As the Winter Olympic Games begin to ramp up in Sochi, Russia, the usual sports hype has been overshadowed by controversy. Not only has Sochi provided questionable accommodations, but many believe the Russian city has failed to take action for human rights and has destroyed one of the region's most ecologically valuable sites.
It seems odd that in an age where sustainability has been in the forefront of politics and news articles that we could allow Olympic events to contribute to the degradation of the planet. Although Sochi vowed to make this the greenest Winter Olympics ever when it was awarded the Games in 2007, the city moved in the opposite direction.
Time reports that construction has been a big barrier to sustainable success, pointing to evidence of illegal waste dumping and blocked animal migration routes. And parts of the region's national parks were destroyed for construction, leading to a loss of biodiversity in the area.
But despite the problems in Sochi, there are still a number of companies working to make the world of sports a greener endeavor. Check out these three companies that are making the events you love a little more sustainable.
It should come as no surprise that Coke is often a green sponsor. The company has its hand in almost everything from to sports sponsorships to creating a short movie about its beloved polar bears. In 2012, Coke was the exclusive beverage provider of the London Olympics, but took its role even further by implementing carbon neutral strategies.
The company worked to minimize its emissions throughout the whole process from transportation and storage to packaging and sales and chose to offset any unavoidable emissions it incurred during the Olympic Games. Coke also added 260 recycling bins around the Olympics site to ensure that fans had the opportunity to recycle.
2. Just Energy
Just Energy, a retail energy supplier of natural gas and electricity in North America, offsets the emissions from the Air Canada Center, making Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptor games carbon neutral. The sponsorship is just one of many ways the company works to help consumers minimize their carbon footprints.
Recently, the company also announced plans to offset the energy associated with televising the regular season games. For just $2 fans can offset their own emissions caused from watching the games on TV. And to celebrate their environmental commitment, fans who participate in the program have the opportunity to have their picture taken with alumni players from the Leafs and Raptors.
"We all need to take personal responsibility for our environmental impact on the planet," said Ken Hartwick, president and CEO of Just Energy. "Our goal is to help consumers become aware of the amount of carbon pollution every one of us creates and develop solutions to reduce and neutralize their personal and household carbon footprint."
3. NRG Energy
There was a lot of hype about how green MetLife stadium is thanks to the Super Bowl. But it's not the only sports stadium to have renewable energy onsite. New Jersey-based company, NRG Energy, has partnered with the Eagles, 49ers, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins and the New York Jets and Giants to help bring solar energy to their stadiums. NRG installed solar panels at the home stadium for each of these teams and in return each team has agreed to a 10-or 20-year contract to purchase the renewable energy from the company.
NRG energy installed more than 8,500 solar panels in FedEx Field, the Redskin's stadium. That's enough renewable energy to completely power the stadium on non-game days and supply about 20 percent of its energy needs on game days.
The company also completed the largest solar installation in the Philadelphia area at Lincoln Financial Field. The array consists of 11,000 solar panels, specially designed to withstand snow and the fireworks that blast after each touchdown. In addition to the panels, NRG Energy installed 14 micro wind turbines, which bring the total renewable generation at the field to 3 MW of power.
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