Banff Marathon

World-Class in Sustainability

Banff Marathon World-Class in Sustainability


Imagine a giant sports event drawing 10,000 people over three days – and not one piece of trash going into the landfill in its wake. That’s just one of the sustainability achievements of the Banff Marathon, now known as the “World’s Greenest Marathon,” with the honor of becoming Canada’s first member of the UN Sports for Climate Change Action initiative in 2019. 

This is thanks to Canadian environmental consulting firm SustainDriven, led by ESRAG Director Joey O’Brien. As sustainability director for the Marathon, O’Brien applies ten strategies to protect Banff National Park and to prevent global warming. These include carbon offsets to make the event carbon neutral, using certified green energy from renewable sources, and following a sustainability-based purchasing and procurement guide. The event deploys every possible communication mode to inspire participants to value the biodiversity of the park and to make sustainable choices, like hopping on Banff’s partial electric bus fleet instead of driving their own cars. Participants receive an electronic “virtual” event bag rather than the usual sack filled with paper and stuff in plastic wrappers. The race’s bio-digestible cups are made of corn and compost in a matter of days.

O’Brien, a member of the Rotary Club of Canmore in Alberta, ran alpine resorts for forty years before making climate action his top priority. SustainDriven advises businesses and events on sustainable and cost-effective water, waste, and energy solutions to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. “My company’s vision statement is we wish to be able to explain to our grandchildren in 20 years how we had a material influence on the climate crisis,” he says.

Presently he is working with team of experts developing a low carbon diesel fuel and other high value offtakes plant in eastern Canada. The first delivery of carbon neutral fuel is expected to take 24 months.