For years, Roush Fenway Racing has been leading the way on the racetrack in NASCAR, with two Sprint Cup Series championships and 322 victories across all three series. However, Jack Roush’s famed organization has also been a leader off the track when it comes to sustainability and going green.
From the RFR campus in Concord, North Carolina, to the race cars that come back from the track each weekend, the organization is serving as a real example of how a race team can make a significant impact and make real change.
“It starts from Jack’s initiative, from his engineering business in Detroit all the way down to our race shop,” said Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion.
Starting in 1999, the Roush campus in Concord began making the move to becoming more environmentally friendly. By 2003, the team continued that trend by adding more sustainably designed buildings at the facility and changing their overall business practices to instill the idea of going green throughout the company.
A lot of those ideas have come from Ian Prince, the team’s director of facilities and chief sustainability officer. Roush Fenway Racing is the only team in NASCAR to have a Chief Sustainability Officer.
Prince, who has been a driving force behind the team’s sustainability efforts from the beginning, learned from team owner Jack Roush that leading the charge was a great way to set the company apart from the competition.
“Jack told me long ago, ‘The guy that gets there first will have the biggest impact and everyone else is just following,’” he said. “It was not only the right thing to do, but it is also cost effective.”
For the organization, it is all about the triple bottom line; balancing environmental protection, social responsibility and economic progress without impacting the on-track performance. Through their efforts, RFR has earned sustainability awards in Recycling and Energy Reduction.
Of all of the sustainable practices, Prince believes the company’s recycling program and solar farm have made the biggest impacts so far.
Today, the team recycles 96 percent of every race car that comes back to their shop. This is a multifaceted program, with parts being recycled in various ways. Raw materials such as metal are scrapped, the team reuses materials within the shop whenever possible, some items are sold to the lower division teams, and a small percentage of materials simply cannot be recycled.
However, the team’s recycling program does not end with the actual race cars.
Employees around the campus are highly encouraged to recycle in their everyday lives both at work and at home. While it took some getting used to at first, for many the practice has simply become second nature. The company’s intranet has useful information about recycling and the team also worked with county schools to develop a program to teach students about the benefits of recycling.
“We keep reinforcing it to our employees to show it is the new norm,” said Prince. “You always have to have a champion out there driving things.”
In 2014, RFR recycled over 98 tons of plastic, paper and metal waste. They have reduced the overall amount of waste produced by more than 11 tons.
“We’re very proud of what we’re able to do around our race shop with being conscious about our material usage and our recycling,” said Biffle. “We’ve done a lot of things as a race team to make a difference.”
In addition to the recycling program, RFR installed solar panels on the nearby airport hanger in 2010.
To date, the solar farm has generated more than 141,000 kWh of electricity through the photovoltaic panels, offsetting over 223,000 pounds of CO2 and nearly 2,600 trees. The team has also set up a web site (www.roushfenwayracingsolar.com) for anyone to see the energy being produced by the solar farm in real time.
For Prince, the decision to go solar was not only part of the overall drive to be sustainable, but it fit every category of the triple bottom line, especially economically. Working with NC Green Power, RFR is able to sell some of the power generated back to the grid.
“The building is just sitting there and creating revenue,” Prince pointed out. “It’s not much, but it also requires little to no maintenance.”
Going green and being more sustainable is not only helping RFR around the facility in Concord, North Carolina, it is also helping the team in the boardrooms while courting potential sponsors.
While the Race team Alliance and new charter system has brought NASCAR teams closer than ever, Prince believes RFR’s sustainability efforts give them an ace in the hole.
“Sustainability is something we have in our quiver other teams do not have. It gives us a leg up, he said. “It adds credibility when we go into a boardroom. Companies recognize the value in doing things in a sustainable way.”