It is often supposedly small things that are decisive for the sustainability of an event: for example, whether there are enough bicycle stands available can be decisive for the choice of travel, says Environment Minister Stefan Kaineder (Greens). “We have to organize all areas of our lives in a climate-neutral manner, including large events,” sport would play an important role model here.
“Large and small sporting events often have a not inconsiderable CO2 footprint. From the journey to the catering to the energy consumption of the buildings and infrastructure,” says Ulrike Singer from the Upper Austrian Climate Alliance. The organization has been advising on the implementation of climate and environmentally friendly events since 2006. The “Upper Austria Ladies Linz Tennis Tournament” was also advised by the Climate Alliance and is considered a “Green Event Upper Austria”.
“More than a tennis tournament”
“We are more than a tennis tournament. We have social responsibility, receive funding and therefore have to give something back,” says sports manager Sandra Reichel. She also canceled a sponsor because he was not willing to meet the requirements, she says. Part of the sustainability concept included organic products and the use of e-cars, and recycling was also a major focus: An old wooden play floor was converted into stands, and children learned how to recycle old tennis balls in a handicraft corner.
The sports event was also awarded the Austrian eco-label by the Ministry of the Environment. There, for the first time, climate protection is being used when it comes to subsidies, says department head Dieter Brosz. Organizers must present corresponding concepts, which then affect the level of sports funding. There is still room for improvement in terms of federalism: In addition to the Austria-wide initiative “Green Events Austria”, there are sometimes different criteria in each federal state.
In 2008, the state of Upper Austria published a guideline on sustainability in the event industry for the first time – since then the importance of “green events” has increased rapidly. While only 29 “green” events were held in 2012, there were already over a hundred in 2019 – and the trend is rising, according to Provincial Councilor Kaineder. Criteria are climate-friendly arrival and departure options, organic and regional food (and meat-free options), waste avoidance and separation as well as resource conservation and accessibility.
Ice hockey and soccer are also included
Also part of the “Green Events” is the ice hockey club “Steinbach Black Wings Linz”. In its own charter, the association committed itself, among other things, to the exclusive use of reusable cups, consistent waste separation and the gradual conversion to green electricity.
In the new Raiffeisen Arena in Linz, too, special attention was paid to sustainability, as stadium architect Harald Fux explained. In the new home of the LASK, in addition to avoiding waste (no more plastic bottles), water management and durable material quality are used. But there is still room for improvement, says Fux: there is no PV system and the emergency generators will continue to be operated with diesel.
“When it comes to major events, the changeover is possible almost everywhere,” Provincial Councilor Kaineder is convinced. The goal is that at some point all events will become “Green Events”. This requires courageous organizers like Sandra Reichel from the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. The changeover “wasn’t easy,” she says – but many things turned out to be easier and less complicated than expected.