NASCAR: Leading Sport and Business in Sustainability
In just under four years, NASCAR and its stakeholders have made substantial environmental improvements and technological advancements and continue to set new benchmarks. NASCAR has not only become a leader in green initiatives across all sports, but a leader within the business community.
NASCAR has the largest recycling and environmental sustainability programs among all U.S. sports. NASCAR has the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility, a tree planting program capturing 100% of the emissions produced by on-track racing, and the largest recycling program in sports with Coca-Cola Recycling, Coors Light, Safety-Kleen and Creative Recycling.
As NASCAR Green enters its fifth year, it continues to educate NASCAR fans and reduce the sport’s environmental impact through strategic partnerships with the teams, tracks, and Official Partners while validating green technologies.
Leading the way in 2011 was NASCAR’s ground-breaking partnership with Sunoco and the American Ethanol industry. NASCAR launched its long-term biofuels program to reduce emissions of the fuel used in all its racing series. NASCAR’s three national touring series began using Sunoco Green E15, a renewable fuel blended with 15% American-made ethanol from American-grown corn. Sunoco, the Official Fuel of NASCAR, manufactures blends and transports this renewable, low-carbon fuel that emits 20% less greenhouse gas emissions than unleaded gas. After completing more than two million miles during NASCAR races using Sunoco Green E15, teams report an increase of up to 10+ horsepower. These reports validate the fuel qualities and environmental impact of ethanol as a fuel to the millions of NASCAR fans as well as the general American public.
NASCAR also has the largest tree planting program in sports. The NASCAR Green Clean Air Program plants 10 trees for each green flag that drops during races, capturing 100% of the carbon produced by the on-track racing. The program debuted at 11 tracks in the 2009 Sprint Cup season, and in 2010 expanded to plant more than 1,000 trees to balance the carbon produced by racing. In 2011, the initiative expanded to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, and now encompasses more than 26 tracks nationwide.
NASCAR Green extends to the sanctioning body’s operational practices as well. NASCAR recently moved in to two new LEED certified office buildings, the 20-story NASCAR Plaza in Charlotte (Silver LEED) and the new International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach (Gold LEED).
Prudent Partners in Corporate Citizenship
At track, Coca-Cola and Coors Light educate fans on the benefits of recycling and encourage them to drop plastic bottles and aluminum cans in designated bins. Bottle and can recycling has expanded to include the grandstands, concourse, suites, garage and campgrounds at almost every track NASCAR visits. Freightliner provides a BlueTec equipped clean-Diesel rig to pull the Coca-Cola Portable Processing Center, which processes 1,000 containers per minute at the venues.
Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., the Official Environmental Services Supplier for NASCAR, provides oil recycling and re-refining services to more than 200 NASCAR-sanctioned races a year, ensuring that all oil and lubricants used in racing are recaptured and re-used. Safety-Kleen collects and re-refines more than 200,000 gallons of race-used oil annually. The company continues to provide absorbent products used for cleaning fluid spills inside NASCAR garages.
Goodyear – The Official Tire supplier of NASCAR’s top three series facilitates a responsible recycling program for tires used on NASCAR stock cars and trucks. After race weekends, tires are transported to Charlotte, NC and receive first-phase processing onsite. The recycled material is sold to various industries for next-generation usage such as power generation and for asphalt mixtures. Approximately 121,000 tires in NASCAR’s top three national series combined are recycled each year.
As title sponsor of NASCAR’s premier national series, Sprint is committed to being a good corporate citizen through its green efforts, evident at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events through “Recycle for Victory,” a wireless-recycling program that benefits a key NASCAR charity – Victory Junction. “Recycle for Victory” helps protect the environment by reducing the number of used cellular phones that end up in landfills. Fans who visit The Sprint Experience, the company’s mobile marketing display in the midway at every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, can pick up a pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope to recycle their used cellular phones, batteries and accessories, from any carrier and in any condition. Since 2001, Sprint has recycled more than 24 million phones, which equates to more than 2,600 metric tons of material.
