ENGIE torchbearer of venues’ net zero journey

Video: Coliseum Global Sports Venue Alliance (YouTube)

Green initiatives are no longer the provinces of hippies and tree-huggers. Going green is a staple of the sports and entertainment venues industry and it can be profitable too. This is the segment that evaluates costs; attempts to understand from a community relations perspective; and articulate a green initiatives policy. How innovative green technology is changing the way we look at our stadiums and sports arenas; and transforming them into a model of sustainable projects. Going green is not just an option in the stadium business, it is the way forward.

ENGIE UK is a leading energy and services company focused on three key activities: Production and supply of low carbon energy, services and regeneration. The company combine these activities to enable its customers and stakeholders to embrace a greener, more efficient and increasingly digital world. The company’s sole objective is to make zero carbon happen for businesses and communities throughout the UK and Ireland – accelerating the transition towards a net zero carbon world.

Jade Boggust, BD Lead, Sports Venues, ENGIE, UK provides step-by-step information on sustainability measures exclusively to ‘Coliseum’ at the Coliseum Online Week EUROPE Worldwide – held in March 2021 – and gives vital information on how venues can attain net zero.

ENGIE UK & Ireland is at the forefront of climate leadership in stadia/venues.

ENGIE objective

  • To lead the zero carbon transition.

Informed by Jade Boggust, “ENGIE operates in three core areas – energy, facilities management and community regeneration. We have got 60,000 employees across the world. We deliver across five continents and support our clients with innovative approaches to facilities management and net zero.”

Jade states, “Stadia and venues have the unique ability to inspire a nation. Sports just isn’t for entertainment, it can influence our communities and the way we act. A venues iconic status and superstars can bring others on the journey with them, delivering performance both on and off the pitch.”

Carbon neutrality

Carbon neutrality of venues is becoming of increasing importance and probably one of the most pertinent statements that was made in 2019 was from the British rock band Coldplay – “Our next tour will be the best possible version of a tour like that environmentally. We would be disappointed if it’s not carbon-neutral. The hardest thing is the flying side of things. But, for example, our dream is to have a show with no single use plastic, to have it largely solar-powered.” We are starting to see artists demand performances within sustainable venues.

Challenges to progression

Jade states that when she speaks to venue operators on a daily basis, some of the key challenges that come to the forefront are:

  • Knowledge of individuals – She remarked, ‘‘Some larger stadiums and sports venues already have individuals in sustainability roles which is fantastic. However, we are finding that there is a real different breadth of knowledge of individuals across the sector and often sustainability forms part of the operations team responsibilities, often requiring them to take time away from day-to-day operations.”
  • COVID-19 – “COVID has also significantly impacted the venue sector. It has put a pause on lot of activities that were planned, inclusive of sustainable activities and has had a massive impact financially on the sector’’.
  • Costs – ‘‘It is perceived to be very expensive to implement some of the sustainability technologies and initiatives. But, actually, how can one deliver these initiatives if ready cash is not available?’’
  • Existing client contracts – “Then we have a common concern from clients when they say they are currently locked into contracts for FM and Energy. So, how can you deliver on some of these activities with both relations already present?”


Benefits of sustainability measures:


Looking on the opposite side, what are the benefits?

  • Cost reduction – Jade further pointed out, “The ability to implement these measures could really have significant savings for a venue, inclusive of energy costs, maintenance costs and also within UK the climate change levy, which is a tax on energy delivered to non-domestic users. So, driving those sustainability initiatives will really help with the reduction in those rights;
  • Rising Energy Costs – Jade advised, ‘‘Energy costs are to rise significantly over the next 15 years, so looking at solutions now will help organisations guarantee future energy expenditure and a large accumulative saving’’.
  • There is also the planet – “We need to set the foundation for the future and also a big part of why we are trying to deliver on these activities.
  • PR & Marketing, ‘‘ The impact could also be significant for venues to attract artists demanding sustainable venues and ultimately revenue’’.


