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The White House hosts first sports sustainability conference

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Last Thursday, the White House played host to the first-ever “Sports and Sustainability” conference to celebrate and discuss the ongoing progress in green and sustainable initiatives across the sports industry.

As reported by, representatives from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR and more gathered with government officials and environmental groups at the White House in “celebrating the sports industry’s successes in saving energy, reducing waste and adopting sustainable practices at sports facilities as part of the Better Buildings Challenge,” according to the Department of Energy. Created by President Obama, the Better Buildings Challenge is intended “to encourage major corporations, universities, and state and local governments to pledge and lead the way to saving energy, money, and showcasing the best energy saving strategies for buildings and their results.”

According to the NRDC blog, over 100 professional sports organizations have already subscribed to the “Greening Advisor,” which assists teams in finding various ways to be more sustainable and efficient and influence the millions of sports fans to change their own behaviors.

“When a sports team or event launches a sustainability effort, it creates a tremendous opportunity to attract the attention of millions upon millions of fans,” said Peter Lehner in the NRDC blog. “When NASCAR converted to using ethanol, you bet racing fans took notice. When a team rallies squads of fan-volunteers to collect recyclables throughout a stadium, people might actually notice their beer was served in a compostable cup, and realize how that can make a meaningful difference when you're sitting in a group of 10,000 people who are all eating or drinking out of containers that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill for the next century or so.”

Locally, the Stapes Center was lauded for replacing more than 3,000 halogen fixtures with LEDs, saving $80,000 in energy costs and reducing energy consumption by 12 percent.

Engaging NFL fullback Ovie Mughelli gave the closing remarks at the conference. He’s the founder of the Ovie Mughelli Foundation, a nonprofit organization that teaches kids about environmental responsibility. His remarks begin at the 42:20 mark of the video.