Go Team, Go Green!

Executive Summary:

The Go Team, Go Green project uses a friendly competitive spirit and school pride as motivating factors to engage in campus sustainability. A fundamental aspect of student life at UW –as well as at universities around the country and worldwide– is intercollegiate athletics. Major UW sports events such as men's football and women's basketball are extremely popular among students on campus, and also provide an important means for alumni and other community members to stay connected and involved with the UW flagship campus in Seattle. Here we propose to use this powerful community and campus social phenomenon of intercollegiate athletics as a motivating factor for sustainability.

Specifically, we will work with a broad array of student groups at UW and other Pac-12 campuses to organize intercollegiate sustainability challenges to occur during the school year in the week leading up to particular intercollegiate Pac-12 athletics matches. For example, in the week before the UW-University of Colorado football match, student groups from the Seattle and Boulder campuses will have a friendly competition for the most sustainable student group and overall campus; another such competition would occur in the week leading up to the UW-Oregon women's basketball match. Judges will be made up of students from a participating Pac-12 school not competing against UW that week.

To support these competitions, we will:

  1. Create a dedicated UW website that will house the 2018-19 line-up, digital tools allowing participants to measure and report on their carbon footprints and other environmental behaviors, a microblog bulletin board for recording their efforts and posting images or video, a timeline drawn from project-specific Instagram and Twitter hashtags (e.g., #GoTeamGoGreen), and an interactive scoreboard for game day.
  2. Engage student groups at UW and in the partner schools during Summer and Fall 2018 to plan for the Fall and Winter sustainability match-ups, respectively. We have already begun this process in the Spring 2018 with five Pac-12 schools: ASU, CU, Stanford, OSU and WSU.
  3. Organize four intercollegiate Pac-12 competitions in both F18 and W19 by:
    • posting a line-up of participating groups from the competing campuses on the project website;
    • promoting the event on social media, city-wide publications and our website, encouraging participating groups from both campuses to do the same;
    • working with the non-competing (non-UW Pac-12) school -involved in a different challenge week that year- who will be voting on the "winning" school.
    • announcing the results on game day, possibly during halftime of the sports event.

At the end of the Fall and Winter seasons, the UW students involved in the project will choose a winning (non-UW) competitor, which will receive a sustainable bamboo plaque. All school groups that qualify for award consideration will receive certificates of participation.

We envision these competitions ultimately leading to intercollegiate collaborations, sparking sharing of ideas, increased visibility for all of our respective efforts, and possible cascading impacts on sports enthusiasts as well as the athletic programs and nationally televised events themselves, throughout the Pac-12 and across the nation.

Student Involvement:

Students will be directly involved all stages of the Go Team, Go Green (GTGG) project: website design, contact with colleagues around Pac-12, social media promotion of the challenges, participation in the competitions, design of the participation certificates and award plaques, and judging of the non-UW school groups to determine who will receive those plaques. We detail some of the more complex aspects of this student involvement in the sections that follow.

Website design

The GTGG website will be the virtual home for the intercollegiate competitions. It will house the tools that participating school groups at all of the Pac-12 campuses will use to learn about the challenges, sign up their group for the competition, converse with their competitors, and record their sustainability successes. In order to raise interest and broaden participation, and because the students will want to promote their efforts on their own social media platforms, the GTGG website will also include a "news feed" culled from other social media sites; for example, filtering Instagram and Twitter posts to include those containing #GoTeamGoGreen. Our approach here will build on the successes of –as well as the lessons learned from– the peer-to-peer conversations promoted as part of the ISCFC (see http://footprint.stanford.edu/discuss): the successful climate awareness program for which Dr. Hodin is co-director.

Student involvement in the website design will occur in two phases in during Summer 2018. In Phase 1, participating students work together on overall "mock-up" design concepts for the website. All members of the Project Team will provide feedback, and our professional programmer (David Cohn) will put together a site architecture based on that design.

In Phase 2, once that site architecture is in place, Mr. Cohn will lay out one or more internal pages over which the students will have more programming and creative control. The students could then claim that page as something that they helped program, and would be credited as such. Examples of such student led aspects of the website could include the design of the page that lists the team line-ups and the "scoreboard" for game day, as well as the page element that runs news feeds from Instagram and Twitter with GTGG-related hashtags.

