2008 US Open Green Initiatives
August 27, 2008
BILLIE JEAN KING
JANE BROWN GRIMES
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ
CHRIS WIDMAIER: We have a very important announcement regarding the US
Open today, and I'm going to ask our Chief Executive Officer of
Professional Tennis for the USTA, Arlen Kantarian to start it.
ARLEN KANTARIAN: Welcome, everybody. We have a pretty special
announcement here today, and it's not about blue courts, it's not about
instant replay, it's not about the competition on the court.
It's about a bigger issue that I think is facing us all today. I think
many of you are familiar with our mantra here at the Open about creative
innovation and our status as a world class event.
I think today we're going to try to bring this innovative spirit to
something that's more important than what's just taking place on the
court. I think we all know big time sporting events create an enormous
platform, a unique platform, to educate a large number of people by
example about green initiatives.
You're soon going to hear about our plans to decrease this event's
impact on the environment and increase awareness of many of these
programs. And to do that, I think you know everybody up here. Our
President and Chairman of the Board, Jane Brown Grimes, our head of the
Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, our Managing Director, Danny
Zausner, and, of course, the one and only Billie Jean King.
I'm going to turn it over to Jane at this point to hear more about it.
JANE BROWN GRIMES: Great. Thanks, Arlen. Good morning, everyone. Thank
you very much for being here with us today. As you heard, we're going to
talk about the greening here at the US Open, an effort that is very
personally important to me, and I can assure you important to everybody
at the United States Tennis Association.
Our commitment with this global platform of the US Open, we have the
ability to drive important and long‑standing change, and we really need
to take advantage of that opportunity.
Given the size and the scope of this event, we actually have an
obligation to both lessen the environmental impact of our event and
heighten environmental awareness of all those that we reach. This
includes our fans, our sponsors, and our vendors. And you'll be hearing
more about this.
But I'm here to assure you that this commitment to this cause is
significant and meaningful and has come over a number of years. The USTA
has been looking hard at different areas of our operations, including
energy efficiency, where we've made real reductions in usage. Of course,
recycling, with more materials being recycled than ever before.
Transportation. Nearly of 60% of our fans now come to the Open via
public transaction. And other critical areas that will help reduce our
carbon footprint that you're going to hear more specifically about.
As the national governing body of tennis, it's important that we bring
this commitment to all our operations, not only here at the home of the
US Open, but our headquarters in White Plains and to our programs spread
across the country.
In fact, we plan to draw up a blueprint of best practices that will
share with our 17 sections around the U.S., and to the events in the
U.S. that we have an operating interest in. Our greater hope is that our
efforts will inspire other sports events around the world to engage in
these important actions.
We want to set standards, not just follow them. And now, allow me to
turn things over to the managing director of this entire facility, Danny
Zausner, who will play a critical role in the execution of these green
initiatives, and he will fill you in on the details. Danny.
DANNY ZAUSNER: Thank you everyone. Thank you for being here today. As
Jane mentioned earlier, we're not new to the commitment to the
environment. In the past several years we focused on three key areas:
Parks preservation, energy efficiency, and recycling initiatives. We've
taken our existing efforts, and now with the help of our new partners,
Environmental Resources Management and the Natural Resource Defense
Council, we are bringing a much more dedicated focus and dedicated
approach to all of our greening initiatives.
Let me start detailing some of our specific efforts. We've expanded our
partnership with Evian to include the recycling of more than 500,000
plastic bottles and 20,000 aluminum cans. With our energy partner,
Constellation Energy, all of the electricity used during the tournament
over a three‑week period will be supplied by wind power for the first
700,000 people use a lot of napkins. In fact, over 2.4 million napkins
this year alone, these napkins will be comprised of 90% post‑consumer
In partner with NRDC, we'll distribute a hundred roundtrip Metro cards
to fans each day of tournament. We've worked closely with Lexus, our
transportation provider, and 20% of the Lexus fleet on‑site during the
tournament will be hybrid vehicles.
Thanks to a new procedure, we can now, for the first time, recycle the
20 to 25,000 Wilson tennis ball cans, and as always the 70,000 plus
Wilson tennis balls will be reused in our tennis programs at the
national tennis center over the course of the next 12 months.
As you will see in front of us, we've displayed today highlights from
our organic product line, including organic cotton T‑shirts with
exclusive designs by Heidi Klum and our very own Billie Jean King.
