KNVB – The Green Club

A real match: saving energy at football (soccer) clubs. The Green Club believes that sports associations that care for the environment should make sure they have a green (club)house. Energy costs make up an average of 20% of their budget, making it the largest cost they have. The Green Club, an initiative of the KNVB (the Dutch football federation) and Climate Neutral Group, was created to change this. The goal? Help sports clubs to make their facilities more sustainable.

Our experience has shown that it is possible for the Green Club to make sports clubs more sustainable within one year. An average club can save as much as € 7,000,- annually on their energy bill. That equals 42,000 kWh of electricity and 2,600 m3 of gas.

The Role of Climate Neutral Group

The project started in 2017 with a pilot involving 30 member sport clubs and the Dutch provinces of South Holland, Gelderland and Overijssel. It then rolled out nationally. It was successful and other sports associations (including Rugby Netherlands, KNBSB (the Dutch baseball and softball federation), and the Water Sports Association) quickly joined. At the time of writing, Februar 19th 2021, 1000 sports clubs are following the Green Club’s coaching program. This is a smart move, especially in during the Covid-19 pandemic. Because the canteens are closed, sports clubs are missing out on important income from the bar. This makes it worthwhile to reduce expenditures on the largest cost item: energy.

Micha Rots, consultant at Climate Neutral Group, has been seconded to the Green Club for three years now. He’s the KNVB’s sidekick. He supervises the tendering processes, organises meetings to attract potential participants, tells the story of the Green Club and maintains contact with all stakeholders – including the Dutch Ministry of Health Welfare and Sport, the Dutch Olympic Committee and Sports Federation (NOC*NSF), independent experts and energy consultancies. Rots will be involved in the project at least until July 2021 to ensure that everything runs smoothly. At this point the basis is in place and his track record is good: more than 800 of the 3,000 football clubs in the Netherlands are connected. Rots hopes that the Green Club will have 1,300 associations by mid-2021.

After 2021, Climate Neutral Group will guide the KNVB into new areas of sustainability. There are many more options for making football associations more sustainable: think of having more sustainable transport, waste separation as a revenue stream and natural gas-free sports associations in the future.

The Green Club’s Five Step Plan

The Green Club helps to make sports clubs financially stronger through permanently reducing their energy bills. To do so, they have developed a five-step plan to make it as simple as possible for sports clubs. This consists of:

  • Providing energy advice
  • Making an action plan
  • Choosing the best-value option
  • Providing financial advice
  • Supporting realisation

First, the Green Club offers insight into the current energy situation and its knowledge of potential energy changes. We then draw up a plan of action with the association and consider financial solutions. We get the best deals from the market for common sustainability measures, but associations are free to make different (local) choices. We also apply for all relevant subsidies and determine the tax benefits. The Green Club assists in implementing the energy-saving measures if necessary.

In order to check which sustainability measures are applicable, an energy scan is done to provide baseline measurement (1). Rots: “This allows you to show which sustainable measures a club can take, what they cost, what savings it will yield and what the payback time is.” These are measures like field and track lighting, heating and generating energy with solar panels.

The Green Club then draws up an action plan (2). In this plan, the preliminary choices for the measures are announced and the investments are approved within the sports association. In addition, there are possibilities for using best value measures (3). The Green Club assists the associations in requesting (local) quotations. They also get financial advice (4). This can be support when applying for loans and guarantees from the sports guarantee fund foundation. Naturally, the Green Club also supports the realisation (5), or the implementation, of energy-saving measures.

“With the expertise of Climate Neutral Group and the KNVB network, the Green Club has been rolled out into a successful sustainability program for many sports clubs in the Netherlands”, says the KNVB.

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