F1 race for sustainability


Ken Hickson
Ken Hickson

More recently (this past June), I was interviewed on the subject of Formula One’s sustainability by Nobuko Kashiwagi of the United Kingdom-based U Brain TV (a web-based service) — see www.ubraintv.com. I was asked about how we could make events more sustainable, as this was something our company, Sustain Ability Showcase Asia (SASA), was in the business of doing.

I explained that our company had offered to get involved in the F1 event in Singapore as we believed it could be run in a more sustainable fashion.

Of course, we couldn’t — or wouldn’t — stop the cars or the entertainment. But seeing as it is a night-time event, and requires a massive use of lighting, I believe there is the opportunity to introduce some significant energy-saving measures. Manage the lighting better, for instance. There is also the opportunity to manage water consumption, the hospitality, air conditioning, waste, etc. These things add up, and take a huge toll on the environment.

I made the point that events are inherently unsustainable. They involve lots of people and energy. There is, however, an international sustainability standard in place. It’s called the ISO 20121, the Olympic gold standard developed and used to provide a standard of sustainability for the 2012 London Olympics.

If the London Olympics can be sustainable, so can the F1, or any other event in the world for that matter.

The story continues. As recently as June 2013, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, or FIA, announced that, over the next ten years, their goal is to transition motor racing events around the world towards sustainability, while at the same time, committing to introducing a new class – Formula E – for electric cars.

Implications for the global motor racing community and all host countries of F1 events. Implications for Singapore.

One of the strongest advocates for sustainability in motorsport is the man responsible for introducing the new Formula E event; the same man who just broke the world speed record for electric cars. Lord Paul Drayson is a former UK Cabinet Minister and his company, Drayson Racing Technologies, has spent the past two years developing an electric racing car. He acts as scientific adviser to the new championship.

Lord Drayson recently spoke about the merits of the new Formula E Championship, saying that the series was the right step forward for motorsports. “This is the way in which the world needs to move,” he said. “History begins in 2014 with the first FIA electric race.

The FIA says the new series represents “a vision for the future of the motor industry over the coming decades.”

We conducted some research and uncovered that FIA has been doing some serious thinking about sustainability, including how the sport can “go green” and reduce its impact on the environment. FIA has been working on a sustainability policy for some time. It is encouraging countries and venues for motor racing events to be more sustainable.

FIA has proposed that the total activity of putting on a motorsport championship or series should be carbon neutral. Energy recovery technologies should also be promoted throughout the sport. The best method of integrating the various levels of hybridisation, ensuring equivalency, and promoting their qualities, is in an efficiency-based formula as described in point one.

The best environmentally sustainable practices for motorsport events, both circuit-based and rallies, should be established in consultation with ASNs and circuit operators. That includes energy usage, carbon offsetting, noise control, waste disposal, water protection, spectator traffic management, and physical damage to the local environment. The best existing practices should be pooled together and commonly established, and the best practice guidelines should be published.

“The FIA Institute last year announced a new program, which is a complete framework for environmental accreditation for all stakeholders — events, circuits, team owners, everyone involved in motorsports. McLaren is the first company to achieve excellence. The institute itself had its audit last week, and we hope to be accredited.”

Commenting on his company’s need for sustainability credentials, McLaren Managing Director Jonathan Neale said that while the team celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, over 100 F1 teams have failed to meet acceptable sustainability standards.

“It’s really important from an economic and from an innovation perspective that we stay ahead in the process of making our sport sustainable in the widest economic sense.”

Last words?

Besides writing about the issue, I have gone out of my way to draw the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) — which is actively encouraging organizers and hosts to work towards sustainable event management — and the Singapore GP organization.

SASA has a team of people in Singapore capable of measuring and managing sustainability and energy aspects of events — as was done for the i Light Marina Bay festival.

SASA has offered to undertake a “sustainability assessment” of the 2013 F1 event; to meter and measure — wherever possible — the event’s energy consumption.

We need to come up with a benchmark. We need to measure the environmental impact of the event — through energy use alone — and see where things can be improved. A full sustainability assessment would take into account every aspect of the event, including waste, water, access and transportation.

One only hopes that Singapore recognizes the opportunity to be a leader in sustainability — for F1 and all other events — and gets on top of, and maybe even ahead of, the international policy for sustainability in motor racing events. McLaren is setting an example. So is Lord Drayson. And Formula E will be a good start in 2014.

The race for sustainability is on, and Singapore needs to make sure it gets off to a fast and furious start.


Article prepared by Ken Hickson, Chairman & SEO Sustain Ability Showcase Consultancy Asia Pte Ltd

Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,