Los Angeles-based AEG is the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company. It owns and/or manages some of the preeminent stadiums and arenas in the US and around the world, including the Staples Center (Los Angeles), Target Center (Minneapolis), Barclays Center (Brooklyn), The O2 Arena (London) and StubHub Center (Carson, CA). So it’s a big deal when a company of that size and stature announces a commitment to a 25 percent “science-based emissions reduction” by 2020 (base year 2010). That’s just what AEG did at SXSW Eco in Austin, TX earlier this month. GreenSportsBlog talked to John Marler, AEG’s Senior Director of Energy and Environment to get a sense of the scope of that pledge—and also to find out what a “science-based” commitment is.
SXSW Eco brings together top business leaders, policy makers, innovators and designers to “advance solutions that drive social, economic and environmental change.” Given that remit, it’s fitting that AEG, one of the world’s leading stadium/arena owners, chose the Austin, TX-based conference to release its 2016 Sustainability Report and to announce it had adopted a new science-based goal to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020 at its worldwide venues, festivals and offices from its 2010 baseline. According to John Marler, the company’s Senior Director of Energy and Environment, a science-based target is one that is “in line with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations to keep global temperature increase above at or below 2° Celsius compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels, in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”
Both measuring its emissions reductions and reaching its 25 percent goal are not easy tasks for AEG. “Measurement of emissions can be difficult because AEG acquires and divests properties each year,” said Marler, “And we are growing rapidly, adding more properties than we shed. That makes reducing emissions all the more difficult as we tend to do better the longer we own or manage a property.”
At properties AEG has owned since 2010, the company is just about halfway home—they’ve been able to cut GHG emissions 13 percent—with slightly less than half a decade remaining to cut emissions an additional 12 percent to cross the goal line.
How does AEG go about reducing emissions? Per Marler, the company takes “An ‘All of The Above’ approach. “About 80 percent of our carbon footprint is for electricity for buildings. Energy efficiency—HVAC retrofits and the like—is central to our efforts, as are investments in on-site renewables like solar, combined heat and power, fuel cells, and similar technologies.” And, as detailed in an August GreenSportsBlog story, AEG is testing promising new technologies like battery storage in a partnership with Tesla at StubHub Center, home of the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer.
Other AEG Green-Sports success stories include:
- Rabobank Arena, the 10,300 seat home of the American Hockey League’s Bakersfield (CA) Condors, became the 8th AHL venue to install LED sports lights.
- San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center (capacity: 16,100), which plays host to the AHL’s San Diego Gulls, matches 100% of its electricity needs with renewable energy credits (RECs) from US wind farms and recently upgraded to an energy efficient chiller system for its hockey ice.
AEG’s Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA (Photo credit: AEG)
- LA’s STAPLES Center, home to the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers as well as the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, can generate up to 33% of its own electric power needs using its roof-mounted solar panels and new fuel cells courtesy of Bloom Energy.
Former Vice President Al Gore (3rd from right) at STAPLES Center ceremony turning on the Bloom Energy Fuel Cells. (Photo credit: AEG)
- London’s The O2 entertainment district became the third site in the company’s portfolio to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.
AEG’s environmental commitments are not only emissions reduction related as it also announced new goals for water conservation and waste diversion:
- Reduce potable water use at water-stressed sites by 2.3 percent per year from 2010 to 2010. Water reduction hits home for AEG as its headquarters and many of its properties are in drought-ravaged California.
- Divert 70% of its waste from the landfill across all operations by 2020, helping it move closer to its long-term vision of zero waste.
The fact that AEG is setting meaningful environmental targets for itself is a big deal.
That the owner/operator of iconic sports and other entertainment venues is going public with its commitment to the climate change fight is, to GreenSportsBlog, an even a bigger deal.
For Marler, mitigating climate change makes business sense: “AEG, like the rest of the world, is directly affected by the impacts of climate change. For example, in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the Atlantic Coast, and severely damaged the Starland Ballroom, an AEG Live music venue. It took the better part of a year to bring the venue back into operation. In 2015 and 2016, rising temperatures led to a noticeable increase in cooling degree days, which in turn led to higher cooling requirements for our operations, directly increasing our operating costs. So we see climate change as a challenge to not only health and safety, but also to our [business] success. Our employees are behind this—they want to be the best in everything, green included.”
^ In April 2016, IPCC amended its global warming targets, saying that, by 2022, “when countries will review progress towards their goal of keeping global warming to well below 2° Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5° Celsius.”
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