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‘Forever Journey’: The race for sustainability in sports venues – Sports Business Journal

Closing a retractable roof takes much more than the push of a button. For the comfort of the fans in the seats and the competitive integrity for the athletes, the temperature and humidity inside the closed-roof venue needs to match the outside environment, an onerous undertaking for an HVAC system.  

That process is complicated enough — especially when needing to avoid unexpected consequences such as condensation dripping from the roof onto the playing surface — but the overall expenditure can rise dramatically in a venue’s given jurisdiction. 

“The real kicker,” said Brett Unzicker, Tomorrow.io global vice president of sports and entertainment, “is that energy that’s being used, if it goes above the government-regulated amount that they’re allowed to use, the government can fine them up to a million dollars for having closed that roof.” 

Monitoring weather, mitigating climate and implementing sustainability technology is not just an altruistic endeavor, experts at SportTechie’s recent State of the Industry conference argued, but also a business imperative. 

Omar Mitchell, the NHL’s vice president of sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives, pointed to the league’s food recovery initiative, the LED lights installed in a majority of arenas and the recent opening of the certified zero-carbon Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle as steps in the right direction. 

“Sustainability equals innovation,” he said. “This is about continuous process improvement. This is about business optimization.” 

Mitchell added that scaling the same smart home technology to optimize HVAC, refrigeration and dehumidification systems for hockey rinks could lead to major reductions in energy consumption. “That’s the holy grail of how we think about these types of platforms,” he said. “Technology is going to be an enabler of that sustainable innovation in the future.” 

State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, could soon become the first zero-waste venue in the NBA.getty images

The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks are awaiting final certification that would make State Farm Arena the league’s first zero-waste venue. In 2019, only a little more than 10% of its waste was being diverted from landfills; just two years later, more than 90% was diverted for compost, reuse or recycling bins, crossing the threshold for the zero-waste designation. Helping lead this effort was Sofi Armenakian, the Hawks’ director of operations and sustainability — the first NBA team executive to have such a title.  

“And if it’s possible in the South,” she said, “it’s really doable anywhere else.” 

Measuring everything was paramount, Armenakian added, as were sponsors who helped highlight the need for recycling. Clearly marked bins were a simple, yet effective tool, as were volunteers who helped fans dispose of items properly. The Hawks prioritized alternatives to single-use plastics, such as aluminum cups or compostable packaging. Zero waste is a “forever journey,” she said, with an eye toward further efficiency gains.   

State Farm Arena may be a “green bubble,” Armenakian said, but bringing fans along for the sustainability journey — and not imposing standards — is critical. “We operate at a certain standard, regardless of what the event is, but the real change is going to happen when we are able to influence change in the way we practice in what we do and fans taking that back into their communities, back into their schools and into their workplaces.” 

That’s the platform …….

Source: https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/Journal/Issues/2022/04/25/Upfront/Sustainability.aspx

Closing a retractable roof takes much more than the push of a button. For the comfort of the fans in the seats and the competitive integrity for the athletes, the temperature and humidity inside the closed-roof venue needs to match the outside environment, an onerous undertaking for an HVAC system.  

That process is complicated enough — especially when needing to avoid unexpected consequences such as condensation dripping from the roof onto the playing surface — but the overall expenditure can rise dramatically in a venue’s given jurisdiction. 

“The real kicker,” said Brett Unzicker, Tomorrow.io global vice president of sports and…….

Closing a retractable roof takes much more than the push of a button. For the comfort of the fans in the seats and the competitive integrity for the athletes, the temperature and humidity inside the closed-roof venue needs to match the outside environment, an onerous undertaking for an HVAC system.  

That process is complicated enough — especially when needing to avoid unexpected consequences such as condensation dripping from the roof onto the playing surface — but the overall expenditure can rise dramatically in a venue’s given jurisdiction. 

“The real kicker,” said Brett Unzicker, Tomorrow.io global vice president of sports and…….

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