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Sustainable Football: Which Team is Greenest?




With Leicester City’s Premier League title win now feeling like a distant memory, it’s very much business-as-usual this season with the top spots filled almost exclusively with predictable names. It might seem that not very much has changed in the last few years. While this might be true of the results and the league table, there has actually been something of a quiet revolution going on behind the scenes as clubs begin to embrace sustainability.

But which club is greenest? Here, football fan and writer for Soccer Box Liam Houghton discusses the ‘greenest’ football teams in play today. Certainly some of the Premier League teams have stepped up their environmentally-friendly work but it seems that they are being outdone by their lower league rivals.

Manchester United

It may be the case that of all the Premier League teams, Manchester United is the greenest. This is a club that needs no introduction – but their environmental credentials are perhaps not as well-known as their successes on the pitch. The club has two environmental initiatives ‘United to Switch Off and Save’ promotes energy efficiency, while ‘Reds Go Green’ is focused on waste and recycling. Alongside these schemes, the club makes the effort to put its money where its mouth is.

Rainwater at Old Trafford is recycled and used to irrigate the pitch. The club also ensures that no waste products are sent to landfill as the stadium utilises an extensive recycling scheme and any materials that cannot be recycled are sent to a waste-to-energy plant. Any wasted food from match days is composted. And the Red Devils are even sustainability-conscious away from Old Trafford. Everything from office stationery and marketing materials to IT equipment and signage boards are recycled or sent for re-use.

United are also looking for ways to utilise recycled materials for artificial turf. Working with Apollo Tyres, the club recycled 2,200 tyres and turned them into an artificial pitch at their training ground.

Dartford FC

As you might expect, however, the Premier League teams – who focus more closely towards on-pitch success – can’t match some of the lower league clubs for sustainability. It’s possible that this title is claimed by Dartford FC who play in the National League South, the sixth tier of English football. 2006 was a landmark year for the club when they opened their brand new Princes Park stadium, which was purpose-built to be the UK’s first sustainable football stadium.

The stadium, which cost £6.5 million has an array of environmentally-friendly features including a grass roof, low-energy lighting, reclaimed rainwater and a solar panel system to provide clean energy. The club also encourages its fans to arrive at the ground by public transport rather than using cars to drive in.

It’s also worth noting that Dartford have a significant advantage over Manchester United in terms of environmental sustainability – and that’s the distances they have to travel. United need to travel everywhere from Sunderland to Southampton, but they also regularly compete in Europe, taking environmentally-costly flights. The vast majority of the teams Dartford FC play are within an hour or so of driving.

Forest Green Rovers

But perhaps going to a level beyond Dartford FC is Forest Green Rovers. Taken over by green energy entrepreneur Dale Vince in 2010, the club set itself the goal of becoming the most sustainable football club in Britain. This has included retrofitting their stadium, The New Lawn, to become exceptionally green.

The pitch is organic with no pesticides or man-made chemicals to keep the grass in a good state. Rainwater is collected to irrigate the pitch and solar panels have been placed in the roof to provide the stadium with green power. The players even carpool and use electric cars supplied by Nissan to reduce their carbon emissions. The club additionally made history in 2015 as The New Lawn became the UK’s first all-vegan football stadium – only vegan foods are available to purchase.

The eventual goal is to become a zero carbon football club and the team is currently looking into LED floodlights and additional ways to minimise waste and emissions.


5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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