December 2, 2015

On November 9th, Bulldog Sustainability hosted a discussion with Jill Savery (F&ES) as the first installment of the Bulldog Sustainability Sports and Sustainability Series. Jill won a gold medal in synchronized swimming at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and is now a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno.

During the discussion, Jill discussed in the importance of a holistic approach, one which values social sustainability in addition to environmental sustainability. First, she spoke about the importance of this theme in the planning of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The London Olympics were the first Games with a sustainability plan and also the first major event to undertake calculating an accurate carbon footprint. This event set the standard for tracking carbon emissions at large-scale events by implementing two new international standards: the ISO12001 sustainable event standard and the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines on sustainability reporting and tracking. The organization committee demonstrated commitment to social sustainability by working to achieve gender equality in construction for the facilities and training the workforce in how to lead green and healthy lives, both at work and at home. Through this approach, they succeeded in their waste reduction and diversion efforts by implementing a construction material reuse project. 

Jill served as the Head of Sustainability for the 34th America’s Cup Regatta and offered insight into how the planning team’s approach achieved meeting their sustainability goals. The organizers committed to carbon neutrality and zero waste, aiming to leave the community in San Francisco in better shape than before the Regatta. With this goal in mind, the organizers focused on youth engagement and public education as they worked toward best practices for their five sustainability themes: engagement, energy & emissions, resource efficiency, natural habitats & wildlife, and inclusion. The Regatta became the first event to use the PAS 2060 carbon neutrality standard and achieved a 98% waste diversion rate for the events prior to the final, and an 85% diversion rate during the final.

For both of these events, Jill emphasized the importance of public engagement. By using athletes as public role models, these events served to generate positive behavior change among sports fans. We learned a lot from Jill’s visit, and look forward to the next event in the series. Thanks to all who came, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!