Believe it or not, the hats you see are made from plastic bottles. Not
totally, but each of these hats actually contain the equivalent of two
20 ounce plastic bottles. If you want exact information on this, we have
scientists from the NRDC to help better explain this than I probably
To help our fans reduce the use of plastic bags in their everyday life,
we are offering a reusable tote bag for only $5. In fact, in only the
first two days of the tournament, we're thrilled to tell you that the
bag has become one of the most popular items that are being sold.
I mentioned park preservation earlier. We're committing a portion of the
proceeds from this organic T‑shirt line to benefit Unisphere, Inc.,
which just happens to be the very organization that helps maintain
Flushing Meadows Park.
Last but not least, NRDC has helped produced several player PSAs
featuring, Billie Jean King, Venus Williams and Bob and Mike Bryan.
These PSAs will be shown around the grounds on video boards and on
At this particular time, we're going to show you two of those PSAs.
DANNY ZAUSNER: We couldn't accomplish all of these initiatives without
the involvement and support of our many partners, and I'd like to
introduce to you our most significant partner and friend, Billie Jean
BILLIE JEAN KING: Thanks, Danny. Thanks, Jane, thank you, Arlen.
It's a great day today. How I got involved personally, is two years ago
on August 28th, '06, when the national tennis center was named, my name
‑‑ I get so embarrassed when I talk about this.
Anyway, when they named this 46‑and‑a‑half acre Corona Park, which is a
public park, after me, I was walking off the court, and I thought how
lucky I was to be alive that they hadn't named it posthumously.
As I walked off the court, I thought, you know, I've got to do something
within one year. I want to do some initiative, something that will make
a difference, make at least an announcement. About two or three months
went by, and Pam Derderian called me, and she and Nancy Becker do green
shows throughout the northeast. We started talking about it and about
environment and all that, so I said, Well, God took care of this
initiative, because let's do something.
Four of us came up with the idea of GreenSlam, Ilana Kloss was the other
person. The four of us got it started. But one of the great things is I
met the other people at NRDC, Frances Beinecke, and also Dr. Allen
Hershkowitz, who is here today.
I had talked to Jane, and Jane really was concerned with the environment
and making the US Open green. We talked, and also Arlen and Danny, and
this was going to be tremendous for your legacy, Jane, as the president
of the USTA that all of us are working together. So it's fantastic that
we all got in the room, the USTA, ERM, NRDC, and GreenSlam. A few months
This partnership has worked together very quickly, really kept our egos
out of it. Also, Mark Wilkins is here from ERM. He's the global managing
partner, and he was there. I mean, all these people worked together in
making it happen. It's just so exciting, because what we're trying to do
is make a difference.
And you say the PSAs. We were able to get those players during Team
Tennis actually to do it. So everything's been happening really fast.
But finally, if we just take small steps it will lead to big change, and
it's really great this partnership is together.
It's a very exciting moment for me personally. And just to hear Danny
what's happening through the operations of the US Open and of course
what Jane talked about will be national reaching, because of the
different sections that are involved, the different events that go on
every single day at the grass root level, as well.
I know at GreenSlam, our job is really to inspire the fans and the
athletes and the industry to create positive environmentally things
So those are the things that we really care about. So I guess, really,
we should go and just open it up, I guess, right, to questions.
But I just wanted you to know where I was coming from personally, and
how GreenSlam got started thanks to people calling me.
RITA GARZA: Thank you very much, Billie Jean. I'd like to introduce Mark
Wilkins, Global Managing Partner for ERM, and Dr. Allen Hershkowitz from
NRDC. You heard a lot of information Danny shared with you as well as
Jane and Billy Jean.
So if you have a technical question, we may direct it to our technical
advisors because that's what they've been so wonderful at with us. I'd
like to open it up for questions now to answer any questions that you
BILLIE JEAN KING: Well, what are we doing? Come on.
RITA GARZA: We're opening it up to questions.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Can I say one thing? A lot of people know what green
is? We say the word "green." What does that really that mean? It's
really doing small things every day. Today I went to the deli and forgot
my eco‑bag to carry my stuff in.
So I told the people, Don't give me the bag. I'll figure out how to
carry what I'm buying. That's just one little thing.
RITA GARZA: You need that tote bag, though.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Yeah. I know. We have those eco‑bags. Those $5
eco‑bags are going fast.
