The Great Green Hope: The Winter I Met Summer

Posted by on Nov 1, 2011 in Sustainability | One Comment

Way back during the icy month of February, I took in an all-things-Indy-Super-Bowl presentation by Brad Carlson, vice president of marketing for the Indianapolis 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee. The presentation was very comprehensive, but I wanted to learn more about what sort of green initiatives were in play by the Host Committee and the NFL. That’s when Brad introduced me to Summer Keown, manager of environmental programs for the Host Committee.

Over a cup of coffee, Summer filled me in on the variety of projects and programs all aimed at lessening the environmental impact of the Big Game and creating sustainable endeavors for years to come.

First and foremost is 1st & Green – an online challenge to me, you, your neighbors, and your employer to save water and offset your carbon footprint. For a good starting place on what it takes to be “carbon neutral” and “water wise”, this is it.

There’s also been a number of recycling drives, especially for electronic items, which can be especially hazardous in landfills. At one recycling drive, the Host Committee partnered with RecycleForce and Indianapolis Power & Light to collect an impressive 4,185 pounds of electronics.* The next drive will happen on December 28 from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Thanks to Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and countless volunteers, including my fellow IndyHub blogger David Feinberg and the hundreds of Lilly Day of Service volunteers, our city has already surpassed its goal of planting 2,012 new trees by 2012. With minimal help, David planted 30 trees in 30 days during the month of September!

On October 22, more than 500 people – including me – cleaned, mulched, painted and weeded to help “clean and green” 32 city parks and a few other points of interest for the winter. (The picture is one of the benches I painted.)

I’m also eager to check out the revamped Georgia Street between the Convention Center and Conseco Fieldhouse. This three-block stretch officially “reopened” last week and is now pedestrian-friendly (always an eco-friendly option.) The street features pervious pavement, which cuts down on the need manage all of that stormwater. Instead, the rain soaks into the ground and naturally filters out impurities within the layers of earth down below. Georgia Street is also adorned with native plants and trees, which will require little to no watering. In other words, these species are known to thrive in Indiana, even during periods of summer drought.

But perhaps the coolest sustainability endeavor is the revitalization of the Near Eastside. Consisting of nearly 35,000 residents, the Near Eastside has been plagued by high foreclosure rates and a dismal number of abandoned homes. Many businesses have shut their doors, and crime is a problem. Performance in school is less than desirable – graduation rates and test scores have fallen dramatically.

With this situation in mind, the Host Committee partnered with neighborhood groups, the Local Initiatives Support Corporations (LISC), and the NFL to create a quality-of-life plan that touches on housing redevelopment, economic and business redevelopment, education, strengthening families, livability, neighborhood connections, and public safety improvements. The plan is integral to the Legacy Project – a first-of-its-kind endeavor for a Super Bowl host city and the NFL.

At the top of the list in the Legacy Project is the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center and Indianapolis Youth Education Town (I’ll just call it the Legacy Center, TYVM.) The 27,000 square-foot center is a true community project, and guess what – it’s full of green building features!

Among the sustainability benefits and features are a “living” or green roof, an underground cistern that collects stormwater for irrigation and building functions, a geothermal heating and cooling system, educational garden plots, a greenhouse, maximal use of daylighting, and strategically positioned plants acting as natural shade.

These are just a few, but you are invited to get a sneak peek at this sustainable community center before it opens. A few weeks ago, Summer asked me if IndyHub might be interested in getting a tour of the Legacy Center and now we’ve got a full-on event scheduled for Nov. 30 – The Legacy Beyond the Game: Super Bowl XLVI. Not only will you have the chance to tour the Legacy Center and check out its green features, you’ll also hear straight from the Host Committee about the around-the-clock celebrations happening that are sure to disrupt but also delight your lives for a few weeks.

What do you think about all of these green efforts?  Is there one you are most excited about? What do you think is missing?

* Full disclosure: RecycleForce is a client of two21.


Ryan Puckett is principal of two21 LLC, a communication firm with a focus on providing creative content, advocacy and communications strategy for all things pertaining to sustainability. Ryan is an Indiana University-Bloomington grad and alum of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. He lives in Broad Ripple with his wife, son and dog, is a veteran of 160+ Phish shows and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Contact Ryan at or on Twitter @rmpuckett.

1 Comment

  1. Tracy Heaton
    November 3, 2011

    Thanks for raising up this great program. 

    The Host Committee has been a great support to the near eastside, however our community had already spent a year working with LISC writing and developing our Quality of Life Plan before any involvement from the Host Committee. The Legacy Project was developed out of this pre-existing plan. And its been great fun to work alongside so many wonderful people…just like Summer!


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