A blueprint for a greener way of life

If a new eco-friendly training initiative that’s being trialled by the ParalympicsGB team is a success, we could all become champions of sustainability, says Mark Prigg

It could provide an eco blueprint for sporting events and even music festivals around the world.

The ParalympicsGB team is set to create environmental and sporting history later this year by running the first training camp to be accredited as sustainable. Organisers have already run test events to trial the energy-saving effort, and are hopeful the camp being held at the University of Bath late in August will break new ground for eco-friendly events. The camp will see 150 Paralympians and Paralympic hopefuls from 12 sports come together to train, and organisers have been working with EDF Energy and its ‘Team Green Britain’ initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of every aspect of the event, from waste to water consumption and even transport.

Penny Briscoe, performance director at ParalympicsGB, said she hopes it will lead to long-term changes in the way athletes live and train. “The ‘Green Team’ partnership with EDF Energy isn’t just about achieving success in the short term; we want to encourage a long-term change in the way that our staff and athletes think about the environment,” said Briscoe.

Click here to win one of five exclusive EDF EcoManagers

“The teams behind the different sports and the athletes themselves have been very positive about getting involved, so we’re hopeful we can make a real difference to the carbon impact of our activities. It’s certainly made the staff team at ParalympicsGB think about how we could be greener.”

The initiative has already been backed by some of Britain’s most famous paralympic athletes. “We want to strive for excellence to become a cleaner and greener team too,” said Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, who has been involved in the scheme. “The principles are the same – breaking down everything that we do, analysing it and seeing what improvements we can make, both individually and collectively.”

The team hopes to repeat its recent success – Britain has finished second in the medals table at the last three summer Paralympic Games and brought home 102 medals from Beijing in 2008, 42 of them gold. ParalympicsGB has been working with sustainability expert Toby Radcliffe, who is also a professional triathlete, to use the camp to develop a new accreditation scheme.

“We want to make the team and the camp as sustainable as possible,” said Radcliffe. “Our aim is to get the event accredited as sustainable, and we are working alongside the US Council for Responsible Sport to develop the process. A lot of our work is around carbon footprinting, but also the athletes themselves –we want them to go back into their communities and help spread the message.”

As well as their athletic training, athletes will also be provided with daily energy saving tips and invited to attend EDF Energy’s educational Low Carbon Arcade. The arcade features touch screens with interactive games and quizzes that visitors can use to learn about sustainability. At the camp there will be stationary bikes, both pedal and hand-powered, which athletes can use to power a lighting column, thus making a link between physical energy and electricity.

“For the athletes, it’s about preparing for 2012,” said Radcliffe, “But in my experience as a professional athlete, people who are already really focused and make a lot of behavioural changes to achieve their goals, in this case by following a strict training regime, are already very passionate and aware of these issues already. The message is definitely in keeping with living a healthy lifestyle, and the athletes have been very receptive.”

If the plan is a success, the camp could also have implications for everything from business conferences to music festivals. “What we want is for ParalympicsGB to become a true green team, and by setting a precedent we hope other teams and organisations around the world will follow what we are doing and be able to gain the same accreditation,” said Radcliffe. “This could be used at any multi-day event, from sporting to conferences, music festivals, and on a bigger scale, the Olympic Games themselves.”

The team has been working closely with the University of Bath, who will host the event. Professor Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath, said: “Everyone should be doing their bit to save the planet. The University is a leader in finding scientific and technical solutions for energy sustainability. The University is a leader in finding scientific and technical solutions for energy sustainability, and we were the first university in the country to win the gold standard from the Green Tourism Business Scheme.”

EDF Energy will also be sending dozens of staff to the games, acting as volunteers working at the camp and leading the education sessions. Gareth Wynn, EDF group director, 2012 programme, said: “Sustainability is at the heart of EDF Energy and we believe that the Bath training camp is a great opportunity to put some really tangible measures into action that will show how ParalympicsGB is leading the world, not just in sport, but in the race against climate change.

“The aim is to get athletes, coaches and the wider public thinking more carefully about how they use energy and become champions of sustainability in their own communities.”

Team Green Britain

The gadget measuring the Green Team

All of these athletes, and the camp itself, will use EDF Energy EcoManager devices to monitor and control appliances, and see energy consumption. These will be offered to all participating athletes and coaches. The EcoManager is a new wireless appliances controller that helps users to take more control of their electricity consumption. By not only giving users a better understanding of the relative costs of running individual monitored appliances but also the benefit of being able to switch them off remotely, the device enables users to achieve both environmental and cost-saving benefits.

EcoManagers will be installed throughout the camp itself and by incorporating the EcoManager into their daily routine, athletes will be able to take more control of their energy consumption, wherever their training takes them.

Training camp

The eco training camp initiative falls under EDF Energy’s Team Green Britain initiative, which is working with thousands of schools and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint ahead of 2012. The scheme has also linked up with colleges in East London as part of the Legacy Champions project, and is supported by London 2012 and Britain’s athletes. For more information, visit www.teamgreenbritain.org

Team Paralympics Great Britain: the athletes going green

Double-gold-medal-winning-swimmer Ellie Simmonds has turned to cycling to do her bit for the environment. “I like to ride my bike to and from training, as it makes me feel like I have done my bit for the environment, and at the same time helps with my health and fitness,” said Simmonds. She believes the benefits of cycling have even helped her relax.

“It helps me to wake up in the mornings and relax in the evenings. I also try to do my bit around the home and make everyday changes that have an impact on helping lower my carbon footprint – things such as making sure I switch off my favourite gadgets overnight. I’m an ambassador for EDF Energy’s Team Green Britain, as it’s a great initiative that builds awareness of how people can live a more sustainable lifestyle.”

Bristol table tennis player Will Bayley has attended previous camps, where many of the ideas were first trialled. “A more sustainable approach to our training and the camps fits perfectly with my mindset,” Bayley said. “It’s about stripping out the excess and waste and achieving our goals. We all have our faults, and I’m looking forward to working with experts to see how we can make changes that make a positive difference.”

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