With the National Hockey League’s 2021-2022 season just around the corner, there are many exciting things for hockey fans to look forward to, with one of the most notable events being the debut of Washington’s new NHL franchise, the Seattle Krakens. After the success of the Vegas Golden Knights first season, the Kraken will likely have a lot of fans paying close attention to them. Perhaps one of the biggest aspects of this franchise team, however, is their highly anticipated Climate Pledge Arena.
Built in 1962, the Washington State Coliseum has recently undergone a renovation of approximately $1 billion to become the Climate Pledge Arena – also known as the first carbon-neutral arena in the world. This arena is named after Amazon’s Climate Pledge with Global Optimism, which states that their signatories will be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040. In addition to Climate Pledge Arena’s promise to be a carbon-neutral arena, this facility aims to remain committed to water conservation, produce “zero waste,” and be free of single-use plastics. While these claims of sustainability are incredibly exciting, they are also likely to change the future of stadiums and arenas around the world. Climate Pledge Arena is serving as a leader in the movement to green the sports and entertainment industry – by showing that it is possible for an arena of this caliber to be sustainable, other facilities will likely follow suit.
Although it may be the first carbon-neutral arena in the world, Climate Pledge Arena is not the first sports facility to take a sustainable approach. The Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate recognizing their success in reducing water and energy production. Other stadiums, such as Gillette Stadium and FedExField have been making significant strides in their reliance on renewable energy. Climate Pledge Arena, however, is challenging every stadium and arena around the world to push the boundaries on what is possible for a green stadium.
Given the popularity and demand surrounding professional sports and live events, it’s no surprise that the sports and entertainment industries have a tremendous carbon footprint. Each major sports league plays a significant role in contributing to environmental harm. For example, the NHL has one of the largest carbon footprints, with a study of the NHL’s 2019 season revealing that the league was responsible for the emission of 1,430 tons of carbon dioxide through travel alone. With the 2019 season being cut short due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, it is estimated that the lockdown prevented the NHL from releasing an additional 200 tons of carbon dioxide. These rates are alarming, and the other major sports leagues are guilty of contributing to environmental damage.
While Climate Pledge Arena’s initiative won’t address the emissions released due to travel, it will have a significant impact upon sporting and entertainment events. Fan attendance creates an abundance of waste, including trash, fossil fuels, and water. Further, the construction of a green stadium can reduce health risks to the local communities. Not only does building with toxin-free materials reduce the possibility of future medical issues for those in the surrounding area, but the overall increase in preservation and decrease in pollution may also eliminate potential health risks for anyone residing nearby in the long run.
For anyone living near a stadium, the abundance of waste and poor air quality are not uncommon. However, Climate Pledge Arena will likely demonstrate that stadium environs can be free of these harmful environmental factors. Climate Pledge Arena can also prove that pre-existing stadiums, such as the Washington State Coliseum, can be renovated into eco-friendly buildings rather than requiring an entirely new stadium. This may result in state and local governments becoming more involved with the construction of any new facilities within their communities. Given the fact that a significant amount of facility funding comes from the public sector, it only makes sense to put some of that investment toward eco-friendly project requirements.
An increase in environmental awareness among the population and the federal government has resulted in federal legislation that governs environmental issues; however, individual states are typically responsible for the rules that they implement. With nearly every major city being home to at least one stadium or arena, it’s important for state governments to consider the possible environmental impacts that their stadiums may have on the community. Creating regulations that require stadiums to follow the example set by Climate Pledge Arena could allow for a significant environmental benefit.