On-Track for Success
On any given weekend NASCAR Green and Official Partner programs are templated at tracks across the country, but most tracks have taken additional steps by launching their own groundbreaking programs.
In July 2010, Pocono installed a 3-MW solar farm to power all the track’s energy needs and support the local energy grid. With 40,000 solar panels on 25 acres of land next to the track, the Pocono solar project is the biggest renewable energy stadium project in the world, twice the size of the next-largest project. The solar panel system is the track’s primary electric energy source while also benefitting the local power grid by powering more than 250 homes (and lowering CO2 emissions by 2,370 metric tons annually).
Darlington Race has planted 25 acres of switch grass on its track property in conjunction with Clemson University. Switch grass can be easily converted into bio-diesel and other types of fuel. The track also owns several acres of protected wetlands and fully complies with all government regulations in order to maintain the integrity of the wetlands.
Infineon Raceway turns back the clock when it comes to landscaping. Nearly 3,000 sheep live on the property to maintain the grasses and fire lanes around the facility. The raceway also built 15 owl boxes to encourage the birds to nest and hunt for gophers and other rodents, eliminating the need for pesticides. As a modern touch, the facility features nearly 1,700 Panasonic solar panels capable of offsetting 41 percent of the raceway’s energy use.
New Hampshire International Speedway
New Hampshire International Speedway has more than 520 acres of permanently protected conservation land located throughout the 1,200-acre facility. These habitats provide natural environments for many species of animal and plant life native to the state.
Michigan International Speedway
Michigan International Speedway is committed to environmental management practices to provide a healthy and sustainable environment and enhance the lives of its guests and employees. MIS was the first sports facility in Michigan to join the Michigan Business Pollution Prevention Partnership (MBP3) and is a member of the federal program EPA WasteWise. A race weekend recycling program with the help of Coca-Cola has collected more than 71 tons of plastic, aluminum and paper since 2008.
Green Team Homes
NASCAR teams have invested in substantial environmental improvements while balancing on-track performance. Improvements include state-of-the-art recycling programs, LEED certified facilities and cutting-edge technology.
Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway is the first team to equip their cars with 3M Novec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid, an environmentally sustainable fire suppressant. 3M researchers developed Novec brand products to be a safe, sustainable chemistry used to replace ozone-depleting substances or those chemistries that have high global warming potential and undesirable toxicity.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
As part of General Electric’s paint scheme on the No.1 Chevrolet last year and their ongoing partnership with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, GE installed new lighting fixture and bulb technologies in both their Concord, N.C. and Indianapolis, Inc. race shops. These changes translate into an environmental impact equivalent to adding 93 acres of forest or removing 65 cars from the road for a year.
Kyle Busch Motorsports
Kyle Busch Motorsports’ opened a new 77,000-square-foot corporate headquarters that is on the path to LEED certification. This state-of-the-art facility houses the latest technology in geothermal heating and cooling, cocoon insulation, solar controlled glass, and LED lighting that reduces energy consumption.
No Checkered Flag in Sight
NASCAR Green is growing faster than ever. The sport is constantly creating new programs, identifying potential partners and setting new benchmarks that allow it to take positive steps toward reducing the sport’s impact on the environment.
Last November NASCAR held its first-ever NASCAR Green Summit to focus on industry accomplishments but, more importantly, help lay the foundation for future growth. NASCAR President Mike Helton delivered opening remarks that were followed by a day of presentations and panel discussions that included key influencers and sustainability experts both within the industry and from the sports Official Partners.
In February 2012, Creative Recycling Systems, Inc. (CRS) joined NASCAR as an Official Green Partner. Creative Recycling provides electronic asset disposition management, data security services and by utilizing state-of-the-art processing and separation technology, CRS prevents millions of pounds of electronics from entering the world’s landfills each year.