Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Climate Pledge Arena
The GOAL platform aims to standardize sustainability reporting and processes across some of the US’s largest public gathering spaces — and entice the rest to come aboard.
When the average person is heading to a concert, sporting event or convention,
they’re probably not thinking about the broader environmental impact of bringing
together a big assembly of people in one place — but to be fair, that’s not
That onus really falls on the venue operators and managers, who to this point,
have been largely left on their own to figure out how to reduce various
footprints while still providing a reliable – and profitable – guest experience.
“It’s challenging because each venue is somewhere different along the
(sustainability) journey,” Kristen
Fulmer, director of sustainability
at Oak View Group (OVG) — a consultancy
aiming to drive sustainability in the sports, live entertainment, and
hospitality industries —told Sustainable Brands®.
Working under OVG’s corporate structure as a venue manager and operator, she’s
leading the launch and initial facilitation of Green Operations & Advanced
Leadership (GOAL) — a predominantly online
platform where venue managers and operators can track various footprints,
sustainability progress and other metrics. The platform — launched as a
partnership between OVG; Fenway Sports Group; the Atlanta Hawks and
their home court, State Farm Arena — is a first-of-its-kind pathway to
creating a semblance of uniformity in sustainability reporting across some of
the US’s largest public gathering spaces.
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Fulmer explains that the initial launch of GOAL will serve to collect as much
data as possible from participating venues (of which there are at least 20
across the US, scattered across various leagues and operators). This data will
help illuminate each venue’s own carbon emissions, as well as provide all of the
inputs for measuring scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
“The first consideration is that it’s meant to be easy to use and as
prescriptive as possible,” Fulmer says.
She adds that there really isn’t a sustainability baseline for venues to
consider basic measurements such as electricity usage, so the hope is that
amassing data from all of these venues can help operators figure out how and
where to reduce resources and increase conservation efforts.
The data will also be tied on the back end to service a range of third-party
reporting standards along with other general ESG reporting needs. There will
also be future opportunities for venue managers and operators to collaborate on
best practices both through the platform and physically through site tours and
Chris Granger, CEO of
OVG’s OVG360 division, would like GOAL
to provide operators with a roadmap and help them understand how they can make a
difference within their individual operations.
“The hope of what we’re trying to do is meet venues where they are,” he says, to
help operators become more efficient in areas such as the management of
refrigerants, energy, food
and single-use plastic
There’s also an early recognition of the differences that come with managing a
venue in Seattle, for example (where OVG manages Climate Pledge
Arena), versus a different locale where
sustainability isn’t as ingrained in the operating model.
“One of the things we recognize is that different things matter to different
communities,” he says. “For example, issues of air quality might be important in
one place and issues of water management in another. It’s how you can create a
program that’s meaningful to the community with the flexibility of the
Grainger points to not only the cost savings for venues through more efficient
operation, but increasing sustainability standards for venues — more and more
sponsors want to attach themselves to sustainable operations and a growing
will only play in responsibly-run venues — points to a longer-term incentive for
facilities to come on board.
“There are multiple entry points into this, (and plenty of opportunities) to
create value through organizations,” he adds.
Architect and Living Building Challenge
creator Jason F.
McLennan, who is also a
partner in GOAL’s launch, sees ample opportunity to challenge venues to be
“How one manages and operates a venue is a much bigger deal than the design
itself,” says McLennan, who also led sustainability strategy for Climate Pledge
He adds that measuring the data and creating some sort of industry-accepted
standard is the first big step in getting the average guest to really start
thinking about how large venues can be a contributor, rather than just huge
consumers of resources and energy.
“We’re not only looking for how venues engage fans,” he says. “Because these
buildings touch the lives of so many, how does this language become commonplace
with the common sports fan?”
Published Oct 31, 2022 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
Geoff is a freelance journalist and copywriter focused on making the world a better place through compelling copy. He covers everything from apparel to travel while helping brands worldwide craft their messaging. In addition to Sustainable Brands, he's currently a contributor at Penta, AskMen.com, Field Mag and many others. You can check out more of his work at geoffnudelman.com.