Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie calls on sports teams to champion sustainability

Four time Olympic gold winner Sir Ben Ainslie has called on the UK's sporting organisations to raise the profile of sustainability, as the Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) sailing team's new energy efficient headquarters in Portsmouth reaches its final stages of construction.

BAR team principal Ainslie called for sports teams to use their position in society to draw attention to environmental issues and help inform the public about the importance of sustainability.

“As societal role models, sports teams are in a privileged position,” Ainslie said. “They have the power to drive positive change through setting an example and drawing attention to the issues that matter, such as sustainability.”

“As a team we are striving to become a truly sustainable business, however our ambitions extend far beyond this. We want to lead the way be educating and inspiring younger generations to drive sustainability forward.”

Clean energy

The BAR team’s new £15m Portsmouth facility will house the all the team’s activities while aiming to promote innovation and sustainability, with a visitor centre providing a showcase for sustainable practices.

Working with partners Low Carbon, a UK renewable investment fund, BAR’s headquarters will also be fitted with solar panels which will contribute 130,000kWh per year for the team’s energy needs.

The solar PV installation will save more than 60 tonnes of CO2 per year and help the building achieve BREEAM Excellent standard, an industry certification for sustainable building design, when the facility is completed in September.

Low Carbon co-founder and chief executive Roy Bedlow said, “Sports teams such as BAR can play a powerful role in educating consumers about the need for greater sustainability and driving positive change.”

“Continuing to educate consumers is the key to unlocking greater adoption of renewable energy across businesses and households.”

Raising the BAR

BAR was launched in 2014 with the aim of bringing the America’s Cup, sailing’s prestigious trophy, to Britain. The sailing team was awarded an ISO 20121 certification for sustainability across all its operations in February during a visit to the team’s construction site by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Last week the team published its first ever sustainability report, which included stated aims of supplying 100% of the team base’s electricity from renewable sources, 100% non-hazardous waste delivered to landfill and ensuring BREEAM Excellent standards for water consumption at the team base.

The team also plans to ensure all staff receive sustainability training annually.

For more on green innovations in sport, check out edie’s Greening the game: The world’s most sustainable stadiums.

Matt Field

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