organization and as individuals; and I’d like to thank the Council for giving us this opportunity and for guiding us so brilliantly to do something that is so incredibly important for the environmental and social well-being of our planet.”

Bike New York 'Learn to Ride' Ambassadors got a free entry and helmet to share and promote BNY's bike education programs.

Bike New York ‘Learn to Ride’ Ambassadors got a free entry and helmet to share and promote BNY’s bike education programs.

Bike New York hosted an exemplary event in 2016 that brought to fruition dozens of initiatives that enhanced the responsibility of the event—think impacts, access, legacy—some were very visible (zero waste stations), while others were more subtle (waiving the helmet rule for a group of riders whose religious observations preclude helmet usage so that they could participate). All were done with the simple, effective intention to increase the social benefit to people while reducing negative environmental impacts.


Highlights from the 2016 TD Five Boro Bike Tour responsible sport initiatives include:

  • Through partnerships with Grow NYC and NYC Compost Project, Zero Waste Stations were used at Bike Expo New York, Tour Rest Areas, and at the Finish Festival to divert 91% of event waste from the landfill, including composting 6,000 lbs. of food waste.
  • Green Team volunteers managed the Zero Waste Stations, ensuring that participants followed signage to place waste in the proper recycling, compost, and waste receptacles.
  • 29,000 lbs. of leftover food was donated to City Harvest.
  • Seventy percent of the food provided at the Tour was organic or locally sourced, including 24,000 apples from the New York State Apple Association and 90,000 Clif products including, Clif Bars, Clif Organic Energy Food, and Clif Bloks.
  • Used bike tubes were collected at Rest Area Bike Repair Stations to be upcycled into wallets and messenger bags.
  • The Tour program was produced on paper that was sourced in an environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and economically viable manner, through the Forest Stewardship Council program.
  • 10,000 Tyvek rider bibs were recycled through post-Tour collection efforts.
  • The Start Line and Bike Expo New York were in transit-dense locations, making the events easily accessible by all.
  • Through a partnership with DEP’s NYC Water Program, world-renowned New York City tap water was available for riders, eliminating the need for disposable water bottles.
  • With support from Clif Bar, more than 20,000 foil-lined food wrappers (otherwise bound for the landfill) were collected for upcycling through a program run by Terracycle.
  • The Tour and the Bike Expo New York were ADA Accessible.
  • Proceeds from the Tour fund Bike New York’s free bike education programs for kids and adults. In 2015, Bike New York taught more than 17,000 New Yorkers how to ride safely and confidently.
  • Outreach Teams engaged with NYC Community Boards in the Tour planning process, promoted Bike New York’s free bike education programs in their districts, and encouraged community members to participate in the Tour as riders, volunteers, or spectators.
  • TD Bank sponsored performers along the route, many of who operate as non-profit organizations.
  • TD Bank provided electricity from their branches, which comes from Green Mountain Energy, a renewable energy company, to power the performances along the route.


See what we mean? This is an event to celebrate, and to ride if you can! You can read the full press release here

and check out more information about the TD Five Boro Bike Tour here.

TrackTown USA Earns Evergreen for World Indoor Championships, Olympic Trials

Hard work pays off. TrackTown USA, Inc. has continued to focus on incorporating more sustainable practices in the several years since earning its first event certification from the Council for Responsible Sport with the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials. Now it celebrates the fruit of that enduring labor with two new Evergreen level certifications for its 2016 events.

Already recognized as a global leader in producing sustainable sporting events, TrackTown USA, Inc. achieved a huge milestone this year when two separate events earned Evergreen certification by the Council for Responsible Sport. Evergreen is the highest level of certification granted by the Council and just three events have reached that pinnacle since the current standards (version 4.2) were implemented in 2014.

Now TrackTown USA has delivered two of them – the IAAF World Indoor Championships at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland (March 17-20) and the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field (June 30-July 10).

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was the official starter for the Middle School 60m Dash at the Oregon Convention Center, which enabled 350 students from Portland public schools to run on the same track used for the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Photo by Josh Phillips)

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales was the official starter for the Middle School 60m Dash at the Oregon Convention Center, which enabled 350 students from Portland public schools to run on the same track used for the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Photo by Josh Phillips)

“We are ecstatic about this recognition of the hard work of our volunteers, committee members and staff to make both events much more than just a track and field meet,” said TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna. “TrackTown USA is committed to hosting events that engage and inspire, whether partnering with public transportation agencies to cut carbon emissions from travel, sharing our diverse wine, beer, and food culture with visitors from around the world, or encouraging youth to get moving through sport and fitness programs.”

The list of initiatives implemented is long for both events; both achieved at least 90 percent of all the available standards across the five responsible sport categories including planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.

