Texas A&M Athletics Unveils First-Of-Its-Kind Sustainability Master Plan
In conjunction with the University’s Campus Sustainability Month, a time in Aggieland for sustainability awareness and education, Texas A&M Athletics is excited to become active promoters of the cause.
The Texas A&M Athletics Department stepped to the forefront of national sustainability efforts with a first-of-its-kind master plan. The Aggies announced the release of the initial Athletics Sustainability Master Plan (ASMP), becoming the first athletics department in the country to embark on such an effort.
The purpose of the ASMP is to create a living strategic document that complements and serves as a guide for how the athletics department will support Texas A&M University in achieving the goals and actions set forth in its 2018 Campus Sustainability Master Plan for the next decade and beyond.
“Being the front porch and most visible entity on campus gives Athletics not only the opportunity, but also the responsibility to use our platform to support and elevate sustainability efforts within our department and across campus,” Texas A&M Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “12th Man Sustainability is ‘Good Bull for the Game’ as we lead in environmental and social opportunities for Aggies, Aggieland and beyond. It is crucial for us to operate with excellence in all that we do, and I am excited for the work we have done and will continue to do thanks to our Athletics Sustainability Master Plan.”
The pioneering plan focuses on goals for the short term (fiscal years 2023-27), medium term (fiscal years 2028-32) and long term (fiscal year 2033 and beyond). The efforts to advance the targets in the plan will be constantly evolving to keep current with the advances in science and technology.
“Texas A&M Athletics has a dedicated Aggie fan base second to none,” said Dr. Susan Ballabina, Texas A&M chief External affairs officer and senior vice president for academic and strategic collaborations. “With the creation of this Athletics Sustainability Master Plan, they have established a plan that supports the Campus Sustainability Master Plan and supplements their top-tier leadership on the field with a strategy that positions them to lead on the grand challenges of our time.”
The ASMP is organized based on four focus areas – physical environment, waste management, social sustainability and institutional efforts. These focus areas were established from the three pillars of sustainability – environment, social and economic. Sustainability at Texas A&M focuses on the connections between people, the economy and the environment; and how those connections work together to achieve long-term prosperity and continued quality of life.
“The sustainability master plan positions Texas A&M Athletics as a true off-field champion, showcasing our commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainable practices,” Texas A&M Director of the Office of Sustainability Kelly Wellman said. “It reflects our institution’s vision and exemplifies the bold leadership necessary to navigate the challenges of our ever-changing world. By integrating sustainable initiatives into our operations, we aim to inspire others and set an example for how athletics can contribute to a more environmentally conscious future.”
Each focus area includes a number of themes that advance the progression of the plan. Some themes were adopted from the 2018 Campus Sustainability Master Plan while others were crafted specifically for the ASMP. Within each theme there are evergreen goals which are long-term milestones. They are visionary and designed to be aligned with the Texas A&M Athletics sustainability initiatives in perpetuity.
The 12 themes in the Athletics Sustainability Master Plan include: zero waste; waste minimization; built environment and site design; energy use and greenhouse gas emissions; mobility and transportation; community engagement; student success; health and wellness; voice and influence; education, outreach and engagement; administrative support; and instruction and innovation.
The key themes are broken down to evergreen goals (long-term), targets (short- and medium-term goals), metrics and measures. The plan includes proposed actions to pursue on the path toward achieving the targets, as well as identifying key players who will most influence the successful achievement of each target.
“Our mission within Texas A&M Athletics is to create opportunities through championship athletics, and the Athletics Sustainability Master Plan does just that,” Texas A&M Associate Athletics Director for Engagement Rebekah Parkhill said. “It provides us direction and accountability for us to be good stewards for our Athletics resources, but it also focuses on the people that make up our department. We have a responsibility to make sure that our staff and student-athletes are empowered to be successful on and off the field.”
A task force of more than 50 staff members from the Texas A&M Athletics Sustainability Plan working group collaborated to research and develop the plan since June 2021 under the guidance of Lauren Lichterman, who is a collegiate sustainability engagement expert and lead author of the plan. Steering the collaborative effort were members of the Texas A&M Office of Sustainability, Texas A&M Utilities and Energy Services, and Texas A&M Kinesiology & Sport Management Department to offer the group invaluable leadership, knowledge and guidance.
“The power of sport, particularly collegiate sport, to do good things for people and planet, and create opportunities for others to follow in that journey is extremely special,” Lichterman said. “Seeing Texas A&M Athletics champion this cause in such a concerted and transparent way is inspirational and should serve as a guide for how other athletics departments across the country can inspire and innovate as well.”
Texas A&M Athletics recognizes the impact its operations have on the environment and the communities it serves and, conversely, the impact the environment and those same communities have on its operations. The department understands its substantial responsibility to leave a lasting legacy beyond the playing field, ensuring the long-term viability of sport for generations to come. Pursuing sustainability initiatives aligns Texas A&M Athletics with local and global efforts to address environmental and social challenges. It enables the department to become a more responsible, efficient and resilient entity while positively influencing fans, athletes and society as a whole. Texas A&M Athletics calls on all Aggies to support these endeavors and other sustainability initiatives within their own communities.
“I would like to thank the leadership of 12th Man Sustainability, 12th Man Green Team, and the over 60 staff members and Athletics partners who worked together to develop this sustainability plan over the last two years,” Bjork said. “I would especially like to acknowledge and thank the leadership and guidance from Kelly Wellman and the entire Texas A&M Office of Sustainability – without their efforts, we would not be where we are today.”