OVO Arena, Wembley

ASM Global chose Earth Day to announce that its entire portfolio of UK operated venues are to undergo certification via A Greener Arena, as part of a long-term strategy and pledge towards greener operations and driving forward a more sustainable future for the live events industry. The rigorous, independent certification process provides external verification that carbon reduction and transition strategies are at the heart of all venue operations, from catering to materials used and circularity. 

Starting with the OVO Arena Wembley, which is currently underway with the certification process, having already completed its Investment Grade Energy Audit, a further four ASM Global operated venues in the UK are set to follow suit this year, and the remaining venue portfolio in 2023. The OVO Arena Wembley, synonymous with some of the world’s biggest artists and shows for over 60 years, and expected to welcome around 1 million visitors in 2022, has kickstarted the process via a baseline CO2 analysis and impact assessment, which will help to develop and guide the arena’s strategy towards achieving its sustainability goals. The arena supports OVO Energy’s commitment to becoming a net-zero business by 2030, and drive progress towards zero carbon living.

AGF, the team behind A Greener Arena, give recommendations for immediate and mid term improvements, strategic emission reductions and holistic improvement of the venue’s sustainability for people as well as the environment. Following a detailed self assessment bringing together all departments and stakeholders, site audits are completed by AGF assessors. The subsequent report gives the certification level across 10 key areas, setting the baseline KPIs and roadmap for actions, not least to keep climate change within 1.5oC in line with the IPCC recommendations.

Working closely with the AGF team behind A Greener Arena, this certification process aims to further educate and equip the teams operating in ASM Global venues, and update operations to reduce the carbon footprint of all UK venues. It will also enable ASM Global to preserve and uphold the valuable cultural heritage of existing and long-standing venues which have many times paid back the embodied carbon in their build emissions, all while implementing the latest in sustainability strategies. Up to 75% of a buildings carbon emissions are the embodied carbon in the building itself and so keeping existing venues before any new builds are top priority for ASM Globals carbon reduction strategies. The aim is for these buildings to be continually future-proofed as the live industry looks ahead to a greener future recognising the importance of adaptation as well as mitigation. In addition to preserving the UKs rich heritage of music and entertainment venues, ASM Global invests in new buildings where essential, and in doing so implements cutting-edge technology so that sustainability is at the core of its build and operations. P&J Live in Aberdeen is one example of a new venue that was built with sustainability in mind. Rated BREEAM excellent, it’s powered by energy from waste facilities on site (which generate waste from the venue and on site hotels into power), connected by a network of footpaths connecting it to surrounding areas and has been designed to be a living environment – attracting wildlife to the area.

As well as committing to the environment, A Greener Arena certification with AGF will allow each venue, and ASM Global as a business, to explore and improve areas of sustainability which are not directly linked to the environment. This holistic approach reflects ASM Global