With a sport that is focused around racing vehicles, one may not think that racing could be a sustainable sport. I did not think that a sport which uses large quantities of fossil fuels and emits greenhouse gases (literally from start to finish) could ever be deemed as sustainable. However, NASCAR has taken several steps to make the sport exactly that - more sustainable. This blog provides a glimpse into the steps NASCAR has taken to make the sport “greener.”
NASCAR has launched a sustainability program simply named, Nascar Green. It has been in existence for five years now and aims to reduce the environmental impact of the sport. Part of the success of NASCAR Green stems from the many initiatives they have started and kept through the years. NASCAR now has the largest recycling and environmental sustainability programs among all sports in the United States. Allow me to give you more details on some of the initiatives NASCAR Green has implemented over the years...
NASCAR Implemented what is considered to be the largest recycling program anywhere in US sports and is made possible with the help of big names like Coca-Cola Recycling, Coors Light, Safety-Kleen and Creative Recycling. Thousands of fans are encouraged to put aluminum cans and plastic bottles in the proper bins located around the race track. Coca-Cola Recycling processes 1,000 containers per minute using their portable processing center. Safety-Kleen recycles and re-refines around 200,000 gallons of race-used oil for over 200 NASCAR races a year. These numbers speak for themselves.
Other successful endeavors include recycling tires used on NASCAR cars and trucks from the top three national race series. Goodyear brings around 121,000 tires annually to North Carolina to receive first-phase processing.
During a Sprint Cup event, fans can get a pre-addressed postage-paid envelope into which they can put their used or non-working cellular phones, batteries and accessories. These can be from any carrier, network or brand. Since this initiative started in 2001, Sprint has recycled over 24 million phones.
Now to capture 100% of the greenhouse gasses (GHG) emitted during a race (on-track), the NASCAR Green Clean Air Program plants 10 trees for each green flag that drops during each race. This program started with only 11 tracks on board with the idea. Now, it’s in 26 tracks nationwide. NASCAR adjusts the amount of trees they plant to make sure that there are enough trees planted to balance out the emissions released during their races.
As races come and go, the fossil fuels consumed during these races can make one wonder how NASCAR can be considered “green.” The answer is simple – biofuel. NASCAR partnered with Sunoco and the American Ethanol industry and started using Sunoco Green E15 which resulted in 20% less GHGs compared to using unleaded gas. This bio fuel is mixed with 15% US-made Ethanol derived from US-grown corn. The best part is that teams reported an increase of 10+ horsepower providing more action on the track.
NASCAR’s office buildings have also evolved into Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified structures. To be certified, the building must follow prerequisites and earn points to reach different levels of certification. So, the greater number of points, the higher the level of LEED certification. There are basically four (4) thresholds: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points), and Platinum (80+ points). Currently, NASCAR has two new LEED certified buildings. The first is the 20-story NASCAR Plaza located in Charlotte and the second is the International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach.
The NASCAR Plaza is a LEED Silver certified office tower. It has an awesome 360 degree panoramic view of the Charlotte skyline. One-third of the materials used to construct the building were manufactured from recycled materials. It also uses 30% less water than the conventional building and gets 35% of its electricity from renewable resources. Electric vehicle charging stations are available in its 2-level 1000 slot basement parking.
The Daytona Beach headquarters of NASCAR, GRAND-AM and the International Speedway Corporation is truly a sight to behold. Aside from being pleasing to the eye, it is also pleasing to the environment being a LEED Gold certified building. Situated directly across the Daytona International Speedway, the International Motorsports Center boasts of using materials with 24% recycled content, energy efficiency upgrades lessens energy usage by 20%, locally or regionally sourced materials, a special coating on windows to reduce heat transmission by 75% and has an open workspace design to bring the outside views to 90% of employee work areas.
NASCAR continues to bring sustainability into the sport and the venues they use either to house their offices or tracks where they hold their races. Either way, we will hear more “going green" news from them.