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Sounders FC becomes first carbon neutral professional soccer team in North America

Seattle Sounders FC today announced that as part of its ongoing dedication to leading the way in sustainable, green practices, the club is going carbon neutral in 2019 and beyond, marking it as the first professional soccer team in North America to do so. Through this commitment, Sounders FC pledges that its operations will make no net contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading cause of the climate crisis.

To begin its path to carbon neutrality, the club worked with Seattle-based Sustainable Business Consulting to calculate its greenhouse gas emissions and develop plans to reduce its impacts where possible. For sources unable to be eliminated – such as team travel for matches, scouting and other business – Sounders FC is offsetting the club’s emissions through the Evergreen Carbon Capture (ECC) program of Forterra, a nonprofit that works for regional sustainability. Using the club’s contribution to ECC, Forterra and its partner DIRT Corps are joining with the team and its fans to plant hundreds of trees in a part of the region that needs added tree cover. This not only reduces carbon dioxide, but enhances air and water quality.

“We’re incredibly excited to announce that our club is officially carbon neutral,” said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. “The Sounders have always been committed to investing in our community, and that includes recognizing the immense responsibility we have as environmental stewards. Sustainability is a key pillar of our club and this new step is a logical extension of the efforts we have already had in place. We were pleased to work with Sustainable Business Consulting and Forterra in achieving carbon neutrality and look forward to continuing our partnership going forward.”

In calculating its footprint, Sounders FC worked to be as inclusive as possible, including all of the following emission sources:

  • Pioneer Square business office operations, including energy, waste, paper, shipping, recycling and employee commuting
  • Starfire office operations, including all emissions associated with operating the training facility for Sounders FC’s First Team, Tacoma Defiance and Sounders FC Academy
  • Air travel for First Team
  • Business travel and scouting
  • Emissions generated by fans traveling to and from matches
  • Energy use and waste from home games at CenturyLink Field

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In collaboration with Sustainable Business Consulting, the club first developed plans to reduce emissions where possible. After taking those steps, it looked for ways to mitigate the emission sources that remained, allowing Sounders FC to lower its climate impact beyond what can currently be achieved through internal efforts. By working with Forterra’s Evergreen Carbon Capture program, the Rave Green are able to not only directly impact the Puget Sound region by reducing carbon pollution and improving air and water quality, but to support a local non-profit and the local economy while creating meaningful hands-on projects in which the team and its staff, fans and partners can all participate.

To kick off the offset program, Sounders FC, SBC, Forterra and DIRT Corps are hosting a tree-planting event on Sunday, February 24 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. PT. Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, Sounders FC and Tacoma Defiance players will work alongside volunteers and representatives of Forterra and DIRT Corps to plant 370 Douglas fir, grand fir, western red cedar and western hemlock trees.

The plot, chosen expressly for Sounders FC, is located at Point Rediscovery on Hamm Creek in Burien. Hamm Creek is one of just two salmon-spawning creeks along the Duwamish River, and Point Rediscovery is an especially important part of the creek, intersecting with the estuary and providing habitat where juvenile salmon can feast and fatten before making their way to Puget Sound. Beside removing carbon dioxide and improving air quality, planting trees at Point Rediscovery will create shade, moderating rising water temperatures. The trees will also filter contaminants, improving water quality for fish and other wildlife.

Working on Hamm Creek has historical significance, as well. It was where restoration of the Duwamish River ecosystem got its start, driven famously by John Beal, a former Marine traumatized by the conflict in Vietnam. After returning, he poured his energies into caring for this forgotten and forsaken slice of nature. His efforts led to honors including a special commendation from the United States Senate in 2003. Additionally, the location serves a RAVE Foundation target community.

Volunteers interested in participating in the tree planting project can learn more and sign up at SoundersFC.com/Sustainability. No experience is necessary and all tools, gloves and training will be provided, along with light refreshments. However, closed-toe shoes are required. Volunteers are also encouraged to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and to dress appropriately for the weather.

Media interested in covering the event should RSVP with Kelly Schutz of Sounders FC Communications [KellyS@SoundersFC.com]. A separate media advisory with further details will also be sent closer to the event date.

Carbon neutrality serves a new step forward for Sounders FC, though the club has been dedicated to following sustainable practices in recent years, including the formation of an internal employee “Green Team” that discusses and implements green practices in the team offices and working closely with local nonprofit Washington Green Schools to find ways to empower youth to adopt sustainable lifestyles. Last season, Sounders FC and Washington Green Schools launched the “Rave Green Certification” program for schools across Washington State as a way to recognize schools that have demonstrated outstanding environmental leadership.

ABOUT FORTERRA
Dedicated to regional sustainability in all its dimensions, Forterra secures the places — urban, rural and wild — that are keystones of a positive future for our Pacific Northwest communities, both human and natural. A land trust, a social justice organization, and a policy innovator, over its thirty years Forterra has undertaken hundreds of projects that have secured and enhanced wildland, working forests and farms, city parks, and urban and rural land for livelihoods, housing and community health. Forterra’s Evergreen Carbon Capture Program helps area companies and households take positive action on the climate crisis by offsetting their carbon emissions through tree-planting.

ABOUT SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS CONSULTING 
SBC is a group of strategic advisors that help businesses drive innovation, uncover opportunities and enhance brand value by integrating sustainability. Headquartered in Seattle, SBC has helped over 150 organizations, ranging from Fortune 500s to Pro Sports Franchises, find ways to save money through better social and environmental practices. It has been named by B Corp as a Best in the World organization for three consecutive years.   

ABOUT DIRT CORPS
DIRT (Duwamish Infrastructure Restoration Training) Corps is a paid green-infrastructure job-training and leadership program for young adults. Multi-week modules cover rain garden and cistern design, construction and maintenance, urban forestry, and ecological restoration. The program reflects the diversity of South Seattle, including women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and underemployed and unemployed people. Graduates of the program have been hired by numerous local organizations, including Woodland Park Zoo, King Conservation District, and King County Wastewater Treatment.

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