Q. Just two questions. One is about how much these shirts cost, because
everything here is very expensive, and I think it would be very good
idea to sell these things in order to have the most, biggest promotion
at the fair price. I think it's important. I think it would develop more
the name and these shirts and these bags and whatever. That's one thing.
The second question is if, while I really appreciate this initiative,
I'd like to know if this is only American or if Billie Jean King, since
she's an international icon, is she thinking about developing this in
all these Slams? Because I think all the other Slams would need the same
BILLIE JEAN KING: Absolutely thinking global, no question, with
JANE BROWN GRIMES: I can speak to that a little bit. Next week Thursday
and Friday are the Grand Slam committee meetings. They all meet here,
and I chair that meeting because we're at the US Open.
In my opening remarks I make a few statements in general about the event
and how it's going, but you can be sure that I'm going to be talking
about this initiative and some of the things that we've been doing and
how important we feel it is that this has become global.
Q. And about the price of the items?
JANE BROWN GRIMES: I'm going to look into that. I don't know if we have
an answer for that here.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: T‑shirts are approximately $40, and you and I will
debate later if we're expensive or not.
BILLIE JEAN KING: A lot of layers involved.
Q. I have two questions. The first one, do you know how many water
bottles did you go through last year at the event?
BILLIE JEAN KING: Do you have a clue?
RITA GARZA: 500,000 last year. That's what we determined as our
baseline. Between 5 and 650,000 last year. That was what we sent to
DANNY ZAUSNER: And that's all beverages.
Q. Was that sold and also supplied to players and media?
DANNY ZAUSNER: Correct.
Q. This was for the NRDC folks. How does tennis stack up against other
big sports events in terms of carbon footprint? Is it relatively light?
Better than football? How does that go?
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ: Thanks for the question. The 14 days of events
here actually as an event does not ‑‑ we're actually measuring. It's
about 2,000 megawatt hours.
Obviously 14 days of an event here is a less carbon footprint in general
than 181 baseball games. Also at baseball games, typically a higher
percentage of the fans show up by automobiles. Fan participation, fan
attendance, is one of the single largest carbon‑emitting factors at an
event like this.
The fact that 60% of the participants coming here come by mass transit
is quite extraordinary. In fact, that exceeds even the best ‑‑ Boston
Red Sox, for example, right in downtown Boston has some 50% of its fans
coming by mass transit. So having 60% of the people coming here by mass
transit is quite extraordinary.
And just remember, as Danny pointed out, this year, all the facilities
are powered by wind, renewable energy, which is having a zero carbon
impact as it concerns the facilities' impact here.
So the powering of the lights and the operations for these two weeks is
being allocated by the New York Power Pool from wind supplies.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Next question.
Q. All this sounds terrific. Am I wrong when, they were bringing in the
celebrities the other night and every time I see the official vehicles
they are these great big SUVs?
DANNY ZAUSNER: 20% of the fleet is by hybrid.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I've been talking to the Lexus people. They're selling
them so fast, we're lucky to have 20%. They usually use the bigger cars
when there's more people. They always ask how many people when I call
transportation. How many people? Because they'll send a much smaller car
when there are less people. If there are more people then they'll send
the bigger one.
Q. We need smaller people?
BILLIE JEAN KING: Yeah, we do. That's a whole other issue. That's an
DANNY ZAUSNER: Different press conference.
BILLIE JEAN KING: But they've been very ‑‑ they've been keeping ‑‑ I've
noticed this year they've been keeping track of how many people are
coming out like they really want to know. So we're getting the smaller
cars if there's less of us, and the bigger ones when they do need it.
Q. I had another question about the wind power. How is that actually
working, and where are the wind turbines? Where's that actually coming
from to power the facility?
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ: We had a question about where is the wind coming
from, the wind power coming from and how is it getting allocated to this
particular event. The New England and New York Power Pool allocates
energy to specific facilities constantly every day.
The wind farms in Pennsylvania, Upstate New York, which are part of the
New England Power Pool, are allocated to particular locations every day
by the Power Pool. Typically wind has not been allocated to this part of
the city from those facilities.
Because of a specific request made by the USTA to educate the media and
its fans about the value of using wind today and in the future, a
specific request has made to the Power Pool through the USTA's energy
supplier, Constellation Energy, to allocate wind needed to power the
event for the event specifically.
