Gopher Athletics Recognized as Sustainability Leader
TCF Bank Stadium was the first football stadium in the United States to earn LEED certification

Aug 27, 2013

A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council examining innovative sustainability efforts recognized the University of Minnesota Athletics Department as a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency. The report, titled Collegiate Game Changers, named Gopher Athletics as one of five innovators in energy efficiency.

More than 200 college sports programs, including leaders from the Big Ten, Pac-12, Ivy League, and SEC athletics conferences, are now prioritizing greener practices such as installing solar panels, undergoing energy efficiency audits and water conservation upgrades, and collecting recycling and composting at games. 

"College athletics and recreation programs are leading the sustainability charge," says Alice Henly, coordinator of NRDC's collegiate sports work and author of the report. "They're developing high-performance, high-efficiency buildings and practices that help mitigate climate change and conserve resources. And these greener initiatives are engaging the broader college community.  Students, staff, and fans are all participating."

Collegiate Game Changers, produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council in collaboration with the Green Sports Alliance and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, documents for the first time the breadth of sustainability measures underway at collegiate sports departments all across the country.  It features 10 case studies of college sports programs employing more sustainable techniques to manage their energy, water, waste and purchasing. The findings provide a roadmap for sports departments, students and staff interested in adopting sustainability strategies.  And the report documents the bottom-line benefits of greening and the role of sports in transforming sustainability measures on college campuses.

"We're honored to be recognized for our commitment to sustainability," Director of Athletics Norwood Teague said. "Both Gopher Athletics and the University of Minnesota take very seriously our responsibility to the environment and the Minnesotans who inhabit it."

Thirty schools are highlighted in the report for their leadership in sports greening. The 10 detailed case studies feature the University of Colorado Boulder, University of North Texas, the Ohio State University, University of Florida, Arizona State University, University of Oregon, University of Minnesota, the University of Arizona, University of Washington, and Yale University.  

The report also emphasizes the cultural impact of these initiatives on millions of students, who are now composting more frequently, riding bikes to the stadium, and cheering under LED lights and solar panel rooftops. In fact, it is often the students who are leading sports greening efforts on campuses nationwide.

The complete report is available online from NRDC at:


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