Report Advocates Using Sports to Promote a College’s Green ‘Brand’

The Natural Resources Defense Council has released a new edition of a report on colleges’ efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their sports programs. The report, “Collegiate Game Changers: How Campus Sport Is Going Green,” advocates using athletics—“the primary form of mass media advertising by academic institutions”—to spread awareness about green practices.

collegiate-game-changers-thumbThe report provides 10 case studies of greening in athletics—particularly at some of the nation’s biggest universities, like Arizona State University, Ohio State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities—covering why and how the colleges’ efforts started, what they accomplished, and what challenges they faced. The report advises colleges to start with green initiatives that have the fastest return on investment, to use green efforts in athletics to advance the institution’s brand, and to avoid “greenwashing,” the practice of trumpeting efforts that haven’t actually happened.

“Exaggerating your environmental achievements will undermine confidence in your good work and do long-term damage to your sports greening program and brand,” the report says. “There is no shame is announcing a small accomplishment, or in describing challenges along with goals.”

Many of the profiles cover green athletics facilities or recycling and waste-diversion programs. A survey at the end of the report indicates that college athletics programs are less successful in green-purchasing policies and renewable energy.

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