For the first time, the US Open at Pebble Beach partners with a local business targeting zero waste.
Rico Tesio is COO of Blue Strike Environmental, which interfaces with fans at trash stations, but does most of its work behind the scenes of big events. Photo by Nic Coury
It’s June 10, and practice rounds for the U.S. Open have begun. Fans are wearing shorts and sandals on this hot day, but Rico Tesio is wearing pants and heavy work boots – appropriate for the staging area that resembles a construction zone. Beyond some metal barricades, there are two-by-fours stacked high, rows of parked tractors and golf carts, a heap of pallets and a crew unloading flowers from a Swenson & Silacci van.
From the decor to the construction materials, fenced yards like this will support the four-day event – then it will all go away. One side effect: an immense amount of waste.
Tesio, COO of Blue Strike Environmental, points at rolls of gray carpet, remnants of 200,000-plus square feet that are spread out on temporary walkways and floors in Pebble Beach for the week. “We are helping them to divert all of that from the landfill,” he says.
Blue Strike will have a dozen staff members on site throughout the tournament attending to trash cans, helping fans toss recyclables and compostables accordingly, leaving trash bins for just actual trash. (The carpet will go to the California Carpet Stewardship Program, managed by CalRecycle.)
The Monterey Peninsula is accustomed to pop-up events that entail construction of miniature cities, only to be dismantled after a few days, or races that involve lots of throwaway products. But the U.S. Open is on a different scale, with more structures and more people (more than 250,000 are expected).
“That’s the impact they’re minimizing,” Tesio says.
The U.S. Open in 2018 in Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, New York, generated almost 1,100 tons of waste; of that, 60 percent, or about 660 tons – more than the weight of six blue whales – was diverted. (The industry standard for “zero waste” is 90-percent diversion or higher.)
Blue Strike is a business that splintered from nonprofit The Offset Project, which for a decade managed zero-waste targets at local events. Blue Strike formed in order to scale up, and now handles trash diversion at events like Cali Roots and the AT&T Pro-Am – as well as beyond Monterey County.
“It was so successful, we decided to expand nationally,” says Blue Strike CEO Kristin Cushman, who also founded The Offset Project, then launched Blue Strike in 2017. (A disclosure: Cushman is the spouse of Weekly Publisher Erik Cushman.)
Growth has happened fast: “We’ve tripled our income in the last 12 months as we’ve expanded,” Cushman says.
Some events are limited by local infrastructure; for instance, Blue Strike looked into a PGA tour event in New Orleans, but would have to truck recyclables. (Monterey Regional Waste Management District can process compostable goods.)
Alex Baxter, sustainability program manager at Blue Strike, sees sporting events as a unique chance to engage fans. “This is not typically part of golf culture,” he says. “Maybe it’s an imprint, and they think about it next time they’re at a Starbucks or they go to dispose.”
Tesio says he’ll try to fit in a few minutes of simply being a golf fan this weekend. “This is the game’s greatest stage,” he says. “And it allows us to raise awareness on that same stage.”
DEL MONTE FOREST, Calif. — Everything about the U.S. Open is massive, including the amount of trash that will be generated during the week-long event.The 250,000 fans estimated to pass through the gates of the Open are expected to buy food, bottled water and packaged souvenirs. Spectator trash, in combination with the temporary infrastructure that will be torn down when the golfers leave, will amount to some serious tonnage headed out to local waste management.
Monterey Regional Waste Management District does not have an estimate on the tonnage of waste it will receive but it does have a plan in place to divert 70 percent of it towards recycling and reuse.
"We started seeing food waste loads from the event, they started showing up yesterday from disposal loads also coming in, and then I think we've also seen some of the recyclable materials showing up here," said Jeff Lindenthal with MRWMD.
Lindenthal said the food waste is being composted and much of the service ware is also compostable. Plastics and other recyclables are being sorted on site at Pebble Beach before the reach waste management thanks to massive manpower on the part of Pebble Beach Company and its contractor Blue Strike Environmental.
"I think you are seeing this more and more in professional sports, this move to be more sustainable," said Rico Tesio with Blue Strike.
Sporting events generate huge amounts of waste in terms of both trash and recyclables. According to a Cardiff University study, average sporting event attendees generate a footprint seven times greater than someone going about normal, everyday life.
Tesio said in recent years consumers and corporate sponsors have been pushing for green solutions. Blue Strike has been integral in coordinating the disposal of the infrastructure material when the Open is over next week.
A small village has been built out on the greens at Pebble Beach with a massive players locker room, media center, merchandise tent and concessions stands. About 250,000 square feet of carpet alone was used in the construction.
Following the Open, the carpet, wood and plastic fencing will be salvaged and hopefully reused. The materials will be taken to Last Chance Mercantile out at MRWMD and what doesn't sell will be recycled through the construction material recycling program.
To make this happen United States Golf Association, Blue Strike and Pebble Beach Company started working with MRWMD more than a year in advance. And fortunately, the Marina facility is one of the few in the country that has made the effort to find markets for recyclables.
Spectators out on the course can do their part too by making sure their waste is disposed of in the proper bins. Fans can also bring their own water bottle however, the USGA's rules on bringing your own bottle are not very green. Only empty clear plastic bottles are allowed through the gates.
The USGA also prohibits other green alternatives including containers and outside food with exceptions made only for medical needs and infants.
Please join us for the third in our series of four webinars on Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) and Integrated Distributed Energy Resources (IDERs). This webinar will focus on potential opportunities for CCAs to selectively work together to optimize efforts and resources, through continued knowledge sharing and ultimately collaboration as they define their role in the deployment of IDERs. As the Community Choice movement continues to grow and rapidly evolve in California, changes in market conditions and the regulatory landscape such as price volatility, the PCIA decision, changes in Resource Adequacy procurement, etc., are creating new challenges and barriers to entry for new and existing CCAs. Our focus will be on how collaboration between CCAs can help the agencies reduce costs, stabilize and fortify competitive retail rates, and reduce risk exposure as they navigate through the challenges and barriers ahead. As a primary example, we will explore how CCAs can benefit from a collaborative approach to developing an integrated CCA data platform.
Our presenters for this webinar include Taj Ait-Laoussine, Vice-President, Technology & Analytics for East Bay Community Energy, and Chris Sentieri, Senior Manager of the Climate Division, Blue Strike Environmental.
Mr. Sentieri will lead off by framing the rapidly changing situation, providing some context about the need for CCAs to get more sophisticated, a vision for how a data platform fits in, and what it can eventually enable, including IDER deployment. Mr. Ait-Laoussine will follow with a non-technical presentation about how to visualize the data platform, how it’s already paying dividends and could evolve, and then explore concepts of potential collaboration.
Support for the Clean Power Exchange program provided by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.
Thank you sponsors! – CPX Team
By Drew Andre
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is one of the biggest events on the Central Coast, and with the thousands of people eating and drinking it creates mountains of trash.
“Our job out here first and foremost is to take care of the golf course, and all the waste that comes off the golf course,” COO Blue Strike Environmental Rico Tesio said.
For the past five years the Pro-Am has been a zero waste event. The event has been Gold Level certified by the council for responsible sport in each of those five years.
“Millions and millions of dollars in hotel rooms and restaurant tabs, and all that goes on this week but there’s a tremendous environmental footprint that goes along with that that often times doesn’t get seen,” Tesio said.
The tournament hires Blue Strike Environmental to make sure garbage form every purchase is properly handled. Last year, there was more than 170 tons of waste throughout the event.
Blue Strike hires local non-profits like Victory Outreach Home in Salinas to help pickup and sort that waste.
“Make sure the recycling is recycled so it can be reused, and the trash that is compostable goes to the compost and the the trash trash is separated out,” Sarah Ingraham from Victory Outreach said.
“When we come out here it actually helps out our homes, it helps keep the doors open for our ministry,” Ingraham said.
IN 2018, 91% of the events waste was diverted from the landfill.
“To be able to minimize that only allows these events to continue to give back to the communities buy not damaging and hurting them,” Tesio said.
Tesio said this event produces more waste than any other on the central coast, but it will be nothing compared to the U.S. Open coming to Pebble beach in June.
This year the tournament is seeking an environmental certification from the Golf Environment Organization.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kristin Cushman
Monterey, CA: Blue Strike Environmental announced today that the company is expanding capacity by adding EcoShift Consulting, a company specializing in carbon accounting, lifecycle analysis, sustainability and clean energy consulting. The acquisition, announced by Blue Strike CEO, Kristin Cushman, will expand the portfolio of services and offer clients a more holistic approach to developing, implementing, and reporting sustainability efforts.
Blue Strike Environmental’s mission is to meet the needs of businesses, communities, and the environment by creating innovative solutions designed to balance environmental impacts with community benefit projects.
As part of the acquisition, Blue Strike will be able to better serve clients through the use of EcoShift’s principal utility, the Scenario Analysis Tool. This powerful analytical tool supports the development of actionable planning scenarios that combine complex climate protection and clean energy initiatives, and analyzes and ranks those scenarios based on projected costs and social, environmental, and economic benefits. The proprietary Scenario Analysis Tool was designed to provide valuable, data-driven decision support for climate action/adaptation planning, community choice energy programs, capital improvement portfolio analysis, and more.
“By combining Blue Strike’s sustainability management systems with EcoShift’s results-driven analytical capabilities, our clients will be able to rank and measure the impacts of their sustainability efforts”, says Cushman.
About Blue Strike Environmental
For over a decade, the Blue Strike team has been working with clients to help them implement zero-waste goals and strategic sustainability initiatives. The Blue Strike team has an impeccable record for calculating, tracking and reporting a wide range of sustainability standards to help jurisdictions comply with state mandates, secure funding and build innovative mitigation projects that lead to quantifiable greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Founded in 2009, EcoShift has a proven track record for providing lifecycle analysis, carbon accounting and developing climate action planning scenario tools that quantify and compare the combined life-cycle costs and benefits of a portfolio of capital improvements, clean energy initiatives, and greenhouse gas emission mitigation measures.
Lafayette Climate Goals:
Our commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Anyone who has spent time in Lafayette as a citizen, visitor, or employee knows that our community is deeply committed to making good decisions for both our people and the planet. For many years,
Lafayette has served as a sustainability leader among Colorado communities. As such, the City Council of Lafayette strongly supports the scientific consensus that the earth’s climate is warming as a result of human activities which are releasing unprecedented quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As a community, we understand that the local effects of climate change, such as potential for more extreme weather events resulting in wildfire and flooding, may have an impact on Lafayette residents and its economy.
In October 2017, the Lafayette City Council passed a resolution establishing community-wide goals to achieve 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and 100% renewable energy for electricity by 2030. With this public commitment, Lafayette joins hundreds of cities and communities across the US in support of doing our part to address climate change here at home.
Lafayette started measuring the community carbon footprint in 2009 and has a deep understanding of our sources. In order to reach our climate goals, we’ll use our baseline information to build a road map to reach our goals and decrease the amount of heat trapping emissions from our city. Progress will be communicated on this website, and tracked through our membership with the Compact of Colorado Communities.
Lafayette’s carbon footprint includes three main sectors: stationary energy, transportation, and waste. Each of these sectors include the emissions sources from the 2015 carbon footprint analysis. Lafayette’s total carbon footprint in 2015 was 287,604 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e).
To learn more about ongoing sustainability efforts and to understand how you can support community climate goals, please see:
Community organizations led by the East Bay Clean Power Alliance are thrilled with the adoption tonight of a groundbreaking plan for local clean energy investment by East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), Alameda County’s new Community Choice energy program. A portion of East Bay Community Energy net revenues from electricity sales will now be invested into providing local clean energy benefits. This action makes EBCE the first Community Choice program in the nation to launch with genuine roadmap and commitment to bring local development and health benefit to the community.
The Local Development Business Plan (LDBP), as it is called, can maximize community benefits such as local solar, wind and energy efficiency projects and incentives for the East Bay. In addition, East Bay Community Energy is utilizing outside grants to fund some local development projects such as solar and storage on critical facilities such as fire stations and hospitals. The LDBP was adopted in a unanimous vote by the EBCE board.
Many community leaders gathered for a “Clean Power to the People” rally in support of the Plan’s adoption before the EBCE Board meeting. These leaders have been advocating for an East Bay Community Choice program with a commitment to local clean energy solutions for years.
“Thanks to efforts of the East Bay Clean Power Alliance, the East Bay Community Energy program has the potential to bring equitable economic development and jobs to communities throughout the county as well as increase the amount of electricity that comes from local clean energy resources,” said Jessica Tovar, coordinator of the East Bay Clean Power Alliance.
“The Local Development Business Plan will ensure East Bay Community Energy is on track to fostering local economic and climate benefits, such as creating clean energy jobs and developing local renewable resources, while also moving toward a clean energy economy,” said Luis Amezcua, member of the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter.
For Rev. Ken Chambers, Pastor of Westside Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, creating jobs and keeping energy wealth in our community has been an important goal for our community. “We need to create opportunities for low income people traditionally shut out of the clean energy economy. We need to train and employ local people like the formerly incarcerated and people of color with family sustaining wage jobs so that we can afford to stay in the Bay Area.”
Community health and safety is critical for our frontline environmental justice communities. “As Nurses, we witness how extreme forms of energy extraction impact human health," said Martha Kuhl, RN, Board of Directors Treasurer for California Nurses Association and First Vice President of the Alameda Labor Council. "Nurses at the bedside see the daily impacts that pollution and toxic emissions have on our health — environmental toxins lead to higher rates of asthma, liver damage, heart and lung disease, cancer, and birth defects."
The creation of EBCE aims to bring climate justice to disadvantaged communities. As a government agency, EBCE has the ability to take in the needs and voices of the people. “About 800 of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) members who reside in Alameda County have tirelessly fought for climate justice on both the state level and the local level," said Jing Jing He of Asian Pacific Environmental Network. "We believe the implementation of the Local Development Business Plan is essential to advancing structural changes and outcomes that create opportunities for low-income communities."
The plan for local clean energy investments in East Bay Community Energy is a game changer. “There is a myth that says we must choose between our jobs and our environment, but we know that there are no jobs on a dead planet. We don’t have to choose between jobs and our environment; we can create quality, green jobs through rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in renewable and sustainable energy,” said Anne Olivia Eldred, Chair of East Bay Community Energy’s Community Advisory Committee.
With this achievement in place, East Bay Clean Power Alliance is organizing to further engage the community to call for millions of dollars of investments towards local clean energy development from a portion of the projected $43 million in net revenues in the first year of EBCE operations.
In October 2016, East Bay Clean Power Alliance, an Alameda County-wide alliance, called for a ground-breaking program that would prioritize equitable development of local renewable resources, creating union and family-sustaining jobs, stimulating local businesses, and include direct community representation in the governance of the program. East Bay Clean Power Alliance called for a business plan to study where and how East Bay Community Energy can invest and incentivize solar, wind and energy efficiency projects. Alameda Board of Supervisors agreed by allocating $500,000 towards a Local Development Business Plan study for East Bay Community Energy.
Local Development Business Plan agenda item and document for July 18, 2018 can be found here on the East Bay Community Energy’s website.
By: Nestor Resendiz
2018 AT&T Byron Nelson Junior Reporter
Imagine a golf tournament that had no trash cans. What if you came up to a green and there were bottles and trash everywhere? That would be awful.
That will not happen at the AT&T Byron Nelson because Blue Strike Environmental is on duty. They have a team of 40-60 people who empty trash cans from 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM every day, and then actually empty each bag of trash. They rip it open and remove every piece of trash, separating out recyclables, compost and trash. Their goal is to recycle 50% of the garbage, and divert another 20%. Divert means to repurpose things like carpet and wood. The carpet, for example, is going to be donated to people who need it. Yay!
I got all this fascinating information from Rico Tesio, CEO of Blue Strike Environmental. He estimated that each PGA Tour event produces an amount of 100-150 tons of trash. Can you believe that?!
Tessio’s team has enormous help from the company Champion. They help by picking up the garbage and compost. A lot of the compost is hot dogs, banana peels and watermelon. It smelled awful! It honestly made me feel a bit nauseous.
The awesome people helping sort the trash are volunteers from local schools or organizations such as Spruce High School Alumni Association and the Pemberton Trinity Forest Neighborhood Association. They do this work to raise money for their groups.
Final thing before I go – today was so hot we were smacking sweat off our head. But the Blue Strike Environmental team felt even hotter. I think they have one of the hardest – and most important – jobs that you can have at a PGA Tour event.
By Brooke Holland
The city of Santa Barbara has vowed to transition entirely to clean and renewable energy, following a City Council vote on Tuesday establishing 100-percent sustainable energy goals by 2030.
The resolution adopted sets both a community-wide and municipal facilities objective to reduce fossil fuel use through increased conservation and efficiency, and by developing renewable energy sources.
The motion also committed to a 50-percent renewable energy goal by 2020 and 100-percent renewable energy for the city’s community electricity supply by 2030, but no specific plan is yet in place.
Santa Barbara represents the first city on the Central Coast to make the pledge, and the resolution comes less than a week after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a global agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“President Trump may be withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, but cities are stepping up and re-committing to adopt, honor and uphold the Paris Climate (Accord) goals,” Mayor Helene Schneider said.
“I'm proud that Santa Barbara has adopted a 100-percent renewable energy goal and is joining other cities across the nation leading the way on clean energy at the local level.”
Schneider became one of first United States mayors to endorse a vision of moving away from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy.
This spring, she joined the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy initiative of the Sierra Club's “Ready for 100” campaign — a coalition intending to uphold renewable energy and healthy communities.
The specific steps the city would take to achieve a 100 percent renewable goal are unknown, according to a staff report.
City staff members are expected to develop a work plan, including financial resources and setting a timeline to achieve the goals by Dec. 31, 2018.
Santa Barbara’s future sustainability efforts and projects include water conservation, energy management, wastewater resource recovery, habitat restoration, urban forest enhancement and solid waste management.
Reducing citywide transportation congestion by implementing bicycle and pedestrian master plans, pursuing solar opportunities at city buildings, and restoring riparian vegetation and habitat were noted as the city’s sustainability projects.
Renewable energy tends to be more expensive compared to non-renewable sources, according to a staff report.
City facilities using natural gas instead of, or in addition to, electricity involve significant challenges in relation to the renewable energy goal.
Converting existing facilities — such as the Los Baños Del Mar Pool — from natural gas to electrical energy would be “difficult and extremely costly to achieve,” according to a staff report.
The staff report noted the cost of natural gas is lower than alternative fuels.
Approximately 30 percent of the electricity currently used by Santa Barbara is deemed renewable, according to a staff report.
City staff noted that the remainder is comprised of non-renewable electricity supplied by Southern California Edison and natural gas provided by Southern California Gas, which is used to heat city buildings and other facilities.
Santa Barbara could establish its own renewable sources, purchase renewable energy credits, or voluntarily pay for renewable energy through Edison to achieve the 100 percent renewable goal.
Santa Barbara is joining 29 cities nationwide that have devoted to achieving 100 percent renewable energy targets. San Diego, San Francisco, South Lake Tahoe, Del Mar and Palo Alto are some California cities that have made the commitment.
“This will take a local action that will have a global implication,” Councilwoman Cathy Murillo said. “Local energy generation is good for business and our environment.”
The vote comes after the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Community Environmental Council endorsed the transition and requested the council adopt renewable energy goals during a Sustainability Committee meeting in April.
City staff worked with the Sustainability Committee since 2006 to implement a handful of long-term sustainability projects often directed by state regulation.
Katie Davis, chairwoman of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the organization’s members salute Santa Barbara for their leadership on 100 percent clean energy.
“To meet our international climate goals, we must transition away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy,” Davis said.
“Moving to 100 percent renewable energy isn’t just the right thing to do for our climate, it’s the smart thing to do for our local economy. Renewable energy costs have decreased dramatically and are now cost competitive with fossil fuels, and Santa Barbara County already has eight times more jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency than in the oil industry.
"The transition to 100 percent clean energy represents a better and more prosperous path forward for our community.”
Sustainable hospitality has a major influence on engaging businesses with our local community.
People want to be involved with the community they are visiting. They want to feel like they contributed or experienced something that is unique. In turn, businesses are realizing that having a positive social impact on the communities where they work, helps their bottom line. What can you do as a business or organization to be better stewards of the earth? How can you support the local community and the planet while still achieving good financial health? Considering all these factors allows businesses to build a brand that will attract more customers.
Protecting and supporting the natural environment is the first step in achieving true sustainable hospitality. Businesses can offer their customers a connection to local environmental issues and education. For example, utilization of the Seafood Watch card is one of the leading programs that combine tourism with local environmental issues. This program allows member restaurants to highlight local conservation efforts on their menus. Beyond the popular whale watching tours, Big Sur Land Trust offers scheduled hikes to learn about coastal land conservation and The Offset Project offers volunteer opportunities to engage with environmental certification efforts at local special events such as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am or the Big Sur Marathon.
A second step for businesses is to develop programs that can interact, impact and improve their communities. If a business can make the community a better place, than they will have a story to tell that is unique and separates them from other businesses. Legacies projects can include the protection and conservation of socio-cultural heritage and environmental resources, the sustainable development of local communities and local infrastructure, as well as job creation for locals. For example, Peter B’s Brewery partners with local at risk youth to grow hops for their hand crafted beer. Incoming conferences can participate in “gleaning” programs where visitors visit local fields to pick leftover vegetables for the homeless. In some cases, profits are reinvested into a local project. In Monterey County, the California Roots Festival is donating $1.00 for each ticket sold and investing the funds into an electric vehicle charging station at the event grounds. This allows festival attendees better access to the event and contributes to public awareness around electric vehicles.
If you are visiting and want to get involved in Monterey County’s local sustainable hospitality projects, please contact Kristin Cushman at Kristin@theoffsetproject.org.