The Championships ‘champion’ing ‘Green’ cause



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Hattie Park at Coliseum EUROPE 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Hattie Park, sustainability manager at Wimbledon makes a point right at the outset as to how the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) integrates consideration for sustainability in its corporate purpose in its pursuit to save the planet from the calamitous effects of global warming.

An authority on environmental sustainability, Hattie Park is the Sustainability Manager at Wimbledon and formulates their Environmental Positive strategy. She knows the mantras of sustainability and puts it to good use within Wimbledon.

Hattie Park, Sustainability Manager, AELTC (Wimbledon), UK, talks at length on the topic of sustainability in a conversation with ‘Coliseum’ and how Wimbledon is aiming to be ‘Environment Positive’ by 2030 and steps they will take to involve the athletes to attain its Environment Positive goals.
 

AELTC

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), also known as the All England Club, based at Church Road, Wimbledon, London, England (UK), is a private members’ club. It is best known as the venue for the Wimbledon Championships, the only Grand Slam tennis event still held on grass.
 

Wimbledon

The Wimbledon Championships, commonly known simply as Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely regarded as the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London (UK) since 1877 and is played on outdoor grass courts with retractable roofs over the two main courts since 2019.

Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. Wimbledon is the only major still played on grass, the traditional tennis playing surface. Also, it is the only Grand Slam that retains a night-time curfew, though matches can now continue until 11 pm under the lights.
 

Net Zero

Carbon neutrality is a state of net zero carbon dioxide emissions. This can be achieved by reducing emissions, most of which come from the burning of fossil fuels, and by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
 

Sustainability at Wimbledon

Hattie Park began by stating that the AELTC wants to be a “force for good” and environmental sustainability is an important contributor to this aim.

She added, “As a Members’ Club at our heart, today our goals are to maintain the Championships at the pinnacle of sport and to be a guardian of tennis. We also want to put our best green foot forward – aiming for net zero for operational missions, having a net gain on biodiversity and to be more resource-efficient; nothing should go to waste.”
 

Emissions

Park and her team’s objective is a sustainable future with abundant and healthy natural ecosystems. She affirmed that causes of emissions are wide-ranging, from operating facilities to sports people and fans travelling from different parts of the world to attend the Championships. “We have been tracking and reporting our operational emissions since 2019. Of course emissions dropped during the pandemic as the world shut down. With increasing activity, they have come back, but we have worked hard to run our operations more efficiently and have kept emissions below pre-pandemic levels.”
 

High Level Net Zero Pathway

Park maintained that attaining net zero is “a challenge for us all, but the key lies in breaking the task down to manageable projects. We will have to reduce and ultimately eliminate dependency on fossil fuels, in our case fuel and gas to provide heat, hot water and for cooking. And compensation for unavoidable offsets, such as those for flights of officials and players if done well can reap benefits. We are committed to achieving the net zero goal.”

Added Park, “Proper monitoring, LED lighting, electric lawnmowers which put those beautiful stripes on the grass courts powered with renewable electricity – these are a really important part of how we work. We are also generating some of our electricity with solar PV. We mustn’t overlook the importance of addressing embodied emissions – overall this needs to be embedded within the culture of the organisation.”

So committed is the AELTC to sustainability, that as Park informed, “We have menus which highlight the low carbon dishes to guests and also serve a wide range of vegetarian and plant-based (typically lower carbon) food to guests.”
 

Future regeneration and spaces for nature

She further informed, “We are planning to bring tennis to a parkland setting with our plans for Wimbledon Park. The plan is that the tennis courts sit within the clump of trees, their location determined by the landscape and topography. And as far as the embodied carbon is concerned, we have the chance to drive it down from the design phase; it’s an incredibly exciting opportunity.”

To further bolster their relationship with an international audience, in June 2022 the New Yorkers got a taste of the authentic Wimbledon experience “when the AELTC took ‘Henman Hill’ to Brooklyn in New York (US) – a great way to take the joy and collective experience of a live sporting event elsewhere, but with reduced impact.

Aorangi Terrace, commonly known as ‘Henman Hill’, alongside a series of other nicknames, is a mostly grassed banked area in the grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club where, during the annual Wimbledon tennis championships, crowds without show court tickets can watch the tennis matches live on a giant television screen at the side of No. 1 Court. The screens are surrounded by a huge living wall, home to 14,000 plants and deliberately planted with flowering plants to encourage pollinators.
 

Resource Efficiency

Continuing with its sustainability spirit, the AELTC is always trying to reduce waste generation and ensure what cannot be reused is recycled. To “help the guests the bin tops have been colour-coded and it made a real difference to not only the amount, but the quality of the recycling. It’s important to ensure sustainability initiatives are visible as well. Guests can’t see the behind-the-scenes things like purchase of renewable electricity, or reductions in embodied emissions, but they can see that we are trying to make things easy for them for the essential things like recycling.”
 

Resource Efficiency in Construction

Park pointed out that the AELTC’s Technology Services Room best demonstrates the sustainability elements with its “offsite construction, timber frame, natural ventilation, and the solar panels green roof. It’s designed and constructed to be dismantled, lifted and shifted, hence retaining its resources, Our Estate Development team replicates these principles in other projects and we are always learning and trying to improve.”
 

Sum-up

Hattie Park concluded by stating that a key to raising more awareness and pushing greater action lies in using the power of the athletes and in Wimbledon’s case, the tennis players, to help all of us in our sustainability missions – “We must all play our part in delivering an environment positive future, carrying on with the ‘Green’ spirit against all odds.”

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