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NCAA | June 28, 2017

2017 Final Four earns social and environmental certification

  The 2017 Final Four in Phoenix was recognized for sustainability efforts and achievements.

PHOENIX — The 2017 NCAA Final Four Basketball Championship held in Phoenix this April has earned the top-level Evergreen Certification for its sustainability efforts and achievements, the Council for Responsible Sport and Phoenix Local Organizing Committee announced. The Council for Responsible Sport is an Oregon-based not-for-profit organization that provides independent verification of the socially and environmentally responsible work event organizers are doing.

“The 2017 Phoenix Final Four is proud to have attained this level of certification. From the start of our local planning we made a commitment to Sustainability,” said Dawn Rogers, 2017 Final Four LOC Executive Director and CEO. “We are thankful for the partners we had across Arizona including donors, cities, organizations and the thousands of volunteers that worked hard to deliver an exceptional experience to Final Four fans. This really is a shared achievement by everyone involved.”

Dan Gavitt, Senior Vice President of Basketball at NCAA remarked, “The NCAA is both proud and deeply appreciative of the efforts of the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee and all of our partners for achieving the highest level of certification for sustainability.  The 2017 Final Four was highly successful in every way, and to be recognized as a socially and environmentally responsible event means we accomplished another important goal.  It is fitting that the entire community of the naturally beautiful Valley of the Sun helped reach this remarkable achievement for the 2017 Final Four.”

“Congratulations to the local organizing committee, NCAA, sustainability committee and all the contributing partners on this unprecedented level of achievement with regards to social and environmental responsibility for the Final Four,” said Ray Anderson, Vice President for University Athletics at Arizona State University. “It makes me proud to be part of the community that so fully embraces the values represented in this certification effort.“

“We set out to ‘Leave a Legacy’ through the power of sports. Evergreen level certification is not only attainable, but opens new partnership opportunities, decreases costs and liabilities and increases fan engagement and experience,” said Colin Tetreault, chair of the 2017 Final Four sustainability committee. “Credit for reaching this goal is due to the willing efforts of many partners — from the NCAA and local organizing committee, to the myriad regional partners and tireless team members of the sustainability committee.” 

The Evergreen level certification was earned by achieving more than 90 percent of the 61 total best practice standards offered in the Council’s framework across five categories including: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy.

Environmental highlights that earned credit toward the certification included:

  • 91 percent of all unavoidable waste was diverted from the landfill via a robust recycling, reuse and compost strategy led by the City of Phoenix Department of Public Works, which has a goal for Phoenix to divert 40 percent of waste from landfill by 2020. Other strategies coordinated by the sustainability committee included requiring vendors to use compostable service wares, donating leftover unserved concessions foods, and donation of hard-to-manage items like vinyl signage to groups like Keep Phoenix Beautiful and Girl Scouts Cactus Pine Council.
  • 5,300 Fan Fest, Tip Off Tailgate, and Music Fest visitors took a water saving pledge (and a selfie to #DropBuckets4AZ). The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) pledged to restore 1,000 gallons of water to Arizona Watersheds for each picture taken. The fan pledges resulted in restoring 5.3 million gallons of freshwater into an Arizona ecosystem as part of the largest sport event activation to-date from BEF’s ongoing ‘Change the Course’ campaign.
  • All of the electricity used at the Phoenix Convention Center (Fan Fest) and stadium during the event weekend was sourced from greenhouse gas emissions free sources through the purchase of verified Renewable Energy Certificates.  Arizona is the state with the second most installed solar energy capacity in the U.S. — 2,303 Megawatts — enough to power 327,000 homes.
  • An e-waste collection alongside volunteer training sessions resulted in the proper recycling of 925 pounds of electronic waste with support from LG.
  • The sustainability committee orchestrated a community-based watershed service project where volunteers worked for a half-day in the Tonto National Forest Arnett Creek Wilderness, in partnership with Salt River Project and the Northern Arizona Forest Fund to remove water-stressing invasive species from the local ecosystem.


Social and community highlights that earned credit toward the certification included:

  • 34,000 third graders combined to read 6.2 million minutes over a three-month period through participation in "Read to the Final Four," a statewide literacy competition to inspire reading and academic excellence.
  • 3,075 youth participated in the ‘Final Four Dribble’ in downtown Phoenix and got to take home a basketball.
  • Local First Arizona created an “eat like a local” guide for residents and visitors to support local businesses and services in order to boost the local economy before, during, and after the Final Four weekend.
  • A partnership of the NCAA, Phoenix Local Organizing Committee and Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority made possible the restoration of an outdoor basketball court at Harmon Park in Phoenix, which annually serves more than 18,000 neighborhood youth. The refurbishment included a completely reconstructed court and new goal stanchions, backboards and baskets.

About the NCAA
The NCAA is a diverse association of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities that prioritize academics, well-being and fairness to create greater opportunities for nearly half a million student-athletes each year. The NCAA provides a pathway to higher education and beyond for student-athletes pursuing academic goals and competing in NCAA sports. More than 54,000 student-athletes experience the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics by competing in NCAA championships each year. Visit and for more details about the Association and the corporate partnerships that support the NCAA and its student-athletes. The NCAA is proud to have AT&T, Capital One and Coca-Cola as official corporate champions and the following elite companies as official corporate partners: Allstate, Amazon Echo, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Enterprise, Infiniti, Intel, LG, Lowe’s, Marriott International, Nabisco, Northwestern Mutual, Pizza Hut, Reese’s, Unilever and Wendy’s.

About the Council for Responsible Sport
The Council’s vision is a world where responsibly produced sports events are the norm and its mission is to provide objective, independent verification of the socially and environmentally responsible work event organizers are doing to make a difference in their communities. The current version of the Council’s Certification standards (v.4.2) was developed by an outside working group of both sustainability and sport industry experts, reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders throughout 2013 and implemented in January 2014. For more information, visit

About the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee
The Phoenix Local Organizing Committee (PLOC) is an Arizona Nonprofit Corporation formed to work in conjunction with the NCAA as it plans for the Final Four in 2017. Composed of local community, sports and tourism leaders, the PLOC collaborated with the NCAA to help host the Final Four.

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