What Are the Most Sustainable Sporting Venues?

Nov 09, 2022

Exterior shot from an empty parking lot of a fully-lit AT&T Stadium at night.

What Are the Most Sustainable Sporting Venues?

We Highlight the Top Sustainable Business Operations Among Sports Arenas and Stadiums 

Hockey season has just gotten underway, creating much excitement for some of us on the Environ team. What’s better than watching professional athletes dash across the ice, hitting slap shots, and exchanging the occasional blow? Watching them do it from your seat in a sustainably operated arena!

As with all building owners, large sports arenas and stadiums are feeling the pressure from stakeholders to walk the walk when it comes to sustainability, but facilities of this size and layout face unique challenges when undertaking sustainable business operations. 

We all know how much waste can be generated by spectators, and these arenas and their large open spaces require extensive heating and cooling. Despite these factors, many arenas and stadiums are stepping up to the plate when it comes to sustainability. Here are a few examples.

SEE MORE: Why You Need to Consider Your Property’s Energy Efficiency 

1. Climate Pledge Arena – Seattle, WA
Home to the Seattle Kraken (NHL) and the Seattle Storm (WNBA)

The name alone brings this arena to the top of the list, leaving no room for doubt about their intentions to be leaders in sustainability. The arena has curated an impressive array of sustainable features. To start, it is fully electric and powered by renewable energy. Using off-site renewables and on-site solar power, the Climate Pledge Arena is the first arena to be an International Living Future Institute zero-carbon building. 

Not only can guests expect a low-carbon experience in the stadium but also in getting to the stadium. In addition to plentiful bike racks, the venue is easily accessible by public transit. Tickets (which are, of course, paperless) to Seattle Kraken games allow the ticket holder access to free public transportation on game day. The arena also has a rainwater collection system to make ice for its NHL rink and to reduce stormwater runoff. Finally, in a bid to reduce waste, the venue has pledged to eliminate single-use plastics by 2024 and has compostable bins throughout the stadium.

2. UBS Arena – Elmont, NY
Home to the NY Islanders (NHL)

We would be remiss not to mention one of our very own clients, UBS Arena. The venue is on the ball when it comes to sustainable initiatives, with the arena being a founding member of GOAL – the Green Operations and Advances Leadership initiative – which sets sustainable energy guidelines and goals for reducing environmental impact. 

While being a change maker in the industry, the venue has made a sizable impact at home. Its operations are now carbon neutral through two domestic offset programs, both of which are certified by the American Carbon Registry. Building on this work, the UBS Arena has big plans for the coming years, with plans to electrify their fleet, add on-site solar, and become zero waste by the end of 2023. 

While these changes are falling into place, we can celebrate that the UBS Arena is on track to be LEED v4 certified by the end of this year. LEED v4 is the most recent development of LEED’s benchmarking standards for high-performance green buildings, demonstrating the arena’s commitment to sustainability.

3. Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, GA
Home to the Atlanta Falcons (NFL) and Atlanta United FC (MLS) 

This stadium earns its spot on the list by being the first professional sports stadium in the US to be LEED Platinum certified. LEED is a comprehensive sustainability rating system, and Platinum is the highest level of achievement. Alongside meeting these high-efficiency targets, the stadium has also incorporated renewables into its energy plan. 

The venue has 2,000 solar photovoltaic panels that generate 1.6 million kilowatt hours each year, the equivalent of the electricity needed for 9 Falcons games. The venue is also categorized as zero waste, diverting more than 90% of waste from landfills. They achieve this by reducing waste, reusing materials, and sorting waste at their on-site Resource Recovery Room, which separates recyclable and compostable materials. 

The stadium also repurposes rainwater, with stormwater collected in an underground 680,000-gallon cistern to be used for landscaping and irrigation. Alongside the cistern, there is a 1.1-million-gallon stormwater vault. In the event of heavy rainfall, the vault collects and slowly releases stormwater to prevent flooding in surrounding communities. 

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium also promotes low-carbon transportation and is near two train stations. Furthermore, the stadium has several bike paths, ample bike parking, and a free bike valet service on game days. Overall, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium hits the ball out of the park by including a breadth of sustainable offerings.

We hope you are inspired by these green practices that stadiums are implementing. While some of us at Environ may still be working out the difference between icing and offsides, all of us share an excitement over sustainable practices. We’d love the chance to talk to you about how your organization can make progress toward your sustainability goals. For a free consultation, give us a call or fill out our contact form.