Environmental Innovator Winner: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Office of Sustainability

Environmental Innovator Winner: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Office of Sustainability
June 7, 2017
Posted by:
Kelley Martin

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis(IUPUI) Office of SustainabilityDescription of Project or Initiative: Please describe the program or initiative and how the applicant is leading the industry in encouraging environmental and social change in 500 words (4000 characters) or less. Be sure to include how the project or initiative embodies the 2017 Green Sports Alliance Summit Theme, PLAY GREENER ™: Engaging Fans, Athletes, and Communities.

From June 18-26, 2016, the IU Natatorium at IUPUI played host to the 2016 Olympic Diving Trials.  Fresh off a $20 million renovation, the Natatorium’s Olympic debut encouraged more than going for gold – it also encouraged going for green through its Zero Waste Initiative.  Working with 10 campus and community partners, the IUPUI Office of Sustainability, led by Jessica Davis, galvanized efforts to make the Olympic Dive Trials the first zero waste athletic event in Indiana and the first zero waste Olympic event in the world.

Operational changes in the facility included altering in-venue food and product offerings to minimize trash, an innovative re-design of the concessions menu to reflect end use of items purchased, installing new waste infrastructure and signage, altered back-of-house waste management processes, developing a communications and social media campaign in collaboration with USA Diving and the Olympics Local Organizing Committee, print material creation, and recruiting volunteers to assist with the effort.

Engagement programming included a waterway restoration project the day before the Dive Trials, attended by over 30 individuals.  The fan engagement area - the “H2O Zone” – included opportunities for fans to learn about zero waste, play interactive games, and take zero waste selfies.  Additionally, volunteers walked the facility during the event to engage with fans around topics of recycling and compost. As a result of these operational and engagement efforts, the Natatorium achieved its zero waste goal with a 93% waste diversion rate.    

The Zero Waste Initiative at the Natatorium embodies the theme of PLAY GREENER.  Over 10,00 fans and athletes learned about and participated in the zero waste effort, including Team USA diving heroes David Boudia and Steele Johnson.  With 10 community partners involved – IUPUI Sustainability, IUPUI Food Services/Chartwells, IUPUI Campus Facility Services, IU Herron School of Art + Design, IU Natatorium, Indiana Sports Corp, USA Diving, Olympic Local Organizing Committee, Ray’s Trash, and GreenCycle of Indiana – the impact of this program was felt across the Indianapolis athletic community, as well as the Olympic community. As a result of this program’s success, future athletic events hosted in Indianapolis are now considering sustainability early on in the process, rather than as an add-on, local professional teams have contacted Jessica for information and assistance with their in-house sustainability operations, and future athletic events hosted on campus are exploring the opportunity to engage their fans and athletes in similar sustainability programming.

The Zero Waste Initiative at the Natatorium is an exemplary example of the positive impact collaborative efforts can have on sustainability, and we are looking forward to working with our community to grow sustainability in athletics in Indianapolis in the future.

If possible, provide qualitative or quantitative data that demonstrates the environmental or social impact of your project.

(1) Fans/athletes engaged: 10,000+
(2) First zero waste athletic event in Indiana
(3) First zero waste Olympic event
(4) Waste diversion rate: 93% (1975 lbs recycle; 740 lbs compost; 175 lbs trash)
(5) Partners engaged: 10 (5 campus; 2 for profit; 3 non-profit)
(6) $160,000 in sponsorship dollars