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Cul Green Initiative (CGI)

Anonymous (not verified)
Published on: 09/06/2009 Document Archived


"ESB's recently announced a €22 billion capital spending including ambitious carbon-reduction targets for the company, leading to a net-zero carbon ESB  by 2035. Initiatives such as the Croke Park Cúl Green environmental project are a natural progression for ESB in pursuit of this radical sustainability agenda".

ESB has set a target of reducing their carbon footprint by 30% by 2012, and by 50% by 2020 and of being net carbon neutral by 2035.To support this objective ESB aims to encourage the public to use energy more efficiently. It identified several key initiatives to help promote this including Cúl Green, a partnership between ESB, the GAA and Croke Park. ESB chose to partner with the GAA considering it provides an excellent network to communicate their message to the general public and Croke Park was also chosen as the first project.

The Cúl Green plan sets ambitious environmental targets for Croke Park, dramatically reducing the carbon footprint at Ireland's most popular sporting venue over the next six years. The new project, in the immediate term, will cut Croke Park's annual 4 500 tons carbon emissions output by more than two-thirds.

The carbon footprint will be reduced through direct initiatives and encouraging fans to make "energy saving" pledges which will go towards the environmental targets for Croke Park and save energy and money.

The web site in summary

The web site is a key part of the overall Cúl Green initiatives

It allows fans and all interested members of the public to play their part by pledging to reduce their own carbon footprint and their completed pledges contribute to the overall stadium target. The website contains a comprehensive pledging system with full details of each of the pledges including their carbon saving. Details of the carbon reduction (energy saving) projects planned and underway in the stadium itself will be published on the site. The website has been designed in a flexible manner so that for example new pledges can be easily added. There are many planned enhancements including a blog to promote the initiatives underway in Croke Park Stadium and more content relevant to children.

Policy Context

The Cul Green project is supported and audited by the Carbon Reduction (CRed) Programme which was set up in 2003 by the University of East Anglia's environmental scientists. Its purpose is to support, monitor and evaluate progress towards a lower carbon future. CRed supports a range of community-based projects such as the Cul Green initiative. To date around 50 000 people and 150 organisations have signed up to CRed making 150 000 carbon reduction pledges.

Description of target users and groups

A total of 2.2 million people attended Croke Park last year from all over Ireland, making it the biggest venue in Ireland and the new sustainability plan will extend to fans' activities in reducing the environmental impact of their travel to and from the stadium.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

Cúl Green allows the public to register using a simple process, login and make a variety of pledges using the comprehensive pledge engine with has been developed with the assistance of the University of East Anglia.  Both are demonstrated in the screenshots below. No system like Cúl Green existed previously therefore it is highly innovative.ESB developed and hosts the application.  The web site was developed using the latest version of Microsoft .NET and SQL Server.  It includes a comprehensive bespoke User and Pledge Management system which conforms to ESB's very strict Data Security and Protection standards.  The Website also includes a bespoke Content Management System to ensure that News and Success Stories and other dynamic content (such as Today's Tips) are kept up to date.

Simple Registration Process

Logged-In Screen with Today's Tip

Manage My Pledges - with my pledge and status open by defaul

Up-to-date News

Technology solution

Development Technologies

ESBI Computing has ensured that the System will be based on current, proven web technologies and have selected software applications that can be developed upon and more significantly, added to in the event of future requirements. The solution was developed using industry standards Microsoft ASP.Net and SQL Server 2005.

By developing the solution in Microsoft .NET 2.0 the solution is using the latest most stable technology and is therefore future-proofed.  

The use of SQL Server 2005 to store data is beneficial because

(a) it provides data maintenance benefits,

(b) it is scalable,

(c) it is performing and resilient, and

(d) It is future-proof for the duration of the project.

The application is based on Carbon Saving Pledges developed and updated on an ongoing basis by Carbon Reduction experts C-Red. The site is also continuously updated with News Items and Carbon Saving Targets supplied by Croke Park. The application was designed to be easily updateable so that input from both of these organisations could help to provide the user with fresh and up-to-date content.

Standards & Guidelines


The site has been validated to the XHTML 1.0 Strict Standard to ensure the application is robust and can be viewed by a wide variety of browsers. All element styling is done using CSS.


ESB are committed to providing information online which is accessible to all. Every effort has been made to ensure that the Cúl Green website complies with the guidelines of the international Web Accessibility standard WCAG 1.0 Level-A. This includes the following considerations:

  • All information is easily accessible using screen readers
  • All functionality can be accessed without using Javascript.
  • The font used by the site can be changed on-site
  • Color blindness simulators used avoid problems for people  with various types of color-blindness.