Defining your ambition

Numerous stadiums and other businesses aim to be:

  • Net zero
  • Zero carbon
  • Carbon neutral
  • 100 percent renewable

Jade shared, “The above four – all mean different things. I think it is really important to distinguish between which one is which”.

  • Zero carbon – She puts in, “Actually, it’s very difficult to become completely zero carbon. Zero carbon means that no carbon emissions are being produced from product/services. For example, zero carbon electricity could be provided by a 100 percent renewable energy supplier. But for the majority of stadiums and venues when they make their commitment it will be around net zero. And net zero means that while some emissions are still being generated by a particular process, emissions are being offset.”

Jade further pointed out, “Then, to complicate things further, there are so many different certifications and standards, but which one do you opt for. Fundamentally, if an organisation wants to become net zero, we recommend PAS 2060 for venues which is the carbon neutrality standard.”

She advises, “The most important point for a net zero venue is that year on year you need to be progressing on your target and offsetting less and less. The plan element in particular is about the hierarchy of sustainability and looking at the assessment of different things such as efficiency, utilities, heating combustion, onsite renewables vs. offsite renewables, and so on. The estimation of investment required is taken into consideration.”

She asserted that fundamentally, the most important part of all this is understanding one’s baseline. One can’t set targets without understanding that – to be able to map out the roadmap to one’s particular ambition.”

Different types of carbon emissions:


Direct emissions:

  • Fuel combustion;
  • Owned vehicle fleet; and
  • Fugitive emissions.


Energy indirect emissions:

  • Purchased electricity for own use; and
  • Purchased heat, steam, electricity for own use.


Other indirect emissions

She puts in, “Employee business travel – teams traveling between different clubs and venues and also members of the public coming to attend matches/concerts as well is taken into consideration as indirect emissions.”

The journey to net zero

The mission is to reduce the amount of carbon one is looking to offset as an organization.

Some of the more frequent sustainability initiatives currently being adopted:

  • Renewable energy;
  • Reducing waste;
  • Increasing recycling rates;
  • Removing single use plastic items – bringing in the reusable cup schemes and
  • In particular, when it comes to maintenance – replacing the lamps with LEDs; utilizing the facility management team to drive energy management efficiency across the site. Key areas include the scheduling of assets, when they are running, checking they aren’t left in hand all the time and really looking to drive best practice amongst your employees.


Other solutions coming to the fore:

  • Solar PV options have increased hugely – everything from lightweight rooftop solutions to car port solutions;
  • Battery storage – looking at resilience and financial benefits;
  • Wind Turbines;
  • Rainwater harvesting and
  • EV Charging points.


ENGIE Innovation Labs – Solar PV Assessment for Stadia/Venues

She informed, “Our ENGIE Innovation Labs, have been assessing over 100 different Lightweight and standard rooftop solar options. Everything from thin recyclable film you can put on to your stadium roof but also on the sides of the venues, as well as traditional solar PV panels. Its really important however, to assess the investment, recyclability, payback and feasibility of these solutions for each building type. Where structural investment is needed, such as a solar car port solution, using a traditional solar panel will drive the pay back down and increase the energy generation, vs a lightweight solar film. We are really starting to see lots of different solutions and are able to share the output of those technologies with venues.”

Funding issues

Jade continued, “How can you progress on these sustainability initiatives without funding? This is the biggest question we get almost on a daily basis.”

One of the solutions:

“As a Service’’ models are really starting to emerge – it is a business model whereby customers pay for an energy service without having to make any upfront capital investment. Energy services company (ESCo) like ENGIE would provide the initial capital to install these technologies such as LED lighting, solar and other technologies for example. This delivers guaranteed savings on your previous energy bills and a reduction in ongoing maintenance costs. This model is attractive to many companies because the savings are guaranteed to the customer, performance of the asset sits with the energy company and the customer is able to make significant progress on their sustainability initiatives.”

Continue to follow Coliseum for latest updates on venues business news. Coliseum is dedicated towards building the best global community of sports and entertainment venue executives and professionals creating better and more profitable venues.

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