The New York Red Bulls are in the most competitive marketplace in the US, so finding ways to do the little things to cut through the clutter and make an impact is not always easiest. One way they have is in their green initiatives, which may seem counterintuitive to a company based on adrenaline, but in many ways makes great sense, as environment is key for milennials and first adopters, an audience which soccer, and MLS, covets.
The Red Bulls Training Facility in New Jersey is the first facility in the country to be environmentally certified by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), the not-for-profit professional association for men and women who manage sports fields worldwide.
Following four years of development by STMA’s Environmental Committee, the Environmental Facility Certification Program rewards facilities that showcase ecological stewardship and sustainability practices.
“Our members are leaders in conservation and we now have the ability to support and promote our member’s commitment to protecting and preserving the environment,” says Jimmy Simpson, Environmental Committee Chair and Certified Sports Field Manager. “For the thousands of sports fields nationwide, this is an opportunity to highlight specific venues and its sports turf managers through an objective, standards-based certification process.”
At the helm of this prestigious certification for the New York Red Bulls was Assistant Groundskeeper Zack Holms, but acknowledges that this was a team effort.
“This environmental certification is an example of how well the New York Red Bulls organization operates, from the top down,” said Mr. Holms. “We set goals for ourselves at the beginning of each year, and obtaining this certification was at the top on our list.”
Holms had to first complete an initial online assessment followed by an on-site walk-through validation with an attester. The assessment covered 10 environmental practice areas, including storm water management; fertilization; pesticides/Integrated Pest Management (IPM); recycling; composting; mowing; energy conservation; shop buildings and storage areas; irrigation and water quality testing; and educational outreach.
To achieve certification, the New York Red Bulls Training Facility had to receive an 80 percent score within each section. This facility will remain certified for a three-year period, at which point a recertification process will need to take place.
STMA’s external focus on outreach for environmental stewardship began in 2010 with the appointment of an Environmental Task Group. By 2013, a general framework for the certification program was formed and, by 2014, the first pilot program was created.