The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to encourage its fans and its supply chain to support innovative green products and sustainable business strategies. NASCAR officials signed on to a memorandum of understanding with EPA earlier this week, committing the organization to promote public awareness of “environmentally friendly products and solutions to address America’s environmental challenges.”
The new partnership supports the President Obama’s recently announced National Bioeconomy Blueprint, which is designed to uncouple economic growth from dependency on fossil fuels, petrochemicals and other hazardous substances. In return, EPA will lend its technical assistance to help NASCAR implement and promote the agency’s business-friendly Design for the Environment and Economy, Energy, Environment programs.
NASCAR and the green transition
The new partnership may seem like the quintessential Odd Couple pairing but it will not come as a surprise to many NASCAR fans. Embracing new green products and practices is a natural progression for the sport, which has been a technology innovator since its inception.
While the sport may continue to burn petroleum products at a furious rate for the foreseeable future, that could be more than offset both by the sustainability-related actions of NASCAR venues and their supply chains, by drivers and their sponsors, and by fans who are motivated to make green choices by the changes they encounter at the racetrack.
NASCAR and green technology
NASCAR held a “Green Summit” last year in Miami, Florida on November 17th. Additionally, last month, NASCAR highlighted Ford’s new Focus EV by using it to set the pace at the Sprint Cup 400 series at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia.
Aside from adding interest for fans, the transition to green technologies and sustainable business practices enables NASCAR venues to boost their bottom line. Raceways on the NASCAR circuit are already beginning to adopt LEED energy efficiency standards to cut utility bills and some are installing their own solar arrays as owners seek to squeeze more revenue from vast stretches of shade-free parking lots.
One notable early adopter is the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, which has parlayed its green initiatives into a promotional tool that plays on its well known “Tricky Triangle” nickname with a new slogan, Go Green, It’s Not That Tricky.
Sports, business and federal partnerships
Pocono Raceway also illustrates the increasingly intricate web of green collaboration between corporate America and federal agencies. One feature of the raceway’s green initiatives involves a recycling partnership with the soda pop purveyor Pepsico, a company that helped to launch the Department of Energy’s Clean Fleets program last year.
Another racer on the circuit, Tayler Malsam, has joined with the actor Bryson to promote a new NASCAR road safety campaign for young adults that connects safe driving with “green driving” and environmental stewardship.
Sponsors take NASCAR for a green ride
A new Green Sponsor category indicates just how much organization-wide faith NASCAR has in power of green business to attract fans interest. The category kicked off in 2010 in the truck racing category with Pittsburgh-based Liberty Tire Recycling as the official sponsor of the MAKE Motorsports’ #50 Liberty Tire Recycling Chevy Silverado.
Earlier this year, electronics recycler Creative Recycling signed onto to the program and a company spokesperson noted that the partnership will enable it “to reach millions of concerned fans every week, fulfilling our mission of building awareness around the fastest growing waste stream in the world.”
EPA and NASCAR
EPA’s voluntary green business initiatives fit seamlessly into this backdrop. Similar to the EnergyStar program, Design for the Environment uses product labeling to provide consumers with an easy way to choose goods that meet standards for performance, cost-effectiveness and environmental safety.
The Economy, Energy, Environment (E3) initiative focuses on green supply chain issues that are also becoming familiar territory in the NASCAR circuit. By partnering with E3, NASCAR agrees to promote green lifecycle practices to its suppliers, including energy conservation in manufacturing, reducing packaging and other non-essential materials, and using more environmentally safe or biobased materials and products.
Promoting these two programs is just the start for NASCAR, which sees an opportunity to strengthen the sport’s economic foundation with additional green strategies including sustainable sourcing for raceway concessions, water conservation, waste reduction and recycling.
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