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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Final Four green footprints continue after the games

As host to the 2013 NCAA® Men’s Final Four®, the second most popular sporting event across the globe, Atlanta was center stage in the world's sports arena April 5 - 8 . Over 100,000 people celebrated the 75th March Madness in downtown Atlanta at the games, concerts and events hosted in conjunction with the Final Four. The games were played at the Georgia Dome.

One of the Atlanta Local Organizing Committee stated goals was to make the 2013 Final Four the "greenest games ever." 

A veteran to sustainability initiatives, the Georgia Dome - one of three facilities under the Georgia World Congress Center Authority umbrella - is the Sustainable Food Court Initiative Event Venue PilotSister facilities include Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia World Congress Center, the nation's fourth largest convention center. The GWCCA hosted the 2009 acclaimed Zero Waste Zones press conference launching the groundbreaking program.

Sustainability Committee @
second last meeting  
In July, 2012 a sustainability committee comprised of civic and community leaders was formed. Tim Trefzer - GWCCA campus director of sustainability - chaired the ALOC sustainability committee and took the helm to achieving the "greenest games ever" goal. The ZWA Blog post, Green Footprints Before, During and After the Games, is a preview of the committee's green games plan.

Comprehensive in nature, the plan included green footprints before, during and after the games. Here is the impressive summary of the games' impact:

Before the Games:
Denise Quarles & Tim @
Final Four tree planting
photo courtesy of GWCCA

  • 14,351 lbs. of electronics were collected for recycling from the community.
  •  213 volunteers completed a green pledge committing to at least ten actions to be more sustainable during the Final Four.
  •  500 lbs. of textiles were collected for reuse at the City of Refuge and|or recycled by American Textiles Recycling Services.
  • 75 trees were planted in honor of the 75th celebration of March Madness in conjunction with Trees Atlanta and the Captain Planet Foundation.
  • Recycling in-place at primary venues including the "big six hotels," The World of Coca-Cola, and Philips Arena was verified by committee members.

During the Games:

  • Green-certified renewable energy credits (RECs) were purchased from Sterling Planet to offset the electricity (119,000 kilowatt-hours) used during the three games held at the Georgia Dome and the Divisions II and III championship games held at Philips Arena, as well as carbon associated with the eight teams traveling to Atlanta (128 metric tons).
  • 33.54 tons of recyclables were collected along the primary pedestrian routes downtown and from the GA Dome, GWCC and Olympic Park.
  • Final Four tickets were made with recycled content PVC and for the first time paperless tickets were offered.
  • The Final Four court floor was made of Forest Stewardship Council -certified wood and will be reused, repurposed, or recycled after the event.
  • Lanyards worn by volunteers were made of recycled content.

tote bag made from FF banners
photo courtesy of GWCCA
After the Games:

  • A minimum of 1,000 tote bags will be made from vinyl banners collected from the Georgia Dome and the street poles throughout Atlanta after the events concluded.
  • 75 trees will continue to thrive in a downtown Atlanta neighborhood and two city elementary schools.
  • 200 recycling containers donated by the City of Atlanta for the primary pedestrian routes downtown are available for future events.
  • Camaraderie among the committee members upon executing a well-organized plan for achieving "greenest games ever" status.
For in-depth details on the above recap, the Final Four Sustainability Report is available for download on the Elemental Impact Resources page under the Event Recycling section.  Comparisons to prior years along with recommendations for future Final Four hosting cities is included in the comprehensive report.

Thanks to Tim Trefzer's stellar leadership, the ALOC sustainability committee executed a well-organized plan with near perfection that is documented as a template for others to follow. YES, the 2013 Final Four Games held in Atlanta were "the greenest games ever!"

Saturday, June 1, 2013

SFCI - Atlanta Airport Pilot: ACTION Update

The Sustainable Food Court Initiative Team gathered in April at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Terminal F - the International Terminal - for a front and back-of-the-house tour of the food court operations. In a holding pattern since June 2012, the tour launched the SFCI - Atlanta Airport Pilot back into action mode. The ZWA Blog post, SFCI-Atlanta Airport Pilot: ACTION Resumes!, is a tour overview intertwined with pilot history.

With impeccable timing, Liza Milagro joined the City of Atlanta Department of Aviation as recycling coordinator weeks prior to the team tour. First on Liza's list was " to know the airport's trash, up close and personal."  For three weeks, Liza chronicled the traveler disposal patterns on the seven airport terminals and documented her findings on a color-coded airport site plan.

Liza Milagro
 Liza Milagro
AECOM - the airport's sustainability consultant - is in the midst of an airport-wide waste characterization study; Liza is working closely with their team. Preliminary results show organic waste, mainly food, comprises roughly 50% of the waste stream. 

Discussions are underway to create a viable short-run food waste collection program for the airport. In spring 2012, Greenco Environmental closed their composting facility and the closest food waste permitted facility is in Toccoa, GA, over 100 miles from the airport. Long-run plans are for an on-site recycling center, including an organics recycling system.

On another front, Pei Wei, a HMSHost food court restaurant in the International Terminal, participated in a kitchen hood filter system pilot designed to document the water usage and toxicity reductions with filter use. In addition to the environmental impact, the pilot quantifies the economic benefits.  

Grease build-up in kitchen duct
system prior to filter installation
Ei Partner Ellis Fibre designed a patented lambs wool filter that is placed in front of the hood baffle filters. Note the baffle filter purpose is to "baffle" flames to prevent entrance into the duct system and contain a grease fire within the kitchen. The Ellis Fibre filters collect 90 - 95% of the grease BEFORE it enters the ducts. Thus, grease build-up is prevented throughout the hood system and on the roof. In addition to a fire hazard, rooftop grease build-up may cause structure damage resulting in costly repairs for the building owner.

The pilot is complete and an independent engineer is documenting the results in a soon-to-be-published white paper. For details on the Ellis Fibre filter system, see the ZWA Blog post, Zero WATER Waste: more than a goal, a necessity. The pilot is Elemental Impact's first step in the Water Usage | Toxicity focus.

Working closely with Liza, the SFCI - Atlanta Airport Team will zero in on the International Terminal food court to create best recycling practices in a scenario where transient consumers are responsible for material source-separation. The International Terminal has several unique attributes:

  • twelve gates versus thirty plus gates on other terminals.
  • a loading dock with secured street access; other terminal loading areas are on the tarmac next to airplanes.
  • food court custodial service provided by SFCI Team member HMSHost; other food courts custodial services are third party contracts
  • ample back-of-the-house hallway space for recycling bins; in most cases, such space is non-existent in other terminals.

SFCI - ATL Airport Team
While the SFCI Team focuses on the International Terminal, Liza will work on a sustainability and zero waste plan for the entire airport. As the world's busiest airport for thirteen consecutive years, the Atlanta Airport employs 50,000+ employees - the size of a medium-sized city!

With her boundless enthusiasm grounded in practical experience, Liza  is perfect for the daunting task of creating an achievable Atlanta Airport zero waste plan. Working within the WE Consciousness and supported by visionary Michael Cheyne - Atlanta Airport director of asset management - Liza intends to create templates that other airports may modify for their unique circumstances.

Stay tuned for future SFCI - Atlanta Airport action updates!