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Olympic champion calls for sports sustainability

Four-time Olympic gold-winning sailer, Sir Ben Ainslie, is urging UK sporting organisations to focus on sustainability ahead of the opening of the new Ben Ainslie Racing headquarters in Portsmouth.

Four-time Olympic gold-winning sailer, Sir Ben Ainslie, is urging UK sporting organisations to focus on sustainability ahead of the opening of the new Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) headquarters in Portsmouth.

The £15 million facility (pictured), which is now entering its final phase of construction, will house the BAR team as well as a visitor centre which will showcase the team’s sustainable practices.

Green highlights of the 74,000 square foot project include meeting the BREEAM Excellent standard for sustainable building design, recycling 97 per cent of demolition materials from the previous site into the building’s foundations, an insulation system that achieves twice the thermal performance of a standard building, rainwater harvesting, energy efficient lighting and a rooftop solar array of over 400 panels.

The BAR team has also achieved the ISO 20121 certification for sustainable event management and has documented its progress in its recent annual sustainability report – Raising the BAR.

‘Power to drive change’

Ainslie has highlighted the project as an example of how sports teams and organisations should be using their position in society to emphasise the importance of sustainability.

“As societal role models, sports teams are in a privileged position”, said Ainslie. “They have the power to drive positive change through setting an example and drawing attention to the issues that matter, such as sustainability. 

“As a team we are striving to become a truly sustainable business; however, our ambitions extend far beyond this. We want to lead the way by educating and inspiring younger generations to drive sustainability forward.”

Creating positive impact

Roy Bedlow, co-founder and chief executive of renewable energy investment company, Low Carbon – a partner in the construction project – said: “Sports teams such as BAR can play a powerful role in educating consumers about the need for greater sustainability and driving positive change.”

“Continuing to educate consumers is the key to unlocking greater adoption of renewable energy across businesses and households.”

Dr Susie Tomson, sustainability manager at BAR, added: “We have a room full of really clever designers building that race boat, [so] could we take some of that cutting-edge technology – whether that's the material or the design – into mainstream industry? Then we will have created an enormous positive impact.

“It is about sailing and winning, but also how we can use that profile and that position we've got to raise the bar and drive wider development.”