Just when you thought the Presidio Graduate School social business community couldn’t get any loftier, the faculty welcomes senior scientist of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Dr. Allen Herschkowitz, as the new Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Sustainable Sports Management. He will be directing the new Sports and Sustainability Certificate Program beginning in the fall of 2014.
“I think the program we’re developing at Presidio will encompass a very diverse range of issues, including energy, water, waste management, fan engagement, healthy food and transportation – so it’s an ambitious and exciting initiative and it’s the only one of its kind in the world,” says Allen.
The recognized leader in advancing environmental responsibility highlights how powerful the $400 billion professional sports industry is. “It encompasses plastics, metals, energy, water, food and automobiles. All industries meet at a sports facility, so the potential to influence the supply chain of sports is very exciting,” he says.
Commissioners of baseball, basketball and football recently received letters from a congressional committee asking their positions on climate change. All the commissioners were able to point to substantial practices in their leagues that promote energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
“The fact that all of these leagues have programs in place to disrupt climate change is enormously important, and in speaking to officials at these leagues about the initiative of the Presidio sustainable sports management project, they all expressed excitement about its formation and an interest in helping to support it,” Allen says.
He distinguishes these practices from “green-washing” – where companies portray their advancement of environmental benefits without actually doing so. “That’s why it’s so important for places like Presidio to integrate with business, to help businesses assure that they’re not engaging in “green-washing” and they understand the risks of doing it,” he says. “It can discredit a company’s brand and especially its environmental profile for years if it’s not carefully avoided.”
Allen has spearheaded systemic change in areas stretching from sustainable development and recycling, to forestry, paper industry impacts, mountaintop coal mining, waste incineration and medical waste. He is the co-founder and member of the board of the Green Sports Alliance. He also co-founded the Broadway Green Alliance, where he serves on the steering Committee. Allen is the environmental advisor to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oscars telecast, and the Recording Academy’s GRAMMY Awards. He was named “The Godfather of Greening” by Yoga + Joyful Living Magazine in 2009 for his leadership in making environmental responsibility widely understandable and achievable.
Allen’s evidently impressive list of accomplishments in the field stem from his simple dedication to an authentically “green” way of life for individuals and institutions. His passion runs strong 35 years into his career – in a field that marries all of his profound interests in healing, providing service to his community, science, logic, and rationality.
“I think that the growing recognition, as well as the embrace of environmental stewardship from commissioners of professional sports, sends a message to the marketplace that overrides politicians who are trying to deny ecological realities,” he says.
“The merger of business and sustainability is extraordinarily exciting. We’re obviously facing urgent ecological issues and most business schools pay marginal attention to sustainability issues, but Presidio makes sustainability the focus of its work and making the business program focus on sustainability and merging with professional sports operations has enormous potential to shift business practices around the world.”