Late last month, Forbes.com published a story called “What ‘Green’ Really Means For The Eagles, Seahawks And NASCAR.” In the article, “green tech” contributor Richard Ferris offers what he views as the key lessons to be taken from a recent panel of sustainability in sports. The panel was held at the annual Advanced Research Projects-Energy conference and featured high-profile team owners like Paul Allen of Seattle Seahawks, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Trail Blazers (as well as, of course Microsoft Fame).
“The spread between science knowledge and sports knowledge is one of the reasons why sports organizations have an outsize impact when they go green. Tens of thousands of people in the bleachers and sometimes millions of TV fans have the opportunity to absorb an environmental message even as they munch on hot dogs.”
Ferris goes on to analyze questions like the relationship between visibility and true environmental impact. He writes about the need to consider the limitations of a given arena and money savings in the short and long terms. While his examples — like Nascar switching to an ethanol rich fuel or The Staples Center installing 1,700 solar panels — are specific to sports and enormous budgets many of the lessons can apply to smaller businesses. Ferris could have argues that a deli, for example, can save money by switching to high efficiency light bulbs. They can also make a larger statement to customers by switching from styrofoam cups to compostable ones. Both improvements can have a green impact and can be good business.