Survey: College Sports Facilities Becoming Greener, More Sustainable

April 15, 2014
The top 10 initiatives include: Upgraded lighting systems with more advanced controls. Energy audits. Upgrading to water-efficient fixtures.

Collegiate athletic teams increasingly are adopting green and sustainable practices in operation of their facilities, a survey conducted by the University of Arizona Office of Sustainability and published by the Natural Resources Defense Council reveals.

Contacted by e-mail from May through June 2013, the 175 respondents represent 148 colleges and universities, athletic conferences, and community colleges in the United States and Canada.

According to the survey, the top 10 initiatives that have been implemented (in descending order) are:

  1. Installation of recycle bins in public areas.
  2. Recycling programs in office areas.
  3. Recycling programs in non-public areas.
  4. Installation of bicycle racks and infrastructure promoting bicycle commuting.
  5. Upgraded lighting systems with more advanced controls.
  6. Use of green cleaning products.
  7. Energy audits.
  8. Installation of recycling signage in public areas.
  9. Upgrading to water-efficient fixtures.
  10. Training of custodial staff on green cleaning practices and products.

The survey found campus facility and sustainability departments, followed by recreation and sports departments and athletics departments, are most responsible for implementing green and sustainable initiatives.

“While this is encouraging, we still have a ways to go,” Stephen P. Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in greening the cleaning industry, chief executive officer of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which offers a cloud-based dashboard that allows organizations to measure, report, and improve their sustainability efforts, and a member of the Green Sports Alliance board, said. “However, because today’s college students are so green- and sustainable-focused, I believe things will move along pretty fast in the next few years.”