ASC race goes "green"
HOUSTON - Aramco Services Co. (ASC) is entering its ninth year as title sponsor for one of the most popular half marathon events in the United States. And now the race – along with the full marathon and 5K – has been further recognized for its green initiatives.
The Houston Marathon Committee (HMC) that organizes the three races received a “Silver ReSport Certification” from the Council for Responsible Sport for its commitment to sustainability in connection to its activities during the 40th Annual Marathon weekend last January.
The HMC was also recognized with ReSport certification for its oversight of the U.S. Olympic Trials held the same weekend. This is the first ever dual certification awarded by the Council for Responsible Sport, an organization dedicated to creating new standards of environmental and social responsibility in sport.
“Our continued sponsorship of the Aramco Houston Marathon reflects the importance ASC places in supporting the communities where our employees live and work,” said Mae Mozaini, director of ASC Public Affairs. “Now we can be even prouder of this sponsorship because it further aligns with Saudi Aramco’s commitment to sustainability and the environment.”
Earning a ReSport certification is no easy task. The rigorous standards and measurement require significant effort on the part of the event organizers, sponsors, venue hosts, consultants and, last but not least, volunteers.
The criteria used by the Council were developed by a working group of 18 sustainability experts and reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders. ReSport certification is modeled after the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System, which is used to certify buildings and materials according to resource conservation and energy efficiency criteria.
Measuring a building’s energy efficiency is one thing, but how exactly do you measure a sporting events eco-friendliness?
“It first starts with a vision and commitment,” said Wade Morehead, executive director, Houston Marathon Committee. “Then, you must have an integrated planning process and, lastly, it requires a lot of attention to detail and a lot of documentation.”
That documentation included managing and measuring two waste-stream diversion rates, or simply put, the materials kept out of the landfill from the Marathon and Olympic Trials. In addition to the waste-stream metrics, the impact from a number of other environmental aspects was measured, including the event’s carbon and water footprint.
There were many successful sustainability initiatives implemented in 2012 that helped the HMC earn the certification. Stations for collecting recyclable bottles, cans and cardboard were set up. Compostable food service items and organic waste collection stations were established as well. Through the committee’s efforts, the diversion rates were 83 percent for the marathon weekend races and 79 percent for the Olympic Trials, which translates into a lot of material kept out of landfills.
Here are a few other impressive statistics:
An estimated 87 percent of all power used came from renewable sources.
Water conservation measures resulted in an estimated 20 percent less use of water because the race venue, the George R. Brown Convention Center, is a LEED Certified Building rather than a conventional building.
4,625 pounds of food from the post-race party was donated to the Houston Food Bank.
3,180 pieces of clothing discarded at the start of the races were collected and given to the Star of Hope Mission, a local agency dedicated to meeting the needs of Houston’s homeless.
All grey and black water from portable sanitation stations along the race routes were transported to a wastewater treatment plant.
The success of the Aramco Half Marathon is now matched by yet another success story. It joins the 39 different sporting events around the world that have achieved this eco-friendly certification to date.
For ASC, it reaffirms the partnership with the local community and support for environmental initiatives. In broader terms, it sends a message to the U.S. market that Saudi Aramco firmly believes in its global responsibility to make a positive impact on society.
Compostable food items were collected as well as recycle bins that were strategically placed throughout the Houston Marathon weekend's Health & Fitness Expo. Photo courtesy of Council for Responsible Sport.