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.

10th Annual Eugene Marathon Earns Gold in Oregon

Newly Certified at the Gold level by the Council for Responsible Sport, the run set and achieved new sustainability goals

The Council announced today that the 2016 Eugene Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K held May 3 in Eugene, Oregon proved its commitment to producing a world-class event in a socially and environmentally responsible way by achieving gold level certification. This was the first time organizers sought certification for the marathon. CRS_Gold_logo

“Earning such an impressive award shows how dedicated the Eugene Marathon and its participants are to taking care of the environment and our community,” said Richard Maher, Eugene Marathon race director. “Large events like ours have a responsibility to leave places better than we found them.”

The Marathon used 100% renewable energy, provided reusable water bottles and filling stations, diverted or repurposed over 40% of event waste and generated more than $1.3 million in positive economic impact to Eugene and Springfield. Read more about specific sustainability initiatives at the race here.

Read the full press release here and join us in congratulating the Eugene Marathon on a job very well done!


Strong Partnership Leads to Second Gold Certification for PGA TOUR AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

With the announcement of the second-consecutive gold level certification of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, we at the Council for Responsible Sport are reminded once more of the power of strong partnerships. Tournament host, the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, along with The Offset Project and the Pebble Beach Company have all been in full support of clearly defined environmental goals (including achieving certification) since 2013, which has laid the foundation for broad cooperation across all aspects of planning and operations.

The Offset Project is a Monterey-based consulting group focused on the triple bottom lines of positive results for people, the planet and profits, and has been a key player in the successful implementation of environmental efforts. The Offset Project President Kristin Cushman said of the work with the Pro-Am, “Our primary focus when we began was to help the event divert materials from the landfill.  Through years of hard work, and amazing support from our partners, the program has grown into a model everyone can be proud of.  In 2016, The Offset Project established a daily food donation to local organizations, reduced labor time, and streamlined the removal of all waste from the property. The focus has now shifted to establishing event policies and strengthening community partnerships to ensure the success and longevity of what we’ve started.”

Offset Project staff work on a load of building materials. Of the 120 Dumpsters that were pulled from the event, only two were considered trash.

Offset Project staff work on a load of building materials. Of the 120 Dumpsters that were pulled from the event, only two were considered trash.

At any level, such partnership is almost always mutually beneficial, with educational engagement being a key product for event staff and volunteers, vendors and participants or spectators. The host organization avoids trying to stretch limited resources venturing into unfamiliar content area, while the partner organization brings applied knowledge to a large new audience.

Events almost always strive to create an atmosphere where the feel is inclusive and fun. In this way, events actively create community by facilitating positive interactions, and even better when they use their platform to partner and engage people around key social and environmental issues.

Over the past three years, organizers of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am have shown their ability to remain focused on specific goals, learn from previous experience, and adapt to change. These qualities, and the initiatives that demonstrated them in the certification effort (see full press release and accomplishments here), provide a clear example, along with other certified PGA TOUR golf tournaments like the Shell Houston Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open, of what responsible golf looks like. We are grateful for the examples and look forward to seeing more and more events emulate them.

Gold Certified 2015 UCI Road World Championships Held in Richmond Recognized for Environmental Excellence by Virginia Governor

The Council for Responsible Sport executive director, Keith Peters, was present in Richmond, Virginia last week to award Mayor Dwight C. Jones and the local organizing committee an official gold level certification for their hosting of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships cycling event last summer. The accolades continued this week when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the winners of the 2016 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards.

“Governor McAuliffe awarded the City of Richmond and the Virginia Green Travel Alliance the gold award for implementing green practices at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships,” said a press release from the Governor’s office. “These winners have made a commitment that all Virginians benefit from,” Governor McAuliffe said. “I congratulate and thank these organizations for their leadership, innovation and commitment to Virginia’s natural environment.”

Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Sport, Keith Peters (left), awards Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones gold level certification for the hosting of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships at a press conference in Richmond, Virginia on April 6, 2016.

Executive Director of the Council for Responsible Sport, Keith Peters (left), awards Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones gold level certification for the local organizing committee’s work hosting the 2015 UCI Road World Championships at a press conference in Richmond, Virginia on April 6, 2016.

Highlights that helped earn both certification from the Council and the Governors’ Environmental Excellence Award included diverting 76 percent diversion of event waste from the landfill, offsetting 100 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from event operations with renewable energy credits, and having mobile water-filling stations readily available to reduce single-use plastic, thanks to the City’s Department of Public Utilities. Legacy work included creating resources available to future events hosted in the city such as a green team volunteer program and the addition of over 23 miles of new bike infrastructure and 450 new bike racks throughout the city.

“The Gold Certification recognizes the tremendous effort our dedicated City employees and partners put forth to make the 2015 Road World Cycling Championships a sustainable event,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “I especially want to acknowledge Alicia Zatcoff, the City of Richmond Sustainability Manager, and Tom Griffin, Executive Director of Virginia Green Travel Alliance for their leadership and commitment in this undertaking.”

Efforts sought to integrate with the City’s existing sustainability plan, ‘RVA Green—A Roadmap to Sustainability.’ The plan seeks to achieve 55 sustainability initiatives and has indicators to measure overall sustainability goals in areas such as green jobs, healthy food access, community energy use, recycling rates, open space access, housing cost burden, and alternative modes of transportation.

Even more detail around the planning and preparation that went into the sustainability program can be found by reading an interview from August 2015 with sustainabilty manager for the City of Richmond and Richmond ’15, Alicia Zatcoff, on the Green Sports Blog by author Lewis Blaustein.

RVA green also posted an article about the gold certification on their website here. As you’ve read, the huge effort that went into making Richmond ’15 an exemplary event has paid off. The Council offers congratulations to everyone involved with hosting an event that has quickly earned recognition as top responsible event in recent history.

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