Life Cycle Assessment of the UBC Thunderbirds

The Centre for Sport and Sustainability collaborates with UBC Athletics & Recreation (UBC A&R) to measure the environmental impacts of their activities. UBC A&R aims to develop a comprehensive environmental strategy in line with UBC’s mission to work towards sustainability. As an organization with 100 full-time employees, 20+ sports venues, 27 varsity teams, and that hosts 200 events with 60,000 spectators annually, UBC A&R is an important part of campus activities. UBC A&R seeks to better understand their major impacts, mitigate their footprint, and develop behaviour change strategies to influence stakeholders such as spectators, athletes and sponsors.

Life Cycle Assessment of UBC Thunderbirds teams, events, and venues

[Download the Final Report]

Executive Summary: This study was commissioned by UBC Athletics & Recreation as an extension of the pilot study “Measuring the Carbon Footprint of a UBC Thunderbirds Men’s Basketball Game“. The goal was to carry out a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and provide UBC A&R with a tool to assess and manage the environmental impacts of their varsity “Thunderbird” teams, venues, and events. A principal aim of this study was to apply rigorous evaluation methods in a resource-efficient manner to identify major impacts from UBC A&Rs operations, stakeholders, and supply chain. The study uses the IMPACT 2002+ LCA method to determine cradle–to–grave impacts across the environmental damage categories of climate change (Carbon Footprint), human health, water withdrawal, ecosystem quality, and resource depletion. The unit of analysis was the provision of an entertainment / athletic experience to participants of the UBC A&R Thunderbird sports events for the 2011/2012 season. The results showed a total annual footprint of 8,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. The largest contributors were venues (72%) and travel (24%) — with food, office, waste, communication, and accommodation combining for the remaining 4%. The results, data, and methodology presented in this report have been incorporated into the Quantis SUITE 2.0 LCA software tool. General recommendations for impact mitigation opportunities and ongoing data collection strategies are also included. UBC A&R will use this to track and report on environmental performance. This approach represents a new level of sophistication for sustainability management and assessment of the events industry.

For more information

Matt Dolf (project lead)
Manager, CSS
PhD Student, UBC School of Kinesiology
(778) 322-9556

Kavie Toor
Associate Director, Facilities and Business Development
UBC Athletics & Recreation
(604) 822-1688