Contact with colleagues around Pac-12

Corina Yballa, Senior in the UW Program on the Environment (planned graduation: Dec 2018), is excited to lead the effort during Summer 2018 of coordinating with UW's "competitors" for the Fall and Winter. Among Ms. Yballa's first responsibilities will be following up on contacts we have already initiated with sustainability groups at CU, ASU and Stanford (see attached letters from all three campuses), and expanding those contacts to include at least five additional Pac-12 schools. Furthermore, Ms. Yballa, in coordination with our partner student groups at UW (see attached PAFs), will begin to make concrete plans for the Fall season competitions, including documenting the guidelines for participating in and judging the competitions, and establishing a social media presence for GTGG. During this period, Ms. Yballa will be closely coordinating with UW athletics (see attached PAF from Karen Baebler) to plan for their promotion of the GTGG challenges, and for the possibility of announcing of winners during halftime.

Sometime during the Fall, Ms. Yballa will help us identify and train another student lead who will take over for the remainder of the project. The student lead in the Fall and Winter will work closely with the partner ("competitor") schools to plan the final details for the challenges, continue the social media presence, and work as a liaison to University digital and print publications to promote the competitions.

Participation in the challenges

The groups taking part in the challenges will be student groups on the two campuses that have ongoing or planned sustainability efforts. Participating groups could be dormitories, clubs, fraternities or any other student grouping. Non-student UW groups are also welcome to join. First, the group will register on the GTGG website (which will add them to our participant page, and provide a link to their website if any). Then, they will use the microblog bulletin board to introduce their sustainability efforts, and announce what they plan to accomplish during the upcoming game week. During the week, they will post updates on the microblog and social media, as they choose.

We will provide tools that will help participants analyze the environmental impact of their plans (see the Explain How the Impacts Will Be Measured section, above), but ultimately what constitutes a 'sustainability effort' is entirely up to the group in question. These could range from traditional approaches –such as working to enhance recycling rates in dormitories– to less traditional endeavors –such as producing an original music video about ocean plastic. The student group is responsible for describing their efforts in a persuasive and engaging manner to the judges and the public at large.

Choosing a winning competitor

On game day, the previous week's posts from the student groups on the competing campuses will be judged by students from a third Pac-12 school not competing that week. So for example, the student judges of the UW-Stanford competition might be from Oregon State. We do not foresee judges being overly reliant on numeric assessments alone. Our judging criteria will encourage artistic expression and storytelling as effective aspects of sustainability that could be rewarded. Furthermore, we want to give creative latitude to the judges in announcing winners. We can, for example, imagine winners in different categories: most creative post, lowest carbon group, most ambitious sustainability effort during the week. We will encourage the judging school to announce the categories in advance, so we can post them during "competition week" on the GTGG website's interactive scoreboard, alongside a line-up of the competing groups.

At the end of the Fall and Winter seasons, the UW students involved in the project will choose a winning (non-UW) competitor, which will receive a student-designed plaque to hang in their dormitory or club office. All school groups that qualify for award consideration will receive certificates of participation that they can distribute to individual students.

Education & Outreach:

Outreach to the campus community and the broader public is connected at its core to the Go Team, Go Green concept. First, the connection with high profile sporting events is a ready-made mechanism for enhancing interest in the challenges. The average attendance at home Husky football matches in 2017 was over 68,000 (ncaa.org), with another estimated 1.4 million television viewers (statista.com). Even a brief mention during the matches of our parallel sustainability competition thus has the potential reaching enormous audiences, composed of individuals who likely span the spectrum from those who consider themselves hard-core environmentalists to those for whom sustainability is not a major daily concern. We are currently in discussions with UW Assistant Athletic Director Karen Baebler (see here attached PAF) about the possibility of announcing the weekly GTGG winner on game day, perhaps during half time of the home football or basketball matches.

Because these sports events are such potent cultural phenomena, the upcoming Pac-12 competitor for any home UW football match is well known to a large swath of the broader UW community. In this way, GTGG is providing a dual 'hook' for heightening interest in campus sustainability: the competitive element, and the specific tie-in to a competitor –the school UW will be playing the following weekend– already on the mind of many UW community members. We thus predict a receptive and captive audience for events that otherwise may not typically garner campus-wide attention.

In the lead up to this proposal, we have already forged connections with numerous student groups: the UW Student Association for Green Environments (SAGE), United Students Against Sweatshop Labor, UW GreenGreeks, UW Sustainable Gamers, the UW Sustainability Action Network, Students for a Sustainable Stanford, the CU Environmental Center and ASU Campus Student Sustainability. Each of these organizations has groups of committed students and their own mechanisms of outreach, which they will be able to use to promote GTGG. One of the central goals of GTGG is to, in turn, create a platform to increase the visibility of the diverse sustainability efforts of these partner organizations, and then to use this platform as an incubator for new ideas and new connections among such groups, within and across the Pac-12 campuses.

