Gators claim title to nation's first carbon neutral athletic season

September 3, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University Athletic Association at the University of Florida has committed to offset the carbon footprint of the entire 2009-10 athletic program.

UF continues to bridge environmental awareness with college athletics, following the first carbon neutral football game in 2007 and the first carbon neutral home football season in 2008, with the first carbon neutral athletics program in 2009. The UAA has joined the Neutral Gator Initiative to achieve these goals, which will be funded by the UAA and through sponsorships from local businesses.

“We are excited to strengthen our commitment to The Gator Nation by partnering with the Neutral Gator Initiative to make our athletics program carbon neutral,” Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said. “The university is a leader in academics and athletics, and now we are proud to lead the way again by being the first carbon neutral athletics program in the nation.”

Neutral Gator, an initiative of the nonprofit Earth Givers, generates local offset credits through community development projects, focused primarily in low-income sectors of the Gainesville area. All of this year’s credits will be applied to the Gator athletic program’s approximately 2,500 ton carbon footprint. The credits are generated through weatherization efforts in low-income households as well as local and regional natural area restoration projects.

“I believe when we look back at this season, our partnership with the University of Florida Athletic Association will have made a greater impact than we can now imagine,” said Jacob Cravey, co-founder of Neutral Gator.

UF’s collaboration with Neutral Gator is the latest in a series of steps to raise environmental awareness throughout the community. Along with the commitment to offsetting the carbon footprint of game day activities, UF President Bernie Machen was among the first university presidents to sign the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The UF campus is also home to the first and only Platinum LEED-certified athletic facility in the nation and recently added two energy-efficient LED video boards atop the north and south end zones at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“I am proud of the Gators’ commitment to being champions both on and off the field,” said Anna Prizzia, director of UF’s Office of Sustainability. “By working with Neutral Gator for carbon neutrality, they are being an example for our whole community,”

A carbon offset represents the reduction of 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases. Offsets are generated by either reducing or sequestering carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon offsets can be used by businesses and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint. The feature that sets Neutral Gator apart from other carbon offsetting companies is that all of Neutral Gator’s offsets are locally generated and locally applied.