Tens of thousands of fans; floodlit stadiums and multi-million pound franchises – Premiership football doesn’t immediately spring to mind as the most environmentally friendly business. However, Manchester United has a vision to be the best Football Club in the World, both on and off the pitch, and has become the 250th company in the UK to net the Carbon Trust Standard for measuring, managing and reducing its carbon emissions, as part of the club’s commitment to cut its footprint by ten per cent.
Manchester United’s achievement of the Carbon Trust Standard, the only independent award for organisations that can verify that they are taking genuine action to reduce their carbon emissions, marks two years’ worth of environmental initiatives across the club and Old Trafford including:
- Running a number of initiatives to engage staff from ‘boardroom to boot room’, which included the development of a network of 23 ‘energy champions’ and a high profile awareness campaign with messages and posters featuring Sir Alex Ferguson stating ‘You can make a difference’.
- Extending the challenge to the club’s fans, customers and suppliers, with the ‘Reds to Green’ programme, which includes waste, recycling and transport reduction initiatives. The programme has ensured that any waste produced by Manchester United does not end up in landfill, but is sent for energy recovery via a local waste to energy plant. The club is also working with its local authority Trafford Council and the Greater Manchester Police with the joint aim of reducing congestion on match days
- Reducing energy consumption across Old Trafford through direct light ‘switch-offs’ on non-match days and optimising the control system for heating and ventilation of the stadium. Reducing lighting by 50 per cent in the North Stand tunnel alone is already saving the club £10,000 each year. For financial year 2008/09, Manchester United’s carbon management efforts helped the club save over £125,000 in electricity, £110,000 in gas and £235,000 in total energy use in seven months.
- Implementing a number of other eco-friendly initiatives such as the use of electric vehicles throughout the site.
In addition, since making a firm commitment in July 2008 to reduce energy use by 10%, the club has exceeded this goal by 6.9%.
Together these efforts have saved 1200 tonnes of carbon dioxide or CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere – equivalent to the carbon produced by 240 average sized homes within a year. Manchester United is also setting the standard for other clubs by looking at options for generating renewable energy at its training facilities and sites in future years.
Michael Bolingbroke, Manchester United’s Chief Operating Officer said:
“We believe that being a responsible football club means being part of our community in the widest possible sense. Our performance as an internationally recognised institution isn’t measured just by our success on the football pitch or our profitability as a business but by the contribution that we make to the local community and the wider environment as well. Achieving the Carbon Trust Standard demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement and to be an environmentally responsible club. This accolade is testament to the hard work and united effort of our energy team and Energy Champions across the organisation.”
As the 250th company to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard certification, Manchester United follows in the footsteps of other household names like Tesco, Hilton and BSkyB.
Harry Morrison, General Manager at the Carbon Trust Standard Company, said:
“Manchester United is one of the biggest brands in the world and we hope that the leaps and bounds they are making in cutting carbon will be an inspiration to other businesses. To become the 250th organisation to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard is a great accolade for the club and importantly, they’ve made a firm commitment to keep reducing over the next two years.
“They’ve gone beyond looking at the fabric of their own buildings and Old Trafford and instead have made energy efficiency part of the business itself. By taking this step they have encouraged a real cultural shift within the club and by involving staff at every level of the business, they have set a firm foundation to both meet and exceed their environmental goals.”
The club is also reaching out to its fan base to raise awareness of their own personal carbon footprint and actively encourage supporters to use public transport when they travel to matches.