Connor Sports Plant Receives U.S. Forest Service Grant | Athletic Business

Connor Sports Plant Receives U.S. Forest Service Grant

Source: Connor Sports

Woody Biomass Award to Increase Boiler Efficiency and Reduce Fossil Fuel Use

Amasa, MI (Nov. 5, 2015)Connor Sports has been awarded a  grant from the U.S. Forest Service  that will be used to support a major boiler automation project to improve the efficiency of the company’s manufacturing mill in Amasa, MI.

The U.S. Forest Service Woody Biomass Grants are for wood energy projects around the country to help expand regional economies and create new jobs, while reducing dependency on fossil fuels and encouraging the increased use of biomass fuel sources.

The timing of the biomass project for Connor Sports coincides with the start of the 2015-2016 college basketball season, when thousands of men’s and women’s games from all levels of the NCAA will be played on Connor courts. From high-profile pre-season events such as the ESPN Armed Forces Classic in Okinawa in November to conference championships in February and March, and concluding with the Men’s Final Four in Houston and the Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis in April, thousands of college basketball games will be played on Connor hardwood courts.

 “Connor Sports is extremely pleased to receive this grant from the USFS. As a fixture in the global sports supply chain, it is our commitment to make a difference not only in the communities where we live, work and play, but worldwide, for all people,” said Jason Gasperich, Connor Sports Director of Sustainability. “The receipt of this grant allows us to make some improvements to our biomass-fueled steam boiler system, those improvements thereby greatly reducing the environmental footprint of all products manufactured at our Amasa, Michigan location. This project is an excellent example of our unwavering support of our Champions of Sustainability platform, the prime goal of which is not only to positively impact the sporting community, but more importantly, to leverage the influence of the sporting community to improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Connor Sports was selected for the $135,000 grant based on the company’s continued industry-leading commitment to sustainability and longtime partnerships with respected timber industry organizations including the Forest Stewardship Council, the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association and the Green Sports Alliance.

"Connor Sports is a Pure Michigan success story," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said. "This grant is recognition of its commitment to sustainability and quality, which will help the company create more and better jobs in the Upper Peninsula."



The U. S. Forest Service grant to Connor Sports demonstrates the local use of woody biomass to replace fossil fuels and how advanced wood combustion technology can improve system performance, while reducing energy costs. The U.S.F.S. Wood Education and Resource Center supports worthwhile projects wood energy projects in Michigan. 

MITREE staff and cooperators identified projects using criteria related biomass fuel availability, project readiness, and potential project impacts.  Projects in both the private and public sectors were eligible.

Once projects were identified, WERC Wood Energy Technical Assistance staff worked with facility owners to identify project components including facility energy demand, and the components of the existing energy systems.  A pre-feasibility study with cost estimates was prepared for the facility owner Final project design, financing, and construction was the responsibility of the facility owner; however, WERC staff provided technical support to the facility owner during the final design phase.

The facility owner will share information on capital costs, operating costs, fuel savings, emissions testing, and annual performance data with the partners for a period of three complete heating seasons after system installation.  The data collected are used to develop case studies to demonstrate the benefits of wood energy use to other facilities in the state, region, and US. 

The Woody Biomass grant awarded by the U.S. Forest Service will support the Connor Sports boiler automation project and result in the following benefits at the company’s Amasa mill:

•                Minimum of 10% increase in boiler efficiency, reducing the amount of fuel burned

•                Completely automatic boiler operation, allowing maximum efficiency including on weekends when a boiler operator is not on site

•                The boiler upgrades will be cleaner burning, emitting less pollutants into the atmosphere and the new system includes increased air-quality monitoring

•                Greater control over the boiler system will provide more steam capacity, allowing further reduction in use of fossil fuel and increased our on-site lumber drying capacity

Connor Sports “Champions of Environment” Commitment

•                In 2009 an independent environmental engineering firm audited and designated Connor Sports a “Zero Waste Company.”

•                As a member of the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA), Connor adheres to the strict grading and quality standards of the MFMA

•                Maple hardwood used in the courts is from a renewable resource, with the U.S. growing six times more hardwood than is harvested each year.

•                Connor recycles 99% of its waste material and offers wood that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified. The FSC mark represents products from well-managed forests.

•                Connor was the first MFMA member to be certified by the Rainforest Alliance, and is the only independently certified Zero Waste sports flooring manufacturer.

About Connor Sport Court International /

More athletic events are played on Connor Sport Court International surfaces than on any other sports flooring in the world. Founded in 1872, Connor Sport Court International has established themselves as the standard for professional and collegiate sports. Hardwood used in the courts is from a renewable resource, with the U.S. growing six times more hardwood than is harvested each year. Sport Court® is a registered trade mark of Connor Sport Court International. Since 1974, it has identified the original and authentic modular sport surface, continuously improved and patented to provide the highest levels of quality and performance. Connor Sport Court International is proud to be the only sports surfacing company in the world that is independently audited and verified as “Zero Waste” and fully ISO 9001:2008 certified. Connor Sports is on Facebook at and on Twitter @Connor_Sports.

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