Live entertainment venues are switching to greener operations as technological advancements have made tackling waste and emissions easier. Some prominent arenas and sports teams have already received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and use fan engagement to reduce a venue’s carbon footprint. You’ve probably read about them in our long-standing series, Home Field.
However, LEED certification is one step in making live sports and concerts greener. In October 2022, Oak View Group (OVG), Fenway Sports Group, State Farm Arena and the Atlanta Hawks, and Jason F. McLennan, a leading green building architect, launched the Green Operations and Advanced Leadership (GOAL) stadium management platform to take it to the next level. It allows venues and organizations to track sustainability progress using an online dashboard.
OVG, one of the largest live entertainment developers in the U.S., leads the project. Oak View also has a strategic partnership with the Green Sports Alliance to coordinate more climate action among sports organizations.
“GOAL offers something much more dynamic: the ability to share information and best practices amongst facilities trying to make a difference in this space in real-time, and a way to accelerate sustainability efforts with the GOAL of reducing carbon footprints,” Eric Woolworth, president of business operations at The HEAT Group, said on the GOAL website.
The membership-based platform contains around 25 stadiums, arenas, and organizations worldwide.
Photo Courtesy Climate Pledge Arena
Climate Pledge Arena set the standard for stadiums when it opened in 2021. It’s the most carbon-neutral entertainment venue in the country, putting sustainability at the forefront. Some of its practices include recapturing and reusing rainwater, using compostable items in concessions, and eliminating fossil fuels in operations. When the NHL’s Seattle Kraken began its inaugural season in 2021–22, the arena used Zambonis that use clean energy to clean the ice.
Twenty-five members are part of the Founding Circle. Each club/venue has specific ESG goals it hopes to meet to improve sustainability practices in the sports world. The goals include reducing all three Scope emissions, improving water efficiency and quality, reducing waste, encouraging proper nutrition and health and wellness, promoting diversity and inclusion, and establishing sustainable partnerships.
However, GOAL is not limited to sports teams and stadiums. Racing leagues like Chip Ganassi Racing have joined as well. Ganassi Racing is the motorsports organization that brought the GMC Hummer EV to Extreme E.
More stadiums and teams are copying each other’s sustainability plans similarly to how they copy strategies to win championships. GOAL supplies these teams with data visualization tools to improve stadiums’ green operations.
“GOAL helps venues learn and employ best practices in vendor-supply chain engagement, community resiliency, and more,” Kristen Fulmer, Oak View Group sustainability director and GOAL director, told the “GreenSportsBlog.”
Photo Courtesy Chris Alvarenga
Chris Granger, president of OVG360 — an OVG stadium management firm — attests that all live entertainment venues can work with the platform. “We look forward to working with this group and all venues, leagues, conferences, universities, and organizations committed to true sustainability and lasting social impact,” he told “GreenSportsBlog.” “We have no time to waste.”
OVG360 assists in venue management, artist booking, consulting, hospitality, and content development. It saves sports and entertainment organizations money from business operating costs and keeps a low carbon footprint.
An example of OVG360’s inclusiveness is when pop star Billie Eilish requested no single-use plastic on her 2022 tour. With more buy-in from A-list celebrities and athletes, the GOAL platform and Oak View’s consultancy could drive a new wave of sustainability in stadium development and operation.
“Sustainability is kind of noisy; ESG is a catchphrase that everyone knows but doesn’t quite know the meaning of, so there are some things that we can demystify about it,” she told CNBC. “We want to help them figure out what are things that are relevant to me, my specific building, my specific market, my community, my employees so that they can hone in on something that’s really unique.”