So the wind facilities are in place and working. They don't necessarily
and in the past haven't been allocated to this facility. The USTA has
sought to amplify the visibility of wind power using the leverage it has
by having this international media event to amplify information about
it, and asking the New York Power Pool to supply wind to this and let
people know that they could also be asking their utility to supply their
homes and businesses with wind.
The more people making that kind of request, as the USTA has done, the
more market demand for it there will be, which helps people make
investments into that nonfossil, fuel‑emitting technology.
Q. Another question on the wind power. I know, for example if you want
to do this through your home electric bill, you agree to pay an offset.
You agree to pay higher price of electricity to invest in the wind
energy. Is that what's happening here? Is there an offset being paid?
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ: Actually the supplier of energy to the facility
has made a donation. The answer is yes. Typically wind is more expensive
right now than fossil fuels, and this also relates to the gentleman's
question about the price of the clothing that's environmentally
I think one of the important things to understand about this initiative
here is they are trying to advance the environmental initiatives in
spite of the fact that it is usually often cheaper to do things that
pollute. It costs more often to do things that are environmentally
The fact is that globally over $1 trillion a year goes to support the
use of fossil fuels, deforestation, environmentally harmful subsidies,
saturate our marketplace.
For the USTA to say, We're going to figure out how to get wind here at
no additional cost to our fans and to this event, we're going to try to
figure out how to get recycled paper here in our napkins, in our
yearbooks, in our game day programs, at no additional cost to the
participants here, that's hard.
There's a cliché: It's easy being green. Frankly, it's not often easy
being green, because the existing manufacturing infrastructure, the
existing energy supply infrastructure has been built up over decades or
centuries actually based on polluting subsidies.
So the offset ‑‑ the additional price was offset, donated by
Constellation Energy to the USTA.
Q. What are the areas for improvement? What green initiatives would you
like to see in place over the next five years or ten years?
JANE BROWN GRIMES: I'd certainly like to up the recycling. As more
materials become recyclable, and this is really ‑‑ although we've been
working on this for two years, and certainly in terms of energy saving
we had already put some things in place. In terms of rolling it out here
at the event, this is our first year. It's only the beginning. It will
But certainly the recycling area is the one I'd like to get to 100%
recycling, and we're certainly not there at this point. Danny, I'm sure
you can add.
DANNY ZAUSNER: I think it's also important for us to point out the USTA
didn't wait for greening to become fashionable to really get into this
game. We're in a public park. It was a decayed park in the '70s. The
USTA came in and built this beautiful facility, which is 46‑plus acres.
The mayor of the city has an initiative to plant a million trees, and
we're at the forefront of that. We've been planting trees all over the
place. You're not going to find a greener tennis facility probably in
the world, certainly not in this country, and that's a big part of what
The construction that we do, we use recyclable materials whenever
possible. We've got a great relationship with NYCERTA. ERM has helped us
put a gap analysis together in terms of where we can do better. These
are some of the initiatives we've taken on to narrow that gap as much as
Q. Are you having any influence with the manufacturers of like the
tennis balls or the cans or the water bottles to make them more easily
DANNY ZAUSNER: We were working with Wilson to make sure those balls
could be recycled. Our friends at NRDC helped us find SIMS as a recycler
to actually remove the cans off site and be able to recycle them. So
that was a huge thing for us this year.
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ: We have a meeting with Wilson tomorrow.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Wilson actually is environmentally in the lead of
that. I also went to the SIMS factory actually in Roseville, California,
to see how they're separating the different metals and the different ‑‑
anything E, anything E.
In your computers, they're separating all the pieces, and it's quite
extraordinary just to see what they're trying to do to help
environmentally. I spent about a couple hours there. It was
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ: By the way, you hit the single most important
aspect of this whole initiative, is that the USTA has been studiously
attempting to send market signals to the supply chain, to the vendors of
beverages, to the vendors of paper, to the waste management companies,
that they view environmental impacts as a liability to the brand of the
I mean, I don't need to tell anybody this. There's not many brands in
the world as prestigious as the USTA. To have environmental liabilities
is not on their agenda. So by telling, you know, Lexus, we want to phase
in the introduction of hybrid cars over the next few years, by telling
the people who produce their draw sheets that we want 30% post‑consumer
I mean, switching 2.4 million napkins to 90% recycled content reduces
greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. I don't know of anything
I mean, we've done the Oscars, we've done the Grammys, baseball,
basketball. I don't know of anything comparable at that scale of
achievement. That's enormously valuable to the paper industry supply
chain, because once they hear it from organizations like the USTA they
know the market is really changing in that direction.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Leadership.
