Zero-carbon traces in Climate Pledge Arena


Seattle Climate Pledge Arena Image: OVG

The multifunctional arena in Seattle, Washington in US, KeyArena, has been renamed as Climate Pledge Arena following Amazon purchasing naming rights to the facility which is presently undergoing reconfiguration.

Oak View Group, NHL Seattle and Amazon announce unprecedented partnership to build a zero-carbon ‘Climate Pledge Arena’ and commit to carbon-neutral operations and events in what promises to bring about a sea change in the partnership for the city and Pacific Northwest, sports and entertainment industries and the planet.

Brian Kabatznick, Executive VP, BD & Facilities, Oak View Group International, UK, will be one of the Speakers at the Coliseum Summit EUROPE to be held at Ascot Racecourse in UK.

The Climate Pledge Arena will serve as the home facility of the new Seattle National Hockey League (NHL) team beginning in 2021-22. The Seattle NHL team is a professional ice hockey expansion team that will be based in Seattle. The team will compete in the NHL as a member club of the league’s Pacific Division in the Western Conference. The renovated arena will also house Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Seattle Storm.

The Seattle Storm is an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, playing in the Western Conference of the Women’s National Basketball Association. The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and seven in Canada.

The naming-rights deal arises from a 2019 initiative from Amazon and Global Optimism: The Climate Pledge, which calls on signatories to be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040 – a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement. With investment from Amazon and Oak View Group, the venue is expected to be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world and set a new sustainability benchmark for the sports and events industry.

The venue will be powered exclusively by renewable energy including both onsite and offsite solar rather than the widespread standard use of natural gas in arenas and stadiums. The arena will run purely on electric for daily operations, eliminating all fossil fuels from the building and setting up the first all-electric dehumidification systems in NHL.

“We’ve secured naming rights to the historic arena previously known as KeyArena. Instead of naming it after Amazon, we’re calling it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the importance of fighting climate change,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and head honcho.

“We look forward to working together with Oak View Group, a new Climate Pledge signatory, and NHL Seattle to inspire global climate action,” he added.

Remarked Tim Leiweke, CEO, Oak View Group and leader of the arena project, “There is no question that the state of our planet is a critical issue for all of us. We have a responsibility to future generations to try to leave them with a better world. We love that Amazon is using its naming rights for a cause we care deeply about—this partnership is a visionary step for the facilities business and sport and music industries. Our goal is to be the most progressive, responsible, and sustainable venue in the world. It is not just about one arena—it’s a platform for us to step up and heal our planet.”

Leiweke added, “Our goal is to make sure every visit to this arena will be enjoyable and memorable, and sustainability is a large part of that. We challenge music, facilities, concert tours and sports. It is our time to step up to face the challenge of our generation. We must take steps to build arenas and stadiums that front-and-center align with our zero-carbon mission statement.”

“Having worked on some of the greenest projects in the world, this project stands above everything in its ability to reach a broader audience and address climate change and other global environmental issues,” commented Jason F McLennan, a noted Seattle-area architect and founder of the Living Building Challenge who is consulting with OVG and NHL Seattle on the arena project.

“I knew the world would force more and more sports and entertainment venues to eliminate all carbon emissions. It was just a matter of when and where. I am delighted it is now and here in Seattle,” McLennan added.

“There are so many things I am proud about with this project. One of the proudest is this arena is really about climate and The Climate Pledge, not being named after a big corporation. It is named after a vision to move to a responsible place for the planet,” the architect noted.

As part of the deal struck with Amazon, OVG and NHL Seattle will make annual contributions to Amazon’s The Climate Pledge initiative to motivate companies to reach zero-carbon emissions across all businesses by 2040 or 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was signed by 195 nations in 2016. The three parties will form a climate advisory committee to encourage and make further progress on best practices, while also staging annual sustainability events at the new arena.

NHL Seattle boss Tod Leiweke pointed out, “Seattle is a place that values our incredible outdoor resources in the Pacific Northwest. Right here in our hometown, a company made a challenge, and it was The Climate Pledge. Could we by 2040 change the world and dramatically reduce its carbon footprint? We’re so proud to step forward with other leaders to say, yes we can.”

The Climate Pledge commitment will apply to all parts of the new arena’s offerings, including locally sourced food, beer and wine and zero waste for all events. The arena will become the first arena and Seattle the first team in the NHL to do away with single-use plastics, phased out completely by 2024. The arena and team are working with partners to use only aluminum or biodegradable bottles by 2024 and all other single-use plastic will be banned from Day One.

He further stated, “There will be many opportunities for our fans to make a difference nightly. We will now look to involve our fans and the community to continue to help teach the world. Fans someday will demand more of these types of buildings. It is challenging and expensive but a small step out of the way relative to the issue of sustainability and global climate change.”

The facility was earlier known as Washington State Coliseum and the Seattle Center Coliseum. It began life as the Washington State Pavilion for the Century 21 Exposition and Seattle World’s Fair. It was initially designed as an expo space by American architect Paul Thiry, and the Washington State Pavilion featured a signature hyperbolic roofline — a roofline that survived two redecoration works, one to convert the facility to an arena and a later expansion to the KeyArena configuration.

Those revamp works took extra care to minimize the impact on the roofline: The arena floor was lowered 35 feet below street level to allow for 3,000 more seats during the past renovation, for instance. The present Seattle Center features plenty of World’s Fair buildings dating back to the 1962 event, as well as the venerable monorail still running from downtown.

Salient features:

  • First arena in the world targeting net zero carbon certification by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), a leading non-profit organization devoted to advancing sustainable building practices;
  • The arena will be powered with 100 percent renewable electricity and will boast all-electric operations, in the form of onsite solar panels and offsite renewable energy. Events at the arena will be made fully net zero carbon through investments in forestry projects with organizations such as The Nature Conservancy that will seize any remaining carbon emissions from arena operations;
  • Carbon emissions and sustainability performance of the arena and all events will be measured and publicly disclosed;
  • All operations and events at the arena will be ‘zero waste’ with durable and compostable containers. A minimum of 95 percent of all arena waste will be diverted from landfills on a weight basis;
  • Arena will use reclaimed rainwater in the ice system to create the greenest ice in the NHL;
  • Original 44-million-pound roof from the arena will be reused in construction to significantly reduce the embodied carbon of the building;
  • At least 75 percent of the arena’s food program will be sourced locally on a seasonal basis to support regional farmers and producers, and all viable unused food from events will be donated to local community food programs;
  • NHL Seattle and WNBA Storm tickets will double as free public transit passes to promote use of public transportation for attendees, including on the refurbished Seattle Monorail;
  • Amazon and OVG will form the Climate Pledge Arena Sustainability Advisory Council in tandem with community groups to support local environmental endeavors;
  • The first arena to ban single-use plastics and commit to functional zero waste. Fans will see only compost and recycling bins, no trash cans;
  • The first arena to fully offset the carbon emissions of all events and related transportation by fans, sports teams and entertainers, achieving carbon-neutral operations and use;
  • The lowest embodied carbon arena in the world; saving the landmark roof and the new arena’s subterranean footprint significantly reduces façade materials needed and the associated greenhouse gas emissions;
  • The greenest ice in the world using rainwater, refrigerants with zero greenhouse gas emissions and electric Zambonis; and
  • The largest coordinated effort of fan engagement with climate issues of any NHL team.

The 18,100-seat venue is expected to play host to 200 events every year, including NHL Seattle, three-time WNBA world champion Seattle Storm, live music and entertainment, and City of Seattle community events.

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