TrackTown USA places a heavy focus on growing the sport of Track & Field and one major way of doing that is providing ways for new people to get engaged. The Nike Run Club House of Track was a particularly significant initiative. Partnering with the City of Portland to build the 200-meter track and infield in a vacant warehouse in northwest Portland, the warehouse was transformed into a community resource in January and February. The House of Track was open seven days/week for athlete training, community runs, and elite track and field meets which drew competitors from around the country. Assembling the track in the warehouse prior to moving it into the Oregon Convention Center for the World Indoor Championships brought the sport of indoor track and field to thousands more.

Thousands of kids participated in the Youth Heptathlon—running, jumping, and throwing in seven events throughout the free fan festival surrounding Hayward Field during the Olympic Trials. For many of the kids, it was their first opportunity to try the events.

Water stations were setup throughout the fan festival at Hayward Field to reduce the amount of single-use plastic water bottles consumed.

Water stations setup throughout the fan festival at Hayward Field reduced the consumption of single-use plastic water bottles.

To achieve high scores in procurement and resource management, the venues themselves were keys to success. Both the Oregon Convention Center (for the IAAF World Indoor Championships) and Hayward Field/University of Oregon campus have well-established environmental programs that provided a foundation for success as organizers strove for high levels of waste diversion and prevention, utilizing green power, and being in close proximity to public transportation.

The Council’s primary evaluation partner, Waste Management’s Sustainability Services team (WMSS) evaluated both events. WMSS consultants provided consistent and systematic evaluations, and provided professional feedback and recommendations. Lee Spivak, the WMSS consultant onsite at the Olympic Trials in July said, “The U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field did an impressive job with event material management, utilizing tap water over bottled water, engaging youth in a variety of activities, and educating fans about sustainability through the We Can initiative.”

There’s more to this story. You can read the full press release here for more detail on the efforts that earned these two evergreen certifications. Look out everyone, TrackTown USA just set, and cleared, a very high bar!

2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run Earns Gold Certification

Leading up to the 2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run, Sustainability Team Leader Kim Nemire made a concerted effort to integrate sustainability into all aspects of race production. The results speak for themselves: Today the Council for Responsible Sport confirmed Gold certification and the achievement of every credit applied for by the 2015 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run, following silver certifications in 2011 and 2013.

Keith Peters, Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Sport, acknowledged Kim Nemire’s exemplary leadership: Credit 4.4 cultural copy“Kim and her team looked at every aspect of the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run in search of new opportunities to engage and educate race participants and volunteers about sustainability. Perhaps the most far reaching initiative they promoted was TapIt, an innovative bottle refilling network of cafes, eateries, grocery stores and other local businesses that promote the DC region’s access to tap water and provide a more sustainable alternative to bottled water.”

Another notable initiative promoted an all-women Afro-Brazilian band called Batalá Washington. The women played Samba-Reggae rhythms on-course during the race to entertain runners and spectators as well as raise awareness of their mission.

Batalá Washington’s mission is to empower women through drumming and expose people to Brazil’s dynamic Afro­ Bahian culture and Samba ­Reggae music. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, all funds go towards providing instruments and costumes to members, all of whom are volunteers.

For a complete copy of the press release detailing many other Credit Union Cherry Blossom Run’s accomplishments, click here.

TrackTownUSA and University of Oregon Earn Two Silver Certifications

If you haven’t been keeping track of the number of times the Council has recognized TrackTownUSA and the Univeristy of Oregon for the stellar job they do hosting and producing sustainable multi-day events, the grand total stands at six certifications awarded since 2012! And one of those certifications was for the Duck’s entire home track & field schedule in 2013 — four meets in total.

“We couldn’t be prouder of this important achievement,” TrackTown USA President Vin Lananna said. “We lead the nation in responsible sporting events, and we will continue to pursue even greater sustainable measures at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland this March, and all future events at Hayward Field.”

Considering the fact that Bill Bowerman introduced “jogging” to the Eugene community back in the 1960s, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the TrackTown Youth League is a key initiative with the goal of bringing the many benefits of track & field to kids across the state of Oregon. This year, more than 1,000 kids participated in a dozen statewide regional qualifying all-comer’s meets which culminated with the championship of the 2015 TrackTown Youth League presented by Providence Health & Services on June 27 at Hayward Field during the 2015 USATF Championships weekend. You can read more about the 2015 TrackTown Youth League here.

Also of note: TrackTown USA has already begun work on Council certification of two major events in 2016: the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland (March 17-20) and the U.S. Olympic Trials, to be held at Historic Hayward Field (July 1-10). In fact, they’ve already begun planning for certification of the 2021 IAAF World Championships!

We at the Council are pleased and proud to document the success of (TrackTown USA’s) many sustainability initiatives.

The press release announcing this year’s certifications can be found here.