As the issue of climate change continues to gather momentum, it has given rise to a host of businesses offering to help other companies and individuals reduce the negative environmental impact caused by their energy consumption.

And now, as competition mounts, those businesses are discovering sponsorship as a way to tout their products and services to those wanting to “go green.”

For example, The GreenLife Organization, LLC last month became the official “green solutions provider” of the NHL, while FirmGreen Energy, Inc. recently forged a partnership with the 48Straight Experience, a three-stop series of festival and sports events that includes the Jeep King of the Mountain World Pro Championships skiing and snowboarding tour among its activities.

This new sponsorship category encompasses a variety of businesses–from renewable energy and fuels providers to suppliers of environmental credits to energy efficiency consultants–with many companies wearing some or all of those hats.

While a growing number of properties in recent years have developed business relationships with such companies to ensure their organizations and events are environmentally responsible, it is only with these new deals that sponsorship has entered the picture.

Bringing such partners into the fold offers properties more than just cash or in-kind benefits, say rightsholders who have already brought environmental consultants and suppliers on board: It also helps make the property more attractive to other sponsors.

“Companies are looking for green events these days when they are evaluating sponsorship opportunities; they want to integrate those affiliations into their own messaging,” said Henry Schneidman, CEO of event producer 48Straight.

GreenLife’s Goal: Score New Business Through Hockey Tie
GreenLife has aligned with the NHL to build visibility and educate consumers and businesses about environmental credits and other green solutions.

The company works with institutional and residential customers. In addition to selling both groups renewable-energy and carbon credits that allow them to offset the carbon dioxide emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels, GreenLife advises businesses on how to operate in an environmentally responsible manner.

GreenLife was launched two months ago by four-year-old RNK Capital LLC, an investor in renewable-energy and carbon-emission-reduction projects.

“The green movement is big, but carbon offsets is still an abstract concept to a lot of people,” said Neil Braun, GreenLife chairman and CEO. “This sponsorship gives us a platform to tell our story.”

Braun is a former TV and film executive who most recently served as president, distribution and marketing for Starz Media, LLC, and was president of NBC Television Network and chairman and CEO of Viacom Entertainment in the mid-to-late ’90s.

Aligning with the NHL and being affiliated with the league’s blue-chip sponsors will help establish GreenLife, he said. “We’re relatively new, and the association with a brand as strong as the NHL is attractive to any company in our stage of development.”

The partnership also gives GreenLife a relevant platform to tell its story to a receptive audience, Braun said, noting that global warming is a concern of hockey players and fans.

“The NHL offers authenticity because its players are concerned about climate change–many of them grew up on lakes and streams that aren’t staying frozen as long. The iconography of melting ice is relevant.”

GreenLife also was attracted to the reach offered by the league. “The NHL brand is exponentially stronger in Canada, and Canada is a very environmentally conscious nation,” Braun said. “The brand association gives us a level of credibility that will be noticed by international companies.”

In addition to using the sponsorship as a marketing platform, GreenLife also will seek to secure business from the NHL’s other partners.

“The relationship puts me in the flow of traffic to meet people and discuss business. That’s extremely valuable,” Braun said.

As part of the sponsorship, GreenLife will work with the league and its teams to develop a “GreenPlan” outlining initiatives and practices that will reduce the NHL’s carbon footprint and improve its overall environmental impact.

“Based upon the nature of our sport, the NHL has an opportunity to take a leadership role in reducing carbon emissions, while at the same time educating our fans about what they can do to reduce global warming,” said Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s senior vice president of corporate sales and marketing.

The two parties kicked off the partnership with a public service announcement during last week’s NHL All-Star Game. The TV spot will run on the NHL Network, NHL.com and in-arena videoboards through the end of the season.

Another company offering similar services to GreenLife is Portland, Ore.-based Climate Clean, LLC. Companies specializing in renewable energy credits include Charlotte, Vt.-based NativeEnergy, Inc.; and San Francisco-based TerraPass Inc.

Renewable Energy Supplier Wants Events To Open Doors
Seven-year-old FirmGreen develops and markets renewable energy and alternative fuels, including solar power and landfill gas converted into electricity and clean biofuels.

The privately held, Newport Beach, Calif.-based company is using its partnership with the 48Straight Experience to build exposure and gain sales opportunities with potential customers within the tour’s sphere of influence, Schneidman said.

That target list includes cosponsors, host resorts, and local businesses and municipal governments in the three markets the December-to-March series visits, said Schneidman, who facilitates introductions on FirmGreen’s behalf.

To foster relations with local retail businesses, FirmGreen has developed an on-site promotion designed to drive traffic to local stores. Attendees who fill out an on-site survey that measures their carbon emissions and contains an “eco pledge” receive a Got Green bracelet; showing the bracelet entitles wearers to discounts at participating local businesses.

FirmGreen has two contracts with the property: One is a cash deal for the sponsorship, the other is for environmental-impact consulting services.

“We hired them to be our green advisor, and they’re using our marketing platform to promote their company to a national TV audience, our marketing partners, and local resorts and communities,” Schneidman said. Highlights from the King of the Mountain series are broadcast in five one-hour segments on CBS.

FirmGreen receives presence at the tour’s on-site Green Your Scene Alley and also is featured as the sponsor of the event’s online ride-sharing service, which the company links to from its corporate Web site.

Steve Hodge, FirmGreen’s business development director, spearheaded the tie.

FirmGreen is entering its second year as a sponsor of WorldTeam Tennis presented by Advanta and the WTT Newport Beach Breakers and Sacramento Capitals.

The company also is supporting league co-founder Billie Jean King’s GreenSlam initiative, which focuses on using tennis and other pro sports to promote environmental responsibility.