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Goodwood Revival: Bringing sustainability to an historic event, but still a big challenge ahead

September 14 2023

Goodwood Revival is celebrating its 25th anniversary event this year, marking a quarter century of historic motor racing at the Goodwood circuit. Along with the rest of the sports industry, in recent years the event has begun to integrate sustainability into its historic programme. But how has the Revival addressed its own environmental impacts, and what are the challenges ahead?

Goodwood and Goodwood Revival

The Goodwood motor racing circuit was first created in 1948, before closing to racing in 1966. Almost thirty years later, in 1993, motorsport returned to Goodwood when Charles Richmond, The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, established the Festival of Speed outside Goodwood House. Finally, in 1998, racing returned to the classic circuit with the inaugural Goodwood Revival.

‘It was always my dream to bring racing back to the motor circuit which was created by my Grandfather,’ says The Duke.

The event is unique in that it is the only motor racing event to be staged entirely ‘in period’. All the cars are those that raced during the original circuit years from 1948 to 1966. Alongside the racing, the Revival hosts talks and masterclasses on vintage and second-hand fashion.

A celebration of vintage and re-use sits at the heart of the Revival, and now this ethos is fuelling the development of a more sustainable approach to motor racing, drawing on the Planet, People, and Participation pillars of sustainability.

On-track action at the 2022 Goodwood Revival. Photo by Jayson Fong.

On-track action at the 2022 Goodwood Revival. Photo by Jayson Fong.

Building on old values for a new sustainable approach

A range of initiatives has been put in place over the past few years to make the Goodwood Revival more environmentally sustainable. These include a reusable cup deposit scheme, doubling the amount of recycling points, and ensuring paper or compostable food packaging.

The event has also installed and trialled new methods for lighting and energy, including installing LED tower lighting, expanding the use of solar hybrid generators, and trialling the use of bio-diesel. Goodwood has also received ISO 20121 certification.

‘Our events have their own footprint, and it’s important to us to mitigate their impact,’ says The Duke.

For this year’s event, which took place from 8-10 September, the Revival also focused on encouraging more sustainable travel. A partnership with Train Hugger, a green ticketing platform, ensured that, for every rail ticket bought for travel to the event, a tree would be planted as part of Goodwood’s tree-planting programme.

As a sport that relies on the use of petrol and diesel, motorsport has a particular challenge ahead when it comes to reducing its carbon emissions. To begin to address this issue, this year’s Revival event included a race using only sustainable fuels.

‘This year, for the first time, we had a race for cars running on sustainable fuels,’ says The Duke. ‘This will be a very important aspect of historic racing as we move towards a world without fossil fuels.’

Another new element for the long-running event has been the introduction of the ‘Revive & Thrive’ theme.

‘Perhaps the most significant change has been ‘Revive and Thrive’, a new theme for the Revival in response to the need for greater sustainability,’ says The Duke.

The Revive & Thrive Village, which was held at the event earlier this month, provided a hub for talks, workshops, and masterclasses on topics including upcycling, mending and repairs, and sustainable fashion choices. A Revive & Thrive Workshop hosted expert talks on endangered and heritage crafts and how to repair second-hand belongings.

The emphasis on circularity, care, and durability through fashion may seem an unlikely focus for a sports event, but the Revival is an example of how each sport can draw on its unique heritage to engage its audiences on sustainability issues. For the Revival, this means drawing on its long-held ethos to educate audiences on sustainability topics.

We’ve brought this ethos back to life at the event with the Revive & Thrive community,’ says The Duke. ‘We are keen to take the best of the past forward with us, building a platform with those who champion this lifestyle.’

Despite these initiatives, though, the Revival has not published data on the event’s carbon footprint, or any concrete targets for reducing it in coming years. Building on the work done so far, this is a crucial next step if the event is to become truly sustainable.

Mars Dilbert and Dandy Wellington on the Revive and Thrive Stage at the 2022 Goodwood Revival. Photo by Stephanie O'Callaghan.

