NASCAR has its traditions, but innovation is its heart and soul and the organization has just taken another step to prove it. Earlier this week NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) announced that it was bumping its sustainability profile higher up on the executive ladder by promoting its current managing director to Vice President, Green Innovation.
That would be Dr. Michael Lynch, who has been with NASCAR since CEO Brian France first announced that NASCAR would be front and center in the green sports movement, back in 2008. Lynch is the guy behind NASCAR Green, which the organization modestly asserts is “the largest sustainability program in all of sports and one of the most powerful and impactful green programs in the public and private sectors.”
Pesky Meddling Government!
You can check out all of the NASCAR Green initiatives for yourself (here’s that link again), but we’re most interested in two of Dr. Lynch’s recent projects. They reach millions of NASCAR fans with a positive message about public-private cooperation in environmental stewardship that is the opposite of the “government is the problem” talking point that has saturated conservative discourse for way too long.
First, in May 2012 NASCAR and the US EPA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding for promoting sustainable products and practices to millions of NASCAR fans. In return for technical assistance from EPA, the agreement calls for NASCAR to ramp up its sustainability efforts in ways that catch the attention of its followers.
That runs the gamut from promoting the Design for the Environment (DfE) label and working on the NASCAR supply chain to adopt the E3 initiative (Economy, Energy and Environment), to encouraging NASCAR concessionaires to adopt more sustainable operations.
Second, NASCAR followed up just this past September by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Department of Energy. The new agreement brings DOE’s heavy artillery – its vast network of federal laboratories, research institutions and private sector partners – into the NASCAR fold with the aim of propelling transformative automotive technologies into the mainstream, including electric vehicle charging stations, solid-oxide fuel cells, and advanced biofuels.
The agreement also covers natural gas technologies for NASCAR teams’ long-haul trucks and we’re not fans of (to say the least) shale gas, but if you’re talking landfill gas and biogas then yay.
Aside from these umbrella initiatives (including a new partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council), we’ve been following NASCAR and its affiliated raceways on their trip along the green path.
That includes solar energy, a major tire recycling initiative, and a showcase for the new all-electric Ford Focus EV among many others.
For the record, Formula racing is also about to take a giant leap into greener pastures with the introduction of the new all-electric Formula E series next fall.
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