The website has been independently audited by to confirm this.


The site was designed for performance as the site does regularly experience high traffic volumes. In order to ensure that the site could perform well both the C# code and SQL stored procedures were optimised and fully stress tested. Also caching is used where appropriate to conserver server resources.


Powerful Role-based security has been implemented as an implementation of Microsoft's ASP.Net Membership system. This ensures that users data is secure by implementing a number of security measures:

  • Passwords are only stored in encrypted form
  • Users are locked out after a number of unsuccessful logins
  • The application has been written to ensure all user-entry fields are properly validated to prevent SQL-injection type attacks.
  • The application has undergone penetration testing by independent experts. Database connection details used by the application are in encrypted form in the application configuration file.
Technology choice: Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

Cúl Green has tremendous business and wider environmental benefits for both ESB and the GAA and the public.  Specifically the Cúl Green initiative will:

  • Supports ESB's initiative to encourage the public to use energy more efficiently saving them money and helping the environment.
  • Reduce Croke Park's carbon footprint to zero, also benefiting the environment
  • Reduce Croke Park's energy needs bringing significant cost savings through specific stadium initiatives. Croke Park aims to have achieved the ISO 14001 for best environmental practice by the end of 2009
  • Engage with people and educate them about their carbon footprint giving proven scientific information on carbon reduction options
  • Motivate people to reduce their carbon emissions by encouraging them to become part of a collective and giving them the vehicle to do it.

Our objective is to encourage the public to save the following:

  • 1 500 tons of carbon by March 2009 (we have already over 1,226 tonnes in three months)
  • 4 500 tons by the end of 2009 (with a full GAA season)

As of 7th November, has achieved the following:

  • 10 409 pledges made by supporters
  • 1 226 tons of carbon saved
  • 209 tons of carbon saved by Dublin fans
  • 172 tons of carbon saved by Limerick fans
  • 114 tons of carbon saved by Cork fans
  • 4 222 people have pledged to install low energy light bulbs
  • 3 928 people have pledged to switch off lights not being used
  • 35 people have pledged to install a woodchip boiler
  • 152 people have pledged to drop a flight and holiday closer to home
  • 306 people have pledged to install lagging on their immersion and hot water pipes
  • 112 friends signed up to the "Make Croke Park Carbon Neutral" group on Facebook after one week

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

Last week Cúl Green launched a page on Facebook. There has been a very positive response to it with over 1 900 people joining the page and allowing us to keep them updated on the initiative's progress and also to reward them with the chance to win tickets to Croke Park each month.

We are now able to share news updates, keep a diary of the initiative, encourage feedback among fans of the page and publish and easily share photos and video related to the Cúl Green initiative. There has been an excellent response so far from Cúl Green fans with over 300 people leaving messages of support.

Kristin Quinn, ESB Corporate Affairs, recognises the need for Cúl Green to "use the social networking websites, such as Facebook, to connect with people in a relevant and meaningful way. Through our Cúl Green page we are able to engage with sport fans around the world and also with a very wide audience of people committed to protecting the environment". With over 600 000 people in Ireland now on Facebook it offers us a great opportunity to strengthen awareness of the Cúl Green initiative.

On the Cul Green Site there are also other social book-marking links such as, Digg, and Reddit.


Ongoing advertising campaign focused on the recruitment drive for pledges. This included a national TV, radio, print and billboard advertising campaign.

Media outreach:

Substantial media outreach since the start of the campaign; nationally, regionally and locally. This has included photos, press releases and promotional competitions.

Match Day activity

Team of ad walkers engaged with fans on match days allowing them to pledge remotely en route to match. Generated email database for post championship reminders to visit website. Eco-Cab in Cúl Green branding ferrying people around Croke Park on match day.

Lessons learnt

We had over 1 000 people completing the Cúl Green survey earlier this year and that feedback allowed ESB, the GAA and Croke Park to develop a well informed plan for the website update. We have learned that feedback is essential to keeping the site relevant.
GAA fans and others were clearly very keen to learn more about the environmental engineering work being done within Croke Park as part of the Cúl Green initiative so we have developed a page dedicated to showcasing the work within the stadium covering environmental systems and processes in the key areas such as electricity, water and waste

From the survey and also from Cúl Green users sharing their experiences with us through their Success Stories it is clear that children are an important part in developing familyâ€TMs carbon saving habits. Whether it is offering prizes at home to encourage kids to turn off lights or environmental awareness that is encouraged at school it is clear that many adultsâ€TM motivation for making pledges is their children. With that in mind we are working on a "Kid's Corner" that will make pledging more meaningful for children.

Scope: Local (city or municipality), National