Mars Dilbert and Dandy Wellington on the Revive and Thrive Stage at the 2022 Goodwood Revival. Photo by Stephanie O'Callaghan.

The Goodwood Estate’s broader strategy

The initiatives at this year’s Revival are part of a broader sustainability strategy that covers the entire Goodwood Estate and was developed in line with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. ‘Our aim is to ensure that Goodwood’s natural capital is protected and enhanced for future generations,’ says The Duke.

The Estate covers 4452 hectares of land, 92% of which is in the South Downs Park. While well-known for its Festival of Speed and Revival events, the Estate is also home to 10 leisure and recreation venues, 29 businesses, and hosts 1 million visitors each year.

As an event venue sitting within a wider estate, with such proximity to the natural environment, Goodwood has the opportunity to connect motorsport to broader environmental and social sustainability goals.

‘Experiences at Goodwood have been inspired not only by the estate’s sporting heritage but also by the beautiful, unspoilt setting in the South Downs,’ says The Duke.

The Goodwood Estate has published a broad Sustainability Policy, which identifies six sustainability pillars: natural capital, carbon, water, resources and waste, business, and social. It also publishes an annual Sustainability Report, which reports on annual progress on its goals. This includes reporting on the Estate’s carbon emissions across scope 1 and 2, and a sustainability roadmap to 2030.

Across the six pillars, the Estate reported a range of milestones over the last year. These include planting 36,550 trees, installing 18 bird and bat boxes, and generating 2,382,000KWh of electricity from the Estate’s biomass plant.

Achievements include a focus on energy. In 2022, generator fuel usage decreased by 24% from 2021, and the events team placed a particular focus on using more sustainable fuel. In 2022, 65% of generator fuel used for the Festival of Speed and Revival events was renewable HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil).

Beyond the Planet pillar, Goodwood also has an emphasis on People, Participation, and Partnerships. Goodwood has its own registered charity, The Goodwood Education Trust, which works with local organisations to connect people with nature, particularly from disadvantaged and vulnerable communities. In 2022, activities included a Forest School, farm visits, and other nature-based activities.

As with the Revival, all of Goodwood’s sustainability pillars have a strong connection to nature and care for the natural environment. ‘With the estate’s very existence rooted in centuries of careful stewardship of the natural environment, we have always responded and adapted as expectation and the environment continues to change,’ says The Duke.

Six comprehensive pillars, set goals, and a close connection to nature are a positive foundation for the Estate’s strategy, but the roadmap to 2030 needs to go into greater depth on key targets, milestones and Scope 3 emissions. More detailed data would show precisely how the Estate, and events like the Revival, plan to reduce their impact.

Goodwood Revival 2022. Photo by Jordan Butters.

Goodwood Revival 2022. Photo by Jordan Butters.

Future plans

The Goodwood Estate is working on some initiatives that will help the Estate and its motor racing events move closer its long-term ambition of carbon neutrality.

Areas of focus include introducing more renewable energy sources across the estate, extending the tree planting scheme to include 50,000 more trees in the coming season, working on a major biodiversity project, and enhancing rewilding areas.

‘We are working hard to understand our carbon emissions and to take positive climate action,’ says The Duke. ‘Our focus on water is around the effective stewardship of our water resources and with waste and resources we are looking to maximise life cycle value. We are looking to embed sustainable practices throughout our business operations and at the same time increase the Estate’s social value.’

With the Goodwood Revival’s emphasis on care and re-use, and the wider Estate’s focus on stewardship and education, Goodwood has used its history and platform to uniquely connect motorsport to nature.

As with other sports across the industry, Goodwood Revival has addressed its own impact but also wants to use its profile to push the importance of sustainability. ‘If we can also share our now global platform with champions of sustainability and amplify their work, I hope that will help inspire interest in the crafts and retail models that can drive real change,’ says The Duke.

With the foundations in place, Goodwood Revival and the wider Estate have a clear opportunity to address the environmental impacts of motor racing. Continuing to centre sustainability, measuring and sharing data, setting targets, and engaging fans will all be critical if the Revival is to make its next 25 years count.

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