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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Sustainability: an economic driver

Over the past decade sustainability moved from "the right thing to do" to an economic driver. Beyond cost-savings from efficient use of resources, sustainable best practices are often the basis for revenue generation. 

From the personal consumer to major sporting events, customers demand sustainable best practices ranging from energy consumption, packaging choices, cleaning supplies used, and material reuse | recycling. It is common practice for major sporting events to include a sustainability section in the host city RFP (request for proposal) package.

As host to the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe, Atlanta set a high standard for sporting event sustainability practices. One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee (ALOC) stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." Georgia World Congress Center Authority Director of Sustainability Tim Trefzer took the helm for achieving the lofty goal.

SUCCESS: the comprehensive ALOC plan culminated in impressive green footprints before, during and after the games. The ZWA Blog article, Final Four green footprints continue after the games, gives an overview of event sustainability stats; the May 2013 Final Four Sustainability Report is the official in-depth report.

Post event, Tim and an EPA colleague drafted the Final Four Sustainability RFP sustainability section. Thus, new industry standards were established!

Continuing Atlanta's sustainability leadership role, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS) is slated to open in mid-2017 as the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Certified professional stadium in the world. MBS will serve as the home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) and Atlanta United FC of the Major League Soccer (MLS).

At the invitation of Elemental Impact (Ei) Founder Holly Elmore, MBS General Manager Scott Jenkins gave an empowering Sustainability: an economic driver presentation at the February 15 Lambda Alpha International (LAI) Atlanta Chapter luncheon meeting.

In his opening slide, Scott states: MBS will be the Heart of Atlanta and home to the biggest championships in the United States. Validating the statement, the MBS secured the following sport championships PRIOR to opening:
Unique Operable Roof
photo courtesy of
AMB Sports & Entertainment Group
  • 2018 College Football National Championship
  • 2019 Super Bowl
  • 2019, 2022, 2025 College Football Playoffs
  • 2020 NCAA Men's Final Four
  • Annual SEC Championships
  • Annual Chick-fil-A Bowl
  • Annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game
Scott proceeded to explain many of the unique stadium features including the retractable roof, an innovative mechanized curtaining system for the stadium’s mid and upper bowls, and connected upper level walkways throughout the stadium circumference. In addition, MBS is committed to using local contractors and exceeded their Minority | Female Business Enterprise (MFBE) 30% goal; currently, the stadium construction MFBE is 36%.

MBS field rendering
photo courtesy of
AMB Sports & Entertainment Group
Working closely with Levy Restaurants, the stadium's concessionaire, MBS is crafting new industry standards for event facility food and beverage service. For example, most non-alcoholic beverages are self-serve with unlimited refills to reduce register transaction time. Additionally, MBS will serve quality, locally sourced (when practical) food at a reasonable price. 

Atlanta Falcons Owner Arthur Blank made a bold sustainability statement by recruiting and hiring Scott three years prior to the stadium opening. In February 2014 Scott left his nearly eight-year tenure as Seattle Mariners Vice-President Ballpark Operations to join AMB Sports & Entertainment Group as the MBS General Manager. Scott was specifically recruited for his unwavering sustainability commitment; under Scott's reign, the Seattle Mariners ballpark achieved zero waste!

The MBS sustainability profile is staggering:
MBS parking lot solar panels
photo courtesy of
AMB Sports & Entertainment Group
  • first NFL | MLS stadium to reach LEED Platinum.
  • first sports facility to achieve alternative LEED water credits; water-efficient fixtures that in aggregate use an estimated 47% less water than baseline standards.
  • first sports facility to pursue several v4 LEED credit strategies including the Materials & Resources category.
  • stadium will save 29% in energy usage versus a typical design.
  • rainwater collection system in an 1,100,000-gallons storm vault and a 680,000-gallons cistern; the water is earmarked for cooling tower make-up water and landscape irrigation.
  • electric car charges available at adjacent parking lots for up to 48 simultaneous charges.
  • 4000 PV solar power panels generate 1.6 million kilowatt hours per year of renewable energy, enough to power 160 Atlanta homes.
  • edible landscape (apples & blueberries) incorporated into the stadium landscape.
  • ample alternative transportation, including public transit, accessible pedestrian paths, and a bicycle network.
Recently, AMB Sports & Entertainment released the SUSTAINABILITY at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium five-minute video featuring Scott and the stadium team. The video is an excellent visual recount of the sustainability-in-progress at the stadium.

Throughout his presentation, Scott emphasized the economics grounding the MBS sustainability commitment.

In addition to his MBS responsibilities, Scott serves as the Green Sports Alliance (GSA) Chair. Per the GSA website:
The Green Sports Alliance leverages the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where we live and play. We do so by inspiring sports leagues, teams, venues, their partners and millions of fans to embrace energy and water efficiency; renewable energy; sustainable food; responsible procurement; socially responsible practices; and other environmentally preferable actions.
The Ei Entourage
(pictured as listed at left)
As Scott is a close Ei friend, a strong Ei entourage attended the LAI meeting to show their support: LAI member Wayne King (U.S. Composting Council | ERTHProducts), Boyd Leake (City of Atlanta, Office of Sustainability), Jim Harrell (Renaissance Technology) and Tim Trefzer (GWCC).

Following his formal presentation, Scott answered the plethora of pertinent questions from the LAI audience. It was a powerful meeting and inspiring to learn the intricacies of the next
architectural icon.

Scott's PPT presentation is available on the Ei Lambda Alpha International page.

When bottom-line benefits are derived from cost-savings and revenue generation, sustainability is an economic driver where the business, the community-at-large, and the environment WIN!


About Lambda Alpha International:
Lambda Alpha International (LAI) is an honorary society for the advancement of land economics. LAI provides a forum for the study and advancement of land economics where the "winnowing and sifting" of ideas takes place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

LAI operates through a network of chapters. A LAI Chapter provides a variety of programs and forums for its members to share information critical to understanding important land-use issues. The IMPACT Blog article, Lambda Alpha International Atlanta Chapter: growing membership, influence and impact, introduces LAI along with its history and designated purposes.

In December 2013 Ei Founder Holly Elmore was inducted into membership and serves on the LAI Atlanta Chapter Board. In addition, Holly serves on the LAI Global Public Relations and Communications Committee.

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