2016 Supreme Award Winner
Chosen from the winners of each category, the Supreme Award recognises a winner that has demonstrated genuine commitment and achieved exceptional results. Project Litefoot – a charitable trust led by top sportspeople – was named the EECA Supreme Award winner of 2016.
Using energy efficiency to pay for sport is an original Kiwi idea that is going global. For every dollar invested in Project Litefoot Trust, they are saving $2.53 for rugby, cricket, tennis and a whole host of other community-level sports. So far it has achieved $3.9 million worth of energy savings which can be put towards kit, coaching and facilities.
The sports personalities compete with each other to achieve the lowest environmental impact. An online league table shows their progress as environmental champions and this is used to promote energy, water and waste efficiency to community sports clubs through Project Litefoot Trust’s lead initiative: LiteClub.
The mobile LiteClub team visits local clubs to talk about their environmental impact. During the visits they install LED light bulbs, pipe lagging and insulation on hot water cylinders, along with water-saving devices and recycling stations. The money saved on energy can then be invested in sport. Over 710 community sports clubs have signed up to LiteClub’s free service and 20 new clubs are visited each month. After each visit, the LiteClub team writes an Efficiency Action Plan that suggests further improvements.
Clubs are awarded medals for achieving certain efficiency standards and local competitive rivalry can see rugby competing with golf to be the most environmentally-friendly sports group in the neighbourhood. LiteClub taps into sport’s unique capacity to provoke the human spirit to achieve greatness and set in motion a competitive resilience in participants to do better at every attempt – and stick at it. The commitment has so far avoided nearly 4,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, diverted 2,453 tonnes of waste from landfill and conserved 22.4 million litres of water.
Inspired by the whenua
Project Lightfoot Trust is the brainchild of marketing expert, Hamish Reid, who took inspiration from friend and colleague Michael Campbell. After winning the US Open in 2005, Michael talked to Hamish about the things that were important to him that could benefit from his association. Spiritual connection and custodianship of the whenua (land) in the context of climate change and other environmental impacts became the focus of the conversation.
Hamish was inspired to find a way to show how sport and the environment are deeply interlinked and to give the sports community a way to reduce their environmental impact. Between Hamish and Michael they were able to gather a team of sporting celebrities who were happy to play their part and help inspire others to follow suit. LiteClub provides the practical help and incentive that local clubs need and has proved so popular that there is a backlog of clubs seeking the service. There are around 3,000 community sports clubs in New Zealand and Hamish estimates that at their current rate it will take nine years to sign them all up to LiteClub.
Project Lightfoot Trust estimates that the New Zealand community sports sector could be saving up to $25 million a year in energy, water and waste efficiency. Considering Sport NZ’s annual contribution to community sport is $43 million, it’s clear that energy efficiency savings have the potential to pay for a lot of local sport.
The high-profile support for Project Lightfoot Trust and LiteClub’s success in freeing up money for sport has aroused international interest. The Kiwi efficiency model has been applied to a feasibility study in three Australian states, supported by the Australian Football League and Cricket Australia. In the UK, a prominent sportsperson is assisting with the roll-out of a 20-club pilot programme in association with the major national governing sports bodies.
Project Litefoot Trust has been sharing its experience and the results of running LiteClub around the world and last year spoke at the Green Sports Alliance Summit in Chicago. The event was attended by 700 people mostly from the National Basketball Association, National Football League and National Hockey League in America. Hamish’s ambition is to build LiteClub abroad and invest foreign exchange earned into increasing the depth and breadth of its programme in New Zealand.