Pac-12 Sustainability Conference


Photo Courtesy of Nina Borzoni: The 2018-2019 ASUU Sustainability Board who helped ensure the University of Utah as the host of the 2020 Pac-12 Sustainability Conference.

Nina Borzoni

Dotted over the west coast are twelve Universities that comprise the PAC-12, a sports conference that encourages advanced athletics and education from college athletes. Within the conference, each univeristy is a part of Team Green, a branch of the PAC-12 that allows the universities a platform to monitor their environmental impact and implement ways to reduce their carbon footprint. The PAC-12 Conference is the first sports conference in the US that has created and upheld a forever commitment to sustainability. For the past three years, there has been a yearly Sustainability Conference created by the PAC-12 Team Green. During the conference, representatives from the athletics and sustainability departments of each university share and exchange their knowledge and experiences through panels, workshops and presentations.


This past summer, the PAC-12 Sustainability Conference was held in Seattle, Washington, at the University of Washington. The school that hosts has a year to work with PAC-12 Team Green to create a conference covering topics that the school decides are the most important to discuss that year. Most speakers and panels are people who have had a unique experience concerning sports and sustainability, providing fresh perspectives each year. This summer, the conference addressed a range of topics such as staying dedicated in the fight for climate change and giving students the opportunity to actively take part in reducing waste in athletic events. Attendees sat down with companies like Repreve, who take recycled plastic bottles, melt them down, and weave them into clothing to be sold (some of which are available in the U’s Bookstore). Other topics of discussion were strategies in sports-sustainability marketing, integrating sports-sustainability research into class curriculum and achieving zero-waste in athletic events.


In 2020, the next PAC-12 Sustainability Conference is scheduled to be held at the University of Utah. The U’s Sustainability Office will be the main planners of the conference. This office works year-round to provide our yearly campus farmer’s market, they host Bike Week, and they work with students to educate and provide access for recycling during football tailgates. The U’s Sustainability Office is amazing in its focus to integrate sustainability throughout our community whilst ensuring those sustainability measures are available to everyone, regardless of their social or economic status. For this next conference, we can guess that the Sustainability Office will work to reduce waste by providing possible reusable or recyclable dishes and silverware, encouraging less paper usage and prioritizing public transit for transportation throughout the conference.


As the third consecutive year of this conference, there has been large growth and accomplishments from every PAC-12 university to improve the sustainability measures of their campus and sporting events. Next year, you should expect to see students from all walks of life at the U attend this conference and peek into the progressive window of sustainability in PAC-12 sports.