Social media and microblogging are the main tools that the competing student groups will use to promote their GTGG efforts, and the GTGG team will likewise use these same modes of outreach to spread the word about the project and the upcoming challenges. We will also be sure to work with UW print and online publications –such as the Daily, UW News, Friday Harbor Labs Tide Bites and the College of the Environment newsletter– to promote the competitions and highlight the achievements of the competitors with feature stories.

Recently we learned of a Pac-12 Sustainability initiative, and their discussions to highlight a Pac-12 Sustainable Game of the Week (see attached letter of support from CU Sustainability liaison Dave Newport). This latter concept was for Pac-12 to choose a single nationally televised game from the Pac-12 each week, and have a short segment during the broadcast highlighting sustainability efforts on the home team's campus. We will continue conversations with Pac-12 Conference leadership to pursue this exciting connection.

And finally, we will take advantage of certain historically-potent sports match-ups, such as the yearly WSU-UW football game known as the Apple Cup. In the week leading up to this prominent match-up, GTGG will host a parallel competition that we will call the Apple Core Cup, focusing particularly on issues of waste, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and food choices. We expect this latter to garner particularly heightened student and community interest and corresponding media attention.

Environmental Impact:
  • Energy Use
  • Food
  • Living Systems and Biodiversity
  • Transportation
  • Waste
  • Water
  • Environmental Justice
Project Longevity:

We are thrilled about our burgeoning connections to Pac-12 and the Pac-12 Sustainability Working Group. Clearly, the individual schools and the collective Pac-12 entity are taking stock of the largely untapped potential for increased sustainability in intercollegiate sports. As such, they are committing to making the Pac-12 conference a leader for the nation in this respect. We expect this sincere commitment to translate into funds, and ideally, funds to maintain and expand the project - on individual campuses and across the Pac-12, and perhaps into other conferences across the nation.

One of our central goals during the project period is thus to demonstrate the potency and logic inherent in connecting sustainability goals to the school pride and competitive spirit embodied by intercollegiate sports. We will thus nurture our connections to Pac-12 during the project period, while building excitement for the ideas in the partner campuses.

Indeed, our parters at Students for a Sustainable Stanford are already motivated to seek Stanford University funds similar to the CSF so that they can host their own Go Team, Go Green competitions. This is precisely the kind of impact that we envisioned our concept having on other Pac-12 schools, and this impact seems to be manifesting even at these very early stages! This gives us encouragement that the GTGG concept would have longevity well beyond our project's funding period if awarded.

The power of GTGG derives from the passion and energy of the myriad existing, student- and youth-led sustainability efforts at UW, through the Pac-12, across the nation, and around the world. We are confident that the increased attention drawn to their efforts, and the connections forged among these groups that GTGG provides will create a positive sustainability feedback, lasting well beyond the end of the CSF funding period.

Environmental Problem:

(Note: we checked all of the above "areas of environmental impact" to indicate that we are not placing any limits on competing groups in terms of what aspects of sustainability they want to promote)


The central environmental problem addressed by the Go Team, Go Green project is: how do we encourage sustainable behaviors in those who don't often practice them? According to a 2016 Pew study, 75% of the US population reports being concerned about the environment, but only 20% say that they take consistent environmental actions. While we do not have corresponding statistics for the UW, we can assume that this basic trend is true on campus as well. How can we close this gap between environmental concern and environmental action?

Social science research offers some clues. One set of explanations for lack of environmental action is that environmental problems can seem distant and insurmountable. If instead, environmental challenges are seen as near and solvable, individuals are more likely to act (Stoknes, Energy Research & Social Science, 2014). Furthermore, social norms of behavior ("Keeping up with the Joneses" in common parlance) have been shown to be especially powerful motivators for environmental actions (Griskevicius et al., International Journal for Sustainability Communication, 2008). To put it simply: competition with peers spurs sustainability.

The Go Team, Go Green project thus uses friendly competition and community building as tools for engaging the broader UW community in sustainable behaviors. By linking intercollegiate competitions in sustainability with major intercollegiate Pac-12 sports matches, we furthermore will explicitly couple environmental sustainability to school spirit.

A second environmental problem that our project addresses relates to challenges of increasing visibility for the laudable and diverse efforts of sustainability groups on the UW campus and elsewhere. By linking sustainability to the enormous cultural phenomenon of intercollegiate sports –and doing so in a way that 'tells a story'– we offer the potential to shine bright, stadium lights on the unsung successes of sustainability groups at UW and on our counterpart campuses as well.

