The Ultimate Team: Creating the game plan for a big sustainability win

Sports sustainability at NC State has been a compilation of big and small wins through various initiatives over the last decade and a half. Through the continued collaboration of an Athletics Sustainability Team, campus stakeholders see an ideal opportunity to raise the profile of the sustainability work that is underway. From academic research to zero waste initiatives, sustainability-themed athletics events, and the commissioning of energy efficient infrastructure projects, current efforts and impact are far from insignificant. However, the Athletics Sustainability Team is poised to take a comprehensive and proactive approach to sports sustainability with a future oriented focus on innovation and leadership.

The purpose of this presentation is to share the NC State journey to date both from a university-wide and Athletics Sustainability Team perspective. This will include overviewing the collaborations that underpin the current work on Athletics sustainability and setting out the ambitions for the future. In support of NC State’s soon to be released 5-year Sustainability Strategic Plan for the university, we intend to generate discussion on how Athletics can best contribute to university-wide sustainability goals. Furthermore, we hope to explore the ways in which sports sustainability initiatives are connected to and support the mission and goals of Athletics.

The presentation will include an overview of three different topics associated with the sports sustainability journey at NC State where momentum, at varying levels, has been experienced. These overviews will focus on the ‘how’, as opposed to the ‘what’, which is intended to provide attendees with the insight and tools to implement these learnings at their own institutions. These topics include:

  • Establishing Sustainability Goals
    • How do we create an effective sports sustainability team?
    • How do we set realistic, attainable objectives that mutually benefit athletics, sustainability
      and the university?
  • Connecting with Academic Research
    • Why are academic and departmental structures relevant?
    • How can academic research add value to sustainability efforts?
  • Developing Student Involvement/Leadership
    • How do you create diverse yet consistent student engagement?
    • How can athletic sustainability initiatives create opportunities for student leadership?

The conjuncture of the strategic, high-level approach of the university-wide plan with the passion and commitment that has characterized the existing sports sustainability projects and initiatives provide an ideal opportunity to work innovatively on long-term goals. This presentation will encourage discussion among attendees on two central issues that NC State currently faces. The questions below will focus on the ‘why’, which is intended to provide valuable discussion and insights that are transferable across institutions:

  • How, behind the alignment of the missions and objectives of multiple stakeholders, can long-term
    action be secured?
  • How can effective communication with Athletics administration be maintained resulting in
    elevating the Athletics sustainability story?

Lindsay Batchelor, Program Development Specialist – NC State University Sustainability Office;Martin Barrett, PhD Student – NC State Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management Department; Lani St. Hill, Outreach Coordinator – NC State Waste Reduction & Recycling Office; James Greenwell, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Resource Allocation & Risk Management – NC State Athletics