Sustainability architect Jason McLennan, who worked with Oak View Group on the design and operations of the Climate Pledge Arena, says the GOAL membership platform will elevate efforts across the sports industry.Taryn Graham
Operators of sports venues Those interested in managing their spaces more sustainably have long been left alone to figure out how to do it.
Oak View Group wants to change that with the launch of GOAL (Green Operations and Advanced Leadership), a membership platform that will help sites operate in more environmentally friendly ways by accessing Amazon Web Services (AWS) software that includes a tactical road map. a library of resources such as verified vendor lists, progress tracking tools, and the free sharing of knowledge and experiences between GOAL member sites. OVG partnered with the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, Fenway Sports Group and green building architect Jason McLennan, all of whom have equity in GOAL, to bring the initiative forward.
“I think this is going to change the face of the sports and entertainment industry because it’s going to raise the bar,” said McLennan, who worked with OVG on the design and sustainable operations of the Climate Pledge Arena. “This tool we’re developing will drive peer-to-peer learning, friendly competition, and truly gamify this process of doing better for the world. These places as instant cities attract millions of people. The opportunity to make an impact in this kind of domain is huge.”
OVG hired Kristen Fulmer to run GOAL; assumes the title of director of sustainability. He will report to OVG360 President Chris Granger, but GOAL will remain a separate offering from the other services available to OVG360 customers. At his sustainability consultancy, Recipric, Fulmer saw a clear need in the sports industry for something beyond LEED certification, for example. Operating a building sustainably is a journey, not an item to be crossed off a list, like completing an environmentally conscious building project.
“There is a gap in the market for operators to continually make more sustainable decisions,” Fulmer said. “Coming from Recipric, when I tried to work with teams or other organizations, they always pointed the finger at the facility operator.”
The Hawks and Fenway Sports are part of a founding circle of more than a dozen organizations that have beta-tested the GOAL software and developed content and strategies. The members of the founding circle will be announced at the end of the year by OVG. GOAL members, who do not have to be one of OVG360’s 200+ customers, will pay an annual fee that varies by building size and type. Granger estimated the average arena would pay in the five figures.
Granger experienced the same shortfall Fulmer cited after helping the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons open state-of-the-art, LEED-certified arenas. Granger, a longtime venue operator, heard constant laments from industry peers that they were interested in making their venues more sustainable (climate change acceptance is no longer the issue), but weren’t sure where to start Consumed with busy day-to-day operations, sustainability was often pushed aside because it felt so daunting.
The Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena had to create their own roadmap to achieve TRUE Zero Waste certification for this NBA playoff game in May 2021. One of GOAL’s goals is to provide this guidance to advancing members.getty images
“There were a lot of people interested in the subject, but they just needed to be pointed in the right direction,” Granger said. “The idea with GOAL is that you don’t necessarily have to be Climate Pledge Arena; you will not necessarily ever be carbon zero in your 30 year old building. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something. That’s all right. Here are 54 things that can make a difference in your world.
Early in the process of creating GOAL, Granger sought out the team at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, including Hawks chief sustainability officer Sofi Armenakian.
“He was chasing them, chasing them,” Granger said. “I think Sofi was one of my first calls when we were looking at the idea.”
State Farm Arena achieved Zero Waste TRUE (total resource use and efficiency) certification during an NBA playoff game in late May 2021. State Farm Arena CEO Brett Stefansson said he due mainly to the tenacity of Armenian that the arena passed the 10% waste diversion. in 2019 to Zero Waste certification (90% or better) two years later; no guidance was available on how to make zero waste happen.
“Even today, we’re still looking for some applicable solutions that don’t exist,” Armenakian said. “As long as GOAL provides some of these solutions, I think it will be a great tool for many as they move forward in their own personal journey.”
The Fenway Sports Group also got involved early on, as did McLennan, who joined GOAL’s board of directors and will work with Fulmer on the company’s content and strategy. McLennan’s experience includes developing sustainable construction and operation standards, such as the WELL Building Standard, which gained prominence during COVID for its focus on air quality. Part of McLennan’s role with GOAL will be working with Fulmer to continually update the platform’s standards, protocols and tools.
“You must always calibrate to new realities, technologies, new materials,” he said. “We want to stay on the cutting edge. It’s not something we figure out once and won’t change for the next 10 years. We’re going to make sure this is always relevant.”
GOAL membership will include access to monthly best practices calls, an annual sustainability conference and direct consultation with Fulmer, as well as AWS platform software that will enable extensive data sharing within the GOAL group to establish baselines. Site data will be anonymized to avoid embarrassing underperforming organizations, but will contain enough specificity to allow, say, operators of a 30-year-old Midwest pavilion to compare their site to others similar buildings within GOAL. software, or with a newer building in a different part of the country.
“Context is important to the operator,” Granger said. “All of that will be integrated into this.”
AWS is also working with OVG to create a community/chat feature within the software, which Granger, with his extensive NBA experience, hopes can serve as a “Sustainability TMBO,” a reference to the marketing group and business operations of the NBA it promotes. and encourages best practices among league teams.
Right now, GOAL is essentially Fulmer and Granger, as well as the people committed and interested in the sustainability of the various teams and places. OVG is likely to hire more people in the coming years, but even so, GOAL members will be just as valuable in sharing knowledge and advancing sustainable operations in the sports industry.
“I’m local. I was an operator,” Granger said. “It’s very important to me that this makes their lives easier, gives them direction, so I’m very focused on making sure that doesn’t happen from the ivory tower . This is coming from places that care deeply about this issue, and those are the places that want to run farther and faster, and I want to be with them. It is the subject of our time. That’s a big problem for us.”