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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Green Footprints Before, During & After Games

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As host to the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe, Atlanta will be center-stage in the sports world April 5 through 8. A veteran to hosting world-class events, Atlanta was the home to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the 2013 Final Four is Atlanta's fourth time hosting the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament.

What makes the 2013 Final Four Atlanta extra special? First, it is the 75th Celebration of March Madness®. Second, for the first time NCAA Division II & III Men's Basketball Championships are held in the same city with games played at Phillips Arena - games are free and open to the public on Sunday, April 7. Third, Atlanta civic, government and corporate leaders are teaming together to ensure the tournament leaves a green footprint before, during and after the games.

Georgia Dome
The Division I national championship games will be played at the Georgia Dome, one of three facilities under the Georgia World Congress Center Authority umbrella.  Sister facilities include Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia World Congress Center, the nation's fourth largest convention center. A sustainability hero, the GWCCA hosted the 2009 acclaimed Zero Waste Zones press conference launching the groundbreaking program.

In late 2010 the GWCCA welcomed Tim Trefzer as the campus director of sustainability in a new  position dedicated to taking sustainability action beyond in-place zero waste practices. One of Tim's first projects was retrofitting the campus lighting via a $2.3 million grant secured through the GA Environmental Finance Authority State Energy Program. The IMPACT Blog post, GWCC Rolling in the Green, gives details of the lighting retrofit.

Under Tim's leadership, the City of Atlanta is showcasing the power of team spirit with a stellar Atlanta Local Organizing Committee’s Sustainability group.Team building began via a community call to action:  hosting a major sporting event grounded in environmental respect.  

Final Four ATL Sustainability
Committee - see Ei FB for names
A powerful cross section of community leaders answered the call to volunteer their time, expertise and resources.  Representatives from government: City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability and U.S. EPA Region IV, civic & industry associations: Central Atlanta Progress and the Green Meeting Industry Council,  non-profits: Elemental Impact,Southface and Sustainable Atlanta, education: Georgia Institute of Technology and corporate: Coca-Cola Recycling and Phillips Arena serve on the ALOC Sustainability group.

Action-oriented, planned sustainability activities include:
  • Saturday, March 9 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m: e-waste recycling drive in the Silver Lot of the GA Dome; no charge for any electronics brought, including televisions!
  • Monday, March 18, Sunday March 24 and Tuesday, March 26: clothing & textile drive by American Textile Recycling Services | City of Refuge in conjunction with volunteer orientation sessions.  
  • Saturday, March 23: 75 trees planted in in celebration of the tournament's 75th anniversary in conjunction with Trees Atlanta 

Denise Qualres, City of Atlanta
director of sustainability, @ mtg 
The City of Atlanta is providing 200 96-gallon containers along major downtown streets surrounding the GWCCA campus, hotels and restaurants to enhance event recycling. For back-of-the-house recycling, the GA Dome is adding 150 temporary bins.

Communication tools and public service announcements are in development to educate fans about recycling, public transportation and other green initiatives associated with the games. On Sunday, April 7 a bike valet is scheduled to encourage and educate on human-powered transportation options, especially for local fans.

To keep the event production carbon-neutral, Renewable Energy Credits will be purchased from Georgia-based sources to offset GA Dome and Phillips Arena game days. 

In addition, volunteer shirts and lanyards are made from recycled material. Banners will be repurposed post game. Electronic communication is used as much as practical with volunteers and fans; printed material includes a recycling reminder.

These green footsteps are destined for long-term impact ranging from the tree planting to fan education on responsible daily action. Atlanta showcases the community team spirit necessary for success where all win, including the environment.

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