And finally, we address the environmental problem of what is often-times a lack of coordination between (or even awareness of) groups having common cause. We describe our project as a competition; but at its heart, it is truly a collaborative meeting place for Pac-12 sustainability enthusiasts who can better leverage their efforts in concert.

One example is Students for a Sustainable Stanford (see their attached letter of support), who are trying to persuade Coca-Cola to produce small medium and large compostable cups for their sports event concessions. They believe –and they are likely correct– that Coca-Cola would be more apt to respond to this request if it was a pan-Pac-12 effort rather than just one coming from Stanford alone.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Integrated into the project's intercollegiate competition framework are both quantitative and qualitative assessments of environmental impacts. Go Team, Go Green (GTGG) project director, Dr. Jason Hodin, is co-director of the International Student Carbon Footprint Challenge (ISCFC), a program that will relocate to the UW server as part of GTGG. The central tool of the ISCFC is a highly detailed location-calibrated student footprint calculator. With CSF funding for GTGG we will produce a slightly modified version of this calculator that targets on-campus college life a bit more directly: for example, by giving options for dormitory living. At that point, the tool will be well suited for students and groups of students on the opposing campuses to document their carbon impacts, as well as estimating carbon reductions from their efforts.

A second tool that we will use in this context is the UW commuter calculator, which breaks down commuting option by calories money and carbon saved or expended (see PAF from Marilyn Ostergren). Finally, we will link to the UW sustainability dashboard (http://green.uw.edu/dashboard) as well as any corresponding pages available on the other Pac-12 web sites, so that the competing groups on the two campuses can assess their efforts as they relate to the campus at large. Specifically, tools like the sustainability dashboard (in combination with aforementioned calculators) can allow groups to estimate how their sustainability ideas –if adopted as campus policy– could impact university-wide carbon emissions, water usage or landfill disposal rates, for example.

In addition to these numerical self-assessments by the competing student groups, we encourage qualitative assessments as well. Video documentation, artistic representations and storytelling are all effective modes of communication about sustainability. As such, the image- and video-enabled bulletin board that we will develop for the GTGG site during Summer 2018 -as well as the GTGG news feed culled from Instagram and Twitter- will encourage the posting of a wide range of documentation of the sustainability efforts of the competing student groups: from the results of their carbon audits, to short films of their sustainable action projects at work.

In sum, a broad range of environmental impacts –from carbon emission accounting to raising community awareness to site specific actions like watershed cleanups– will all be relevant actions for the competitions. On game day, students from a Pac-12 school competing in a different week will analyze the various student groups' posts that document their efforts to choose both a winning student group and, on balance, the winning school. And finally, at the end of the quarter, UW participants will choose a winning competitor to receive a sustainable bamboo plaque, designed by UW students; to qualify for this award, that school will have had to participate both as competitors and judges. All participating student groups from all campuses will receive certificates of participation, printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $52,205
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


Salary/benefits breakdown for project director Hodin, 4 students, a professional programmer and misc material costs.
ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Hodin salary7281 per month at 100% FTE0.25 FTE, 8 months (Jul-Feb)14562
Hodin benefits32.5% on Hodin salary4733
Undergrad student lead$15 per hour10 hrs/week, 8 months5200
Undergrad computer programing$15 per hour10 hrs per week, 3 months, 3 students5850
Undergrad benefits20.7% on total student wages2287
Professional computer programming (David Cohn)$90 per hour215 hours19260
2 plaques, bamboo$78 each156
paper costs (promotional materials, certificates) eco-friendly paper$2020
teleconference line UW (Zoom pro 100)$48 per year1 year48

Non-CSF Sources:

Salary/benefits breakdown for Dr. Kristi Straus
ItemCost per itemQuantityTotal Cost
Straus salary6668 per month at 100% FTE2 summer weeks, 1 week each Fall and Winter (1 month total)6668
Straus benefits24.9% on Straus Salary1660
Project Completion Total: $60,533


Website development and project planning in Summer 2018; project execution in F 2018 and W 2019
TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Website design and development3 months 9/15/2018
Coordination with four fall competitors2.5 months 9/1/2018
Coordination with four winter competitors4.5 months11/1/2018
Planning with student groups at UWthroughout3/30/2019
Fall competitions3 months (Fall quarter)12/15/18
Winter competitions3 months (Winter quarter)3/30/2019