Earlier this month, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced it received one of sports’ most prestigious sustainability awards, becoming the first venue in the world to do so. One Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs student was at the forefront of this important work at the Brickyard.
IMS was awarded a silver level certification by the Council for Responsible Sport, the first organizational certification awarded by the council. Certification is earned through acquiring credits in five categories: planning and communications, procurement, resource management, access and equity, and community legacy.
Mary Claire Noble, a Master of Public Affairs-Master of Science in Environmental Science dual degree student at the O’Neill School and a McKinney Climate Fellow last summer, worked for Penske Entertainment’s sustainability team, which sought out ways to make both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the NTT IndyCar Series more sustainable.
Noble and the IMS team achieved the award, one of its biggest initial goals, by implementing a robust data tracking system for greenhouse gases and environmental impacts, adopting new procurement policies and protocols, eliminating single-use plastic and Styrofoam in office spaces, in addition to prioritizing purchases from women- and minority-owned businesses and businesses with sustainability related certifications.
“For the council, you have to report how you are managing your resources, so you have equity,” Noble said. “It’s tying together those things that are so important to McKinney—- sustainability, as well as equity and diversity and how those two are so intertwined. And the Council for Responsible Sport really makes sure that you’re checking all those boxes and you’re becoming an accessible place for everyone.”
IMS received an award for the 105th Indianapolis 500 in 2021, which the council recognized as a responsible event. That put the Greatest Spectacle in Racing alongside the NCAA’s Men’s and Women’s Final Fours and the MLB All Star game as some of the most notable events to be recognized.
“IMS is proud to be the first ever to achieve an organization certification from Council for Responsible Sport,” IMS sustainability program leader Logan Waddle said. “This historic accomplishment further cements our place as leaders in motorsports and entertainment sustainability, and we are excited to continue building on this momentum in 2023 and beyond.”
The work toward making the world a more equitable and sustainable place never stops, but it is clear O’Neill students are helping lead for the greater good, even in the world of motorsports.
“You know, we’re in square one,” said Noble last summer. “And that means that we just have so much opportunity, and I’m so excited to see what becomes of this in 5-10 years and see what we can we accomplish.