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Tim Leiweke: “Climate change is the fight of our lives”

Months from the opening of Climate Pledge Arena, Oak View Group's CEO shares more details about the groundbreaking venue

By IQ on 08 Apr 2021

Tim Leiweke, Oak View Group (OVG)

Tim Leiweke

Oak View Group (OVG) co-founder and chief executive Tim Leiweke has issued a call to arms for the live entertainment industry to take action on climate change.

“Climate change is without a doubt the fight of this generation’s lives,” he tells IQ. “At OVG, we believe that we, along with the whole live entertainment industry, have a unique opportunity to inspire others to take action on this era-defining issue,” adding that sustainability is one of OVG’s core values.

The global sports and entertainment company, along with ecommerce giant Amazon, is a few months out from opening the world’s first carbon neutral venue, Climate Pledge Arena (CPA) in Seattle.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’m proud and excited that CPA will become the world’s first certified carbon neutral arena when it opens later this year. It’s also going to lead the way with commitments to zero waste from events and using recycled rainwater to service the NHL ice-rink,” explains Leiweke.

OVG and Amazon have set their sights on the 18,100-seat arena becoming ‘the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable arena in the world’ – a commitment underpinned by four goals.

The first goal is to maintain CPA’s carbon elimination by eschewing fossil fuel consumption for daily use; generating renewable energy from onsite solar panels; reducing all carbon emission activities and offsetting those not possible – like transportation – by purchasing credible carbon offsets.

“We have a unique opportunity to inspire others to take action on this era-defining issue”

CPA will also aim to eliminate single use plastics and achieve zero waste by ‘greatly simplifying the supply chain’.

Finally, the arena, home to ice hockey team NHL Seattle, will conserve water via its ‘rain to rink’ system which will harvest water off the roof and collect into a 15,000-gallon cistern. According to OVG, the system will save 50,000 gallons annually.

Other ways the CPA will conserve water include waterless urinals and ‘ultra-efficient’ showers, significant on-site retention tanks reducing stormwater runoff and water bottle filling stations throughout the arena.

Beyond this the CPA will have an advisory committee with partners at Amazon; create transparency and public reporting on initiatives progress; host arena events that celebrate the environment and its commitment to green operations; partner with educational institutions to utilise the arena as a classroom for environmental education.

Leiweke says that OVG is taking the learnings from CPA to guide future projects: “All of our arenas in both the US and around the world, from the UBS Arena in New York to Co-op Live in Manchester, are putting sustainability at the heart of both design and operations”.

If all goes according to plan, the UBS Arena (cap. 19,000) in Belmont Park, New York, won’t be far behind CPA in achieving a carbon-neutral status.

The arena, scheduled to open in time for the 2021-2022 National Hockey League season, is projected to be 100% carbon neutral by 2024 – which will make it the first to do so on the East Coast of the US.

“Climate Pledge Arena is going to lead the way with commitments to zero waste from events”

The UBS Arena is currently being built to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (Leed) standards.

Elsewhere, Manchester’s Co-op Live (cap. 23,500) is leading the way for environmentally sustainable arenas in the UK, both in terms of design and future commitments.

The roof alone boasts 10,500 square-metres (1.5x a football pitch) of rooftop solar panels, air source heat pumps, high spec insulation and façade designed to reduce cooling and heating requirements.

The venue’s architecture is paired with renewable energy, low carbon technologies and intelligent building controls such as LED lighting design and smart building systems to minimise energy use).

Plus, in a bid to meet Manchester City Council’s 2038 net zero carbon goal, the venue is also using 100% electric fuel.

Taking note from CPA, Co-op Live will also use 100% rainwater harvesting for toilet flushing, bathroom use and water efficient catering, and will aim to be zero waste.

The Co-op Live development is targeting Breeam (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) ‘excellent’ accreditation.

Other arenas OVG is currently developing include Moody Center, Austin; Coachella Valley Arena, Palm Springs; Savannah Arena; Cardiff Bay Arena; and Santa Guilia, Milan.


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