With a strategy to improve our sustainability credentials, we are making the necessary steps to become more environmentally conscious.

As our COO, Jonny Turner discussed in a recent article, sustainability is more important in sport than it has ever been before. Governing bodies, event organisers, and clubs at all levels are taking action to assess and remedy their environmental impact to tackle the mounting climate crisis.

Earlier this week, the UN released its climate crisis report, which highlighted once again the urgent need for severe political and cultural change if we are to “avert a climate disaster”. This year we are thoroughly evaluating our own sustainability policies and credentials, making important changes to the way we are working now, and establishing what steps can be taken to become a more environmentally conscious business.

Read on to find out more about some of the steps we have taken.

Understanding our carbon footprint

Like most businesses, our first step was to understand the company’s environmental impact and Zellar, a sustainability platform, has been key to helping Sport:80 achieve this. Zellar has a community of over 1,000 organisations, ranging from The Wildlife Trusts to Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons hotel and restaurant. They also specialise in a helping sports organisations plan, activate, measure, report, and share their sustainability strategies.

By working with Zellar, we have been able to build a clear picture of our carbon footprint, and to then develop a sustainability roadmap and implement behavioural changes within our organisation. In short, it has very quickly helped us understand the most effective ways for the business to become more environmentally friendly.

It is also worth noting that Zellar is currently offering sports organisations free access to their platform for a year (worth £299) with the discount code ‘SPORT80’, automatically applied at checkout by following this link.

Through use of Zellar, we have broken down our sustainability roadmap into five key areas: our technology, our suppliers, the workplace, business travel, and carbon offsetting/removal.

Reducing the impact of our technology

We have taken the time to understand the environmental impact of our technology.

We started with the carbon footprint of our website using ‘Website Carbon Calculator’, a free tool which calculates the carbon emissions attributed to a website and provides suggestions on how to make it cleaner. As a result we have committed to make our website more efficient, including improving loading times which are typically linked to the size of images and other assets used.

In most cases images are the single largest contributors to ‘page weight', and we are going through our site to ensure that any images used are absolutely necessary, and also reducing the file sizes of the images that are used. Tools like 'Squoosh’ can be particularly useful in this area, as they can help to retain image quality while significantly reducing file sizes which, in turn, reduces the carbon footprint of our website. Alongside this, we are also investigating switching to a greener host for our website.

We are doing more than just reducing image sizes on our website, though.

Our technology solutions, including the Sport:80 Platform which has over 1 million active users, are hosted using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Through use of Amazon Web Services, we can very quickly understand how much CO2 our solutions are producing year-on-year from a dedicated ‘Carbon Footprint Reporting’ tool. This allows the business to understand how it can potentially re-architect solutions and free up unused resources. Progress made in this area meant that in 2022, the Sport:80 Platform officially became carbon neutral.

AWS has also committed to powering all of its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025, and research has shown that it is already 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median of US enterprise data centres surveyed, and up to five times more energy efficient than the average in Europe.


Working with sustainable suppliers

We are also committed to ensuring that we work with suppliers who source and operate sustainably. It’s incredibly important to the business that the suppliers, services and solutions we use as a business share our sustainability goals.

For example, Atlassian, a company whose team collaboration and project management software is used extensively at Sport:80, has also achieved 100% renewable for the last several years, as was outlined in their 2022 Sustainability Report.

Similarly, Stripe, whose financial services software powers all payment functionality within our Platform, have not only developed carbon removal solutions encouraging their customers to be more carbon conscious, but have themselves committed millions of dollars to funding carbon removal projects.

Making strides in the workplace

Our focus on technology and suppliers represent just a part of our approach to improving sustainability credentials. There are a number of policies and initiatives which we have implemented in the workplace including:

  • 100% renewable energy plan for office premises
  • Low energy LED lighting installed
  • Office recycling policy
  • A ‘paperless’ policy to minimise use of paper
  • Installation of hand dryers
  • Dual flush toilets
  • Recycled toilet paper sourced from 'Who Gives a Crap'
  • Ban on single-use plastics
  • Reusable coffee cups and water bottles for all staff
  • 'Podback' recycling for coffee pods
  • Cycle to work scheme for staff
  • Access to electric charging points

Our company policies will continue to evolve in order to reduce the environmental impact of the business premises and staff while at work. We are already exploring ideas related to more efficient use of heating and air conditioning systems as well as a salary sacrifice scheme for electric cars.

Reviewing our approach to business travel

Using Zellar, we were able to quickly determine that business travel accounted for almost 75% of our carbon emissions in 2022, so it is clearly an area where we can make some substantial improvements.

Like many businesses, the pandemic gave rise to our hybrid workplace policy which many members of the team continue take advantage of. The knock-on effect is that for a number of days each week, the commute is now a walk to the home office rather than a journey on the roads to Sport:80 HQ. We also encourage the team to adopt a more sustainable approach to commuting when travelling to the office, and many choose to use public transport, walk or cycle. Alongside this, we are also looking to introduce a salary sacrifice scheme for electric cars through 'Octopus', so those that drive can do so in a green way.

The most sizeable contribution to Sport:80’s carbon footprint is national and international travel, primarily when visiting clients. Again, the pandemic changed the way we engaged with clients, seeing a significant shift away from in-person meetings to Teams, Zoom, etc. This demonstrated that much of what we do can be delivered remotely, and has led to a review of our business travel.

We are committed to making more efficient travel choices including being regimented with our plans and extending stays to meet with multiple clients in a single trip. We are also introducing client get-together events across the year to bring everyone together at a venue where travel is minimised.

The changes are designed to reduce the number of miles traveled by car and plane by members of the Sport:80 team each year. We realise that this is perhaps the most challenging element of our sustainability credentials to improve, however we are already beginning to see the impact due to this change of approach.

Offsetting our carbon footprint

At Sport:80, it is a priority that we always look to reduce our carbon footprint. It is something we have control over and can measure effectively over time. We then wanted to support carbon offsetting, biodiversity and other environmental projects as an additional measure.

Through our research we have found that the effectiveness of carbon offsetting initiatives is a contentious issue and can be a minefield for businesses. There are so many organisations through which you can support projects to offset your footprint, but findings those that are legitimate and effective can be difficult. Even the most reputable come with their critics.

With this in mind, we established some criteria around the projects we intend to support this year. This included ensuring that the projects was able to offer one or more of the below:

  • It has an immediate and lasting impact on reducing or removing carbon
  • It enables the business to quantify the impact of its support
  • It allows the business to have a hands-on approach to its support

With the above in mind, firstly we have chosen to support a number of global projects through 'Gold Standard', which is a certification standard for offset projects. It was established in 2003 by a group of NGOs including the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) and focuses on supporting high-impact offset projects that are fully traceable and certified. 'Gold Standard' supports projects around the globe in the areas of renewable energy, reforestation, clean cooking, and more. We have decided to support a number of projects that will offset the equivalent of our current carbon footprint.

It was also important that we also focus on projects that are closer to home, and are now in the process of becoming a ‘Peak Partner’. This initiative enables businesses to support the fantastic work of the Peak District National Park Foundation to protect and conserve the National Park which is on our doorstep in our hometown of Sheffield. We are also planning to offer our time as part of this initiative to volunteer and support the Foundation’s projects.

We are also going to show our support for another local organisation in the form of the South Yorkshire Climate Alliance (SCA), a group of local organisations and individuals who are committed to tackling climate change in our region. Supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, SCA runs various campaigns and events throughout the year which are focused on effective action against climate and nature emergencies.

Establishing sustainability targets in both the short and long term

We believe it is vital to regularly review our approach to the company’s environmental credentials to ensure that we are following the latest advice and that the projects we support are continuing to have a profound impact on steering us away from the climate crisis.

Current and future Sport:80 business strategies have sustainability and environmental consciousness at their core. Our work with Zellar has opened the door for us and has allowed us to establish a blueprint for how we can become a more sustainable organisation, and while we have already made and planned some significant steps, we have ambitions to do more.

This includes goals to achieve net zero, reducing business travel to a minimum, becoming an entirely plastic-free business, and to champion sustainable practices by becoming a recognised ‘B-Corp’ company, which verifies businesses as having met high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

Whether it is achieving certifications such as 'B-Corp' or doing your bit towards the 17 ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ laid out by the United Nations, we all have a part to play and must do everything we can to try and make a difference.