US Open Green Initiatives By USTA Sustainability Program Revolution

2018 US Open; Grounds; AA Sculpture Garden

Sustainability is a core principle of The Sports Techie community blog as it is for the US Open. The change in their corporate culture started in 2008 with the US Open Green Initiatives. The latest 2019 version of the program is a blue-print for all major events, sport or otherwise, as they continue do their part to help the environment in a time of unprecedented climate change.  With a goal to lessen their impact on the environment, the USTA entered into an agreement with the Sports for Climate Action Framework by the United Nations, becoming the first major organization to do so throughout North America.  This group of international sports organizations is all in with raising awareness and reversing climate change. In fact, the Green Sports Alliance bestowed the USTA with their Environmental Leadership Award this year because of the way they lead with sustainability, commitment to the environment and engaging their tennis loving community to make it all so.

Lauren Tracy (center) accepts the Green Sports Alliance’s Environmental Leadership Award on behalf of the USTA. Also pictured: Jackie Ventura (left), Green Sports Alliance Board of Directors; Scott Jenkins (right), Green Sports Alliance Board Chair.

USTA Green Revolution at US Open

The USTA started with a recycling program 11-years ago and since then it has grown to become a year-round effort with a variety of programs aimed to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Sustainable design was always a part of the plan and a part of the conversation for the entire strategic transformation team,” said Lauren Tracy, USTA’s director of strategic initiatives and director of the USTA’s sustainability program. Tracy added, “Those renovations and new builds would be done in an environmentally responsible way… It’s just how we do business now.”

The National Tennis Center (NTC) committed to a five-year, $600-million strategic transformation beginning in 2013 with strategic green initiatives a major component of long-term plans.

“We engaged industry experts to help us develop a comprehensive environmental program for the US Open,” said Tracy. “Those experts included Bina Indelicato, founder and CEO of eco evolutions, who now serves as a sustainability consultant for the USTA, as well as Allen Hershkowitz, who pioneered the green sports movement.”

Specifically at the US Open, more than 30,000 metric tons in gas emissions have been eliminated by diverting waste, recycling paper and generating renewable energy certificates. The past 11 US Open tournaments have also generated 4,500 tons of waste that never made its way to landfills clearing the ozone of 4,000 tons of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

The fans that flock to New York for the US Open are responsible for 700 tons of food waste that was converted to organic compost for gardens and farms. The US Open also nearly ended unnecessary food waste by donating in excess of 100 tons of edible foods to local communities.

The 2018 US Open qualified as a zero-landfill event due to their 97 percent waste diversion away from landfills. Unrecyclable, non-compostable material went to a local waste site that converts to usable energy. An impressive 90 percent of paper products are produced out of recycled or compost based materials.

The USTA saves three tons of firewood and another six tons of CO2 emissions per year. To further address local needs, the initiative gives clean cooking options for families in Malawi while preventing indoor cooking smoke exposure, the leading killer of children under age 5 in the world.

“The US Open is a global event,” said Tracy. “And we are committed to being a responsible global citizen. In the 12 years since we began our green initiatives in earnest, we’ve learned a lot and we commit ourselves every year to do better than the year before. We have an obligation to this event, to our global fan base, and to our global environment to make our only lasting impact one of great memories. That is our goal, and that is the focus of all of our efforts.”

Louis Armstrong Stadium

Calculated eco planning for the US Open earned it the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for Louis Armstrong Stadium. The new facility launched at last year’s US Open earned a green building certification program developed to highlight best-in-class building strategies and practices. The sustainable design elements included fixtures designed to use 40 percent less water than standard buildings, landscape constructed to use 55 percent less water, and the use of low-emitting paints and finishes. An amazing 95 percent of waste was recycled during construction.

The first naturally-ventilated stadium built with a retractable roof in the world, eliminated air conditioning needs when the roof is either open or closed. Armstrong Stadium marks the third LEED-certified structure at the NTC, along with the Grandstand Stadium and the NTC’s Transportation Building.

The brand new for 2019, Broadcast Building, has a foam glass foundation made out of 1.3 million recycled glass bottles.

Sponsors/Partners Are All-In

US Open sponsors and partners are a key part of the US Open’s green initiative. Evian water bottles have committed to reaching 100 percent use of recycled material, minus the cap and label, by 2025. Even so, they currently use upwards of 25 percent to manufacture each bottle. The Evian “Flip It For Good” campaign adds fun to the cause by encouraging fans to recycle any bottle they see at the NTC. Fan recycling assistance helps the NYC event recycle almost seven tons of plastic while diverting 97 percent of the plastic waste away from landfills.

Each of the 2019 US Open Polo Ralph Lauren ball person uniforms are made from recycled materials consisting of around 10 recycled plastic bottles per uniform.

Wilson racquet stringers will not use plastic bags in order to wrap the anticipated amount of 5,300 racquets strung over the three week long Grand Slam major. Together with Wilson, the US Open will recycle every one of the used racquet strings equaling the span of 35 miles of string.

Constellation NewEnergy, the official US Open’s energy supplier, plans to donate Green-e Energy certified renewable energy certificates covering 100 percent of the tournament’s electrical usage.

Billie Jean King

The former US Open and Hall of Fame member, Billie Jean King, was also recognized by the Green Sports Alliance for playing her part in encouraging the adoption of the green movement at the cutting-edge venue named after the tennis and equal-rights legend.

“With the renaming of the National Tennis Center in 2006, we worked with the USTA to launch year-round greening efforts for the home of the US Open,” King said. “The significant action taken then has served as a springboard to positively impact the environment for the US Open and the National Tennis Center, and has set an example for other tennis and sporting events to emulate.”

Sports Techie, the original tagline, “Our courts may be blue, but we’re thinking green,” has spurred 11-years of steady USTA green initiatives growth at the US Open.

Sustainability, if only our country’s Commander and Chief understood its importance to the next generation of young fans like the US Open and USTA do.

Make a change for the better, vote in 2020.

See you later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!

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