Q. In Italy we are not able to schedule anything. Are you able to
schedule, in ten years, in five years, how to recycle a champion like
Billie Jean King? (laughter.)
BILLIE JEAN KING: I think ‑‑ in this country it's Patrick's job, Patrick
Q. Can you amplify a little bit what you're saying about recycling
tennis balls? They get used on the court and then they get sent to the
USTA. Do they actually get taken apart and the materials are recycled,
DANNY ZAUSNER: It's a little confusing. It's the cans themselves that
we're recycling. The balls we're reusing and then we literally donate
them to schools and hospitals to put them on the bottom of walkers. All
the balls have a final resting place.
Q. What's the average life of a ball here?
DANNY ZAUSNER: On this site here we can use a ball throughout the next
12 months before we donate them to the organizations.
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ: He's making it sound easy, like they're recycling
20, 30,000 tennis ball cans. Those are made of three different
materials. The base is polyethylene terephthalate, there's an aluminum
ring, and a high density polyethylene lid.
Three different types of materials is going to recycling facilities is
actually a complicated endeavor to separate. The fact that the USTA
managed to arrange for that, logically collect them here from the courts
to a place where no one will see them on the grounds, to a processing
facility, to a manufacturing plant, I mean, it really is frankly quite
an extraordinary achievement.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Aren't they also using soy ink on the balls now?
JANE BROWN GRIMES: He's talking about the cans.
BILLIE JEAN KING: I know. I'm talking about the tennis ball now. Cans,
tennis ball, whatever. I think the soy ink is an improvement. I mean,
just slowly but surely they're just doing more and more positive things
Also, with equipment, you can just keep reselling it and give to
schools. Just think how you can reuse things that are like in your
garage or closet. Get them out and try to figure out how can you keep
using them in a positive way and not go buy something new all the time.
DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ: To Billy's point about the ink and what she
experienced this morning at the grocery store, I think it's critical for
all of us to remind ourselves that the situation we face, 70 million
tons of global warming pollution in the atmosphere ever day year, and
more tomorrow, one degree Celsius away from the world being the warmest
it's been in a million years.
It's not the result of one bad actor. It's not the U.S., it's not China,
it's not India. The situation we face, the ecological pressures we face,
are a result of millions of decisions by consumers and corporations
being made day in and day out. So whether it's soy ink on a tennis ball,
that matters. Whether it's changing napkins, that matters. Whether it's
recycling a tennis ball can, that matters.
So the fact that the USTA has looked ‑‑ I mean, to know about the ink on
a tennis ball can or to know what's happening on a tennis ball or what's
happening ‑‑ it's just underscores the attention to detail that the USTA
has brought to this endeavor.
It really reminds us that really everything has to be reviewed.
Q. I'd like to know, since we are in a technological era and we are all
using computers now more than papers ‑ but we still waste a lot of paper
everywhere, especially we as a journalist ‑ I'd like to know if there is
any thought about how to not waste all the papers that's every day we
throw? I mean, should we throw it in some separate places? Because every
day there are tons of paper that once we have read the transcripts,
whatever, we don't need them, we throw it. Maybe we throw it together
with a can or with something else, I don't know.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: I'll make sure I point out where they are in the media
center. Obviously our area is one of the places with a lot of paper. As
you know, we've moved a lot of things to e‑mail rather than paper. We're
also trying to use certified, you know, forest‑friendly paper to produce
Dr. Hershkowitz's point, we try to, every step of the way, look at it
and see how we can have an impact.
I have to now conclude the press conference because we have to start
turning it over for tennis players.
BILLIE JEAN KING: What? What? (laughter.)
CHRIS WIDMAIER: I'd like to take a moment and ask the three principals
to come out. We'll take a quick photo.
BILLIE JEAN KING: By the way I wrote a book, and it's on 30%
post‑consumer waste material.
JANE BROWN GRIMES: And Billie Jean is signing everything with green.
BILLIE JEAN KING: Marilyn Monroe used to sign in red, but I'm signing in
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