Cutting the Carbon Impact of Large Sports Events with Dow Olympic Operations’ Jeff Hansbro

October 9, 2015

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John Shegerian: Welcome to another edition of Green Is Good. This is the Green Sports Alliance edition of Green Is Good, and we are so honored to have with us today Jeff Hansbro. He is a Senior Technology and Sustainability Leader at Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions. Welcome to Green Is Good, Jeff. Jeff Hansbro: Thank you, John. Good to be here. John Shegerian: Jeff, before we get talking about everything you’re doing at Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions, can you share with our listeners first a little bit about your journey – the Jeff Hansbro story? Jeff Hansbro: Sure. So I am a chemical engineer undergrad with an advanced degree in product design and development. I’ve been with Dow for about 15 years now in various roles of technology leadership. Most recently – over the past five or six years – I’ve moved into more of a building science, building technology engineering leadership role, and a lot of that movement has been my own personal ambitions internally. I’m married. I have a two-year-old son and one more on the way so this journey that I’m on is personal as well as business-related to move more into the environmental side of how I can do good with my background as well as professionally. John Shegerian: That makes sense. That’s a lot of sense. And for our listeners and viewers out there that want to learn more about all the great work you’re doing at Dow, they can go to just So talk a little bit about what you’re doing with regards to carbon footprint management at Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions, and what is the key mission of Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions. Jeff Hansbro: OK. So we are a top Olympic worldwide sponsor. We are the official chemistry company of the Olympic movement from 2010 through 2020, and as part of that, we have – it started in Sochi 2014. We developed a carbon mitigation framework to use our economically viable technologies that we would deploy in an area that we agreed upon between the local organizing committee – which at the time it was Sochi 2014. John Shegerian: Right. Jeff Hansbro: To deploy our technologies in the greater Russia area. The deployment of those low-carbon technologies would result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and we would apply those climate benefits back against the organizing committee’s footprint. So it involved showcasing our technologies in a unique way through a unique framework to be able to place them against their footprint and reduce their footprint. John Shegerian: So how has it been working, and how does that kind of technology work, and what is the success been that you’ve had so far? Jeff Hansbro: We feel it’s working phenomenally because, versus other credits or offsets, we are making an impact in the region of the games. We’ve done this for Sochi 2014. It was the first Olympic Games in history where we were able to mitigate the estimate direct carbon footprint of the organizing committee, which involved in the neighborhood of 520,000 metric tons of carbon prior to the beginning of the games, and we have plans in agreement to be the official carbon partner of Rio 2016 as well to reduce their footprint by approximately 500,000 metric tons. John Shegerian: How do you do that? How do you reduce the carbon footprint, and then how do you manage it and track it? Jeff Hansbro: So we have a framework that is a verified framework built off of the voluntary carbon standard. John Shegerian: Right. Jeff Hansbro: I’ll give you a case. John Shegerian: Yeah. Jeff Hansbro: In the case of a project in Sochi, we took an air sealing foam that is used for energy efficiency means around windows to block air from moving in and out. John Shegerian: OK. Jeff Hansbro: And, at the time, we were an ingredient supplier. We were 6,000 product-plus. The majority of those are ingredients. So we were supplying an ingredient formulation to an air sealing supplier. John Shegerian: Got it. Jeff Hansbro: We took that formulation and – years ahead of regulation – changed the formulation to a lower global warming potential blowing agent, which involved a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions once that product was used. So a few years ahead. So we were able to count those climate benefits against their footprint. John Shegerian: Got you. Jeff Hansbro: And along with that – so you have the product and then you have an educational and contractor training program for the use of the product. It’s a product with a lower carbon embodied footprint itself. John Shegerian: Got you. Jeff Hansbro: And use of that as well as an education training program to support the implementation of it. Then, that ultimately brings awareness to Dow’s showcase technologies. John Shegerian: OK. So now the product itself, training and education to implementation. Jeff Hansbro: Correct. John Shegerian: Then how do you do then the other side of it – tracking of the success of it and then management of the success of it, obviously, and then tracking, and then creating data out of that? How does that work? Jeff Hansbro: So we have – it’s very important because the backend of it is key. John Shegerian: Yes. Jeff Hansbro: Instead of just leaving the legacy piece, which is very important for us as well for the Olympic movement to make sure that the legacy would be there. So we have two third-party firms that we’ll work with, and one of those is environmental resources management, which on the backend helps us on the measurement and tracking piece of it so that we ensure that the climate benefits are actually being attained, the product is being used, it’s measured, the climate benefits are being attained and they’re being placed against the footprint. John Shegerian: How does this interrelate with what became part of our lexicon 10 years ago – carbon credits? How does what you’re doing tie back to carbon credits in terms of now measuring success, or is this a whole new standard that you’re really creating that sort of transcends the carbon credit vernacular that we got used to? Jeff Hansbro: We think it’s a whole new paradigm. John Shegerian: OK. Jeff Hansbro: Versus the carbon credit piece. John Shegerian: Got you. Jeff Hansbro: So at Dow we have a strong set of sustainability goes. We just launched our 2025 sustainability goals. John Shegerian: Wow. Jeff Hansbro: Prior to that we focused on our footprint, which was our own internal understanding, our baseline. Then we moved to our handprint, which is essentially how we help our customers to understand their baseline, their footprint and to use our technology to then consider mitigating their own footprint by the use of their end-use products. So that’s essentially what we’re doing here with our carbon framework is using our showcase technology in a region of deployment that is beneficial to the games. For Sochi, it was the greater Russia area. For Rio 2016, it will be the greater Latin America region. So you engage everyone in that community, including key customers that we might have or possible key customers that we might have. John Shegerian: Got you. Jeff Hansbro: So it’s not a science experiment and it’s definitely a revenue generator for us. John Shegerian: Right. So it really ties back to, again, one of the great themes I’m seeing, Jeff. We started the show seven or eight years ago, and back in 2005 and 2006, when you started talking to people about being green, there was always this push back of “Well, being green costs more money,” but here is another great example where sustainability really polishes and adds to your bottom line at Dow on every level. Jeff Hansbro: Yeah. John Shegerian: Both in terms of visibility, in terms of marketing, in terms of real client engagement and also getting new potential clients. Jeff Hansbro: Right. John Shegerian: So talk a little bit about mega events. If you’re doing these – you did Sochi, you’re going to do Rio. Does this also now get broken down into other sports events? We’re here at the Green Sports Alliance, obviously. Are you going to be bringing this to now stadium events in America? Is this also something for rock concerts? How does Dow then interrelate this into other sports venues in terms of what is going on just on the NBA, NFL, NHL and other sports? Jeff Hansbro: The leveraging of it is absolutely possible. John Shegerian: Got you. Jeff Hansbro: A key piece in the reason why it has worked well with the Olympic movement is because you first need – this is the preaching element of this conference here – John Shegerian: Sure. Jeff Hansbro: You first need to understand your footprint. John Shegerian: Got it. Jeff Hansbro: Then you need to take steps to reduce your footprint. John Shegerian: Got it. Jeff Hansbro: Show some motivation along the way to reduce your footprint. We’ve stated internally that if we’re going to develop a framework and institutionalize it for the Olympic movement, that there needs to be motivation internally for them to reduce their own footprint. John Shegerian: Got it. That makes sense. Jeff Hansbro: Otherwise, it’s not going to work for both of us. John Shegerian: That’s right. Jeff Hansbro: It has to be a partnership. If it’s a league, or if it’s a team, if they have an infrastructure project, depending on the size of the carbon footprint, I definitely think that this is very possible. John Shegerian: This is the way to go. Jeff Hansbro: This is the way to go to do it. Some of these – especially in the leagues – they have a nationwide fan base. John Shegerian: Sure. Jeff Hansbro: If it’s a team, some of the teams also have a nationwide fan base so this is a great way to engage your fan base in the environmental sustainability piece of what your team is doing. If you are a team of that specific fan, you can directly point to what they are doing and how we might [inaudible]. John Shegerian: That makes a lot of sense. If you just joined us now, we’ve got Jeff Hansbro. He is a Senior Technology and Sustainability Leader at Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions. To learn more about what is going on at Dow in sustainability, please go to And to learn more about the Green Sports Alliance, please go to So talk about Brazil. How much planning, and what is going on in terms of boots on the ground, and how many people are now deployed to plan to make the Brazil Olympics in 2016 in Rio green and sustainable based upon what you’re doing with the framework? Jeff Hansbro: So quite a few people. We have offices in Rio as well as in Sao Paulo and that involves – you, basically, start seven years prior to the game. John Shegerian: Wow. Jeff Hansbro: And so for us, becoming a top sponsor in 2010 but being very involved in the Olympic movement prior to that, this is a buildup of events. I mentioned the understanding of the measurement of their footprint. John Shegerian: Sure. Jeff Hansbro: A lot of discussions back and forth on key technologies that we would use for the mitigation of their footprint. John Shegerian: Sure. Jeff Hansbro: In Rio, what we found is it’s regionally very different than Sochi. Brazil, as a whole, uses a lot of hydroelectric power. John Shegerian: Right. Jeff Hansbro: That was not the case in Sochi. So you need to find different technologies, and we have a technology base that supports that that will resonate with the Olympic movement as well as work in that economy, and that can make a difference. So sustainable farming, sustainable agriculture, lower density micro foaming of films are a few of the programs that we are considering. John Shegerian: So talk about that. You just brought up a fascinating point, Jeff. How long in advance did you start working on Rio? Jeff Hansbro: In Rio, we essentially started back in 2012, 2013 to work with Rio. John Shegerian: Wow. And how many boots on the ground do you have actually in Brazil working on it? Jeff Hansbro: Directly in our business I would say 10. John Shegerian: Wow. Jeff Hansbro: But the bigger piece of that is the Dow office and the Dow support that we have there. John Shegerian: Exactly. Jeff Hansbro: We in Olympic and Sports Solutions are sort of a niche, very small business. John Shegerian: We have a lot of visibility, though. Jeff Hansbro: Exactly. I should not use the word niche. John Shegerian: No. Jeff Hansbro: Because sometimes there is not a lot of longevity to that. John Shegerian: Right. Jeff Hansbro: So I’ll speak for myself here. We have a lot of visibility – you are correct – that goes along with that. John Shegerian: Yeah. Jeff Hansbro: But our mission as a business within Dow is to be the bridge of science and technology to the other top 11 business units that actually supply products. John Shegerian: Wow. Jeff Hansbro: So when you ask about boots on the ground and how many are engaged, we are a small core group but then we have- John Shegerian: Everyone is engaged. Jeff Hansbro: Everyone in that region. And then globally. John Shegerian: Globally. Jeff Hansbro: The Olympic movement is global, so globally to support that. John Shegerian: In terms of before you were involved with Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions and started applying your knowledge to sustainability, how much was sustainability a big deal at Dow before this division got really launched and got all the traction that you’ve got going now? Jeff Hansbro: It has been a gradual movement. It’s been – people define sustainability many different ways. John Shegerian: It’s a journey. Jeff Hansbro: Right. So I think in different businesses depending on if it was our building solutions business, which actually supplies a branded product to the consumer, there is a different approach in how they would approach sustainability. You have tangible projects that you can work on to supply insulation and air sealing to those business units. John Shegerian: Right. Jeff Hansbro: If you’re an ingredient piece, such as our Dow coating materials business – we’re the largest acrylic supplier in the world to major paint and coating manufacturer. John Shegerian: Wow. Jeff Hansbro: So the sustainability piece there is built more off of understanding lifecycle analysis of how that specific ingredient plays in a total formulation and then how it would be used on a product. John Shegerian: Wow. Jeff Hansbro: So from business to business, the sustainability piece is different. And then I mean Dow has done a great job overall starting back in 1995 formally to outline 10-year sustainability goals and – as I mentioned earlier – focusing on the footprint and just getting an understanding of this massive engine of operations and how you would define what our footprint is. You need to start there. John Shegerian: Talk a little bit about GSA. How long has Dow been involved with Green Sports Alliance, and what are you actually going to be doing at the conference in terms of messaging and other important issues here at the Green Sports Alliance? Jeff Hansbro: We have been involved with the GSA for a couple years now. John Shegerian: OK. Jeff Hansbro: This is our first year presenting as well as a sponsor, and we’re presenting on town hall – on carbon mitigation for large mega events. John Shegerian: Got you. And is it a panel or is it just you presenting? Jeff Hansbro: It’s a town hall discussion. John Shegerian: Right. Jeff Hansbro: Fernal Severa is our moderator, is our global public affairs leader, myself and then we have David Stubbs, who is an Independent Sustainability Expert who led the sustainability movement for the IOC for the London 2012 games. John Shegerian: Right. Jeff Hansbro: And then Eva Kassens-Noor, who is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, talking about urban transit and how you would realize urban transit in the process of designing a mega event. John Shegerian: Wow. Jeff Hansbro: Sustainable movement. Yep. John Shegerian: Wow. And you’re going to be speaking – when is the town hall? Jeff Hansbro: At 2:15. John Shegerian: Today? Jeff Hansbro: Yes. John Shegerian: Wow. That is exciting. So it is the first time you guys are presenting – that Dow is presenting at the Green Sports Alliance? Jeff Hansbro: Yes. John Shegerian: That is wonderful. Wonderful. And how often do you have to go down to Brazil in terms of managing the whole process of getting ready for Rio? Jeff Hansbro: I have yet to be down. John Shegerian: Wow. Coming soon. Jeff Hansbro: This is a part of our global team. John Shegerian: OK. Got you. Jeff Hansbro: And allowing them to do their work and focus on what they’re doing. John Shegerian: Got you. Jeff Hansbro: But at some point I’ll get down there. John Shegerian: Got you. Any final thoughts before we have to say goodbye today? Jeff Hansbro: What the Green Sports Alliance is doing here is a phenomenal thing. You have thought leaders from every different area. As I mentioned, 6,000 products that we have so we touch a lot of different folks in the so-called value chain, the sustainability value chain. This short two- to three-day event gives us the perfect opportunity to come here and network and understand what our peers are doing as well as network connections and who we might possibly work with next. John Shegerian: Exactly. Well, thank you for your time today, Jeff. This is really good and we wish you luck in Rio 2016. Another great success story like you had in Sochi. Jeff Hansbro: Thank you, John. John Shegerian: Great. For our listeners and viewers out there, this has been the Green Sports Alliance edition of Green Is Good, and we have Jeff Hansbro with us today, and Jeff told the whole story about Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions. To learn more about everything at Dow Olympic and Sports Solutions please, go to Jeff Hansbro, making the world a better place. You are truly living proof that Green Is Good. Thank you so much. Jeff Hansbro: Thanks a lot, John.

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