Ben Ainslie Racing has put sustainability at the heart of its operating principles since its inception in 2014. The first partnership the team announced was 11th Hour Racing as their Sustainability Partner to help achieve their goals in this field and during that time sustainability manager Susie Tomson has been working hard to put together a comprehensive management system.
The team’s efforts have now been rewarded by the achievement of an international standard, ISO20121, providing a framework for delivery of sustainable operations throughout the team’s activities.
BAR is the only UK sports team to achieve the certification across all its activities.
Manchester United have attained the standard for their operations at Old Trafford, while the London 2012 Olympic Games pioneered ISO 20121.Sustainability manager Dr Susie Tomson explains: ‘We’ve involved a range of sustainability experts in our operations from the start, and the team’s leaders have made the resources available for us to focus on this.
‘In addition to our Sustainability Partner, 11th Hour Racing, we are also working with The Green Blue, KPMG, Low Carbon and Blue Foundation and with their help we have created a sustainability action plan with six priority focus areas.
‘Our performance in each of these areas is monitored and reviewed according to key performance indicators that were created with the help of KPMG and 11th Hour Racing.’
Tomson adds: ‘We have identified the most significant sustainability issues for the team as travel and transportation, waste production and energy consumption.
‘We will be working hard to reduce the negative effects of our activities in this area.
‘But we also have significant opportunities for creating positive change, specifically around sustainable procurement, construction and innovation.
‘The America’s Cup attracts more media and public attention than any other sailing contest, and we can use this spotlight to lead change.’
One example of what this means in practice is the team’s partnership with renewables investor Low Carbon.
Low Carbon will ensure the team’s headquarters – currently under construction in Portsmouth – is powered by the very latest, high efficiency solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.
The initial target is to supply 90 per cent of the team’s electricity power needs, with this improving to 100 per cent once energy monitoring is implemented.
A second example is the project to build a docking rib with City College Southampton.
The docking rib has been developed from those used at the 34th America’s Cup to help berth the huge, foiling multihulls. The students working on the ribs are mostly Level 2 and Level 3 apprentice boat builders and engineers, studying for City and Guilds qualifications.
Many of them work for local marine companies and attend the college one day a week, and will now have the opportunity to work on the project, and be part of BAR’s challenge.
The students are already taught to monitor the different material and wastage quantities as part of their curriculum – driving efficiency in the construction process is an important component of sustainability.
But the team has also looked for materials with a lower environmental impact than traditional resins and fibres, and is working with the college on natural materials such as flax (a plant material that has been used in marine applications for thousands of years), epoxy bonding resins with high biomass content (50+ per cent), and a recyclable PET core material that comes from plastic bottles.
These projects are both intended to directly reduce waste and energy consumption, but also to provide leadership for change, by inspiring young people and encouraging everyone that does business with BAR to do it with sustainability in mind.