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Men's Hoops Game to be Carbon Neutral from Student-Athlete Project

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Thanks to the hard work of two Gamecock Cross Country student-athletes, Wednesday night's final basketball home game of the season aims to be carbon neutral.

Earlier this year, University of South Carolina seniors Nicole Rheinlander and Erin Fedewa earned a $9,000 grant from the Carolina Leadership Initiative, which promotes a vision for leadership development on campus, to work on the project. They developed the idea after founding the Green Initiative Committee for student-athletes.

"Developing a mission statement to help the athletics department advance as sustainable leaders on campus led to the creation of short term and long term goals to make this mission possible," said Rheinlander, an international business and accounting major. The duo sought guidance on the project from South Carolina Director of Sustainability Michael Koman and Coordinator for Life Skills and Community Outreach Erica Nelson.

An event being "carbon neutral" means that enough energy is saved elsewhere to off-set the carbon footprint of an the event.
Lots of factors contribute to an event's carbon footprint: the energy used to power and light the venue, waste, teams and fans driving to the game, etc.

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Student-athletes planted trees on campus as part of carbon off-sets for the event.


"The idea for a carbon neutral athletic event took shape when Nicole and I began to realize that as student-athletes, our sporting events produce carbon emissions and, in turn, leave a carbon footprint on the environment," said Fedewa, a marine science major. "USC's first carbon neutral athletic event is a great way to educate students, athletes and fans while paving the way for larger scale carbon neutral events around campus."

The first step in the project was to determine how much CO2 was being produced by a Gamecock basketball game to be able to develop a plan for enough carbon off-sets. The duo completed extensive research on the feasibility of the project during the grant application process, researching energy consumption at different athletic facilities around campus and collecting data on what transportation fans use to get to events and how far they travel.

Led by Fedewa and Rheinlander, student-athletes have been planting trees and exchanging energy efficient light bulbs around campus as carbon off-sets. The newly installed light bulbs are 75% more energy efficient than standard bulbs. Depending on the type and age of the tree when planted, three to five trees can offset one ton of carbon throughout their lifetime. The Green Initiative team, with the help of student-athletes, has planted eight shade trees leading up to the game (pictured below.) Tree plantings and light bulb exchanges will continue after the basketball game to achieve the carbon offset target based on game energy reports from the arena.


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Student-athlete tree-planting, from left to right: Nicole Rheinlander (Cross Country/Track & Field), Katie Burnett (Women's Golf), Andre Carter (Men's Track & Field), Mallory Cage (Women's Swimming & Diving), Courtney Newton (Women's Basketball), Rachel Grochowski (Cross Country/Track & Field), Erin Fedewa (Cross Country/Track & Field)


"Colonial Life Arena is committed to educating our patrons on the importance of going green," Global Spectrum's Lexie Boone, General Manager at Colonial Life Arena said. "We continue to expand our own efforts to be environmentally friendly while always striving to aid in the university's progress toward becoming a more sustainable campus."

To help support the carbon neutral basketball game, fans are encouraged to visit the Green Initiatives table on the Colonial Life Arena concourse at Wednesday's game for more information about carbon neutrality. While Fedewa and Rheinlander hope their event will lead to more like it on campus, everyone can be a part of their efforts.

"Our individual carbon footprints can be reduced greatly with sustainable and environmentally-friendly decisions in our everyday lives," said Fedewa. "A carbon neutral event is a great way to show not only student-athletes and fans, but the entire community of Columbia, ways to reduce their carbon footprints and impact the environment."


Men's Basketball tips off vs. Mississippi State at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Get there early to check out the Green Initiatives as well as help celebrate Senior Day for Malik Cooke. We'll also be recognizing student-athletes who earned the Athletics Director Honor Roll distinction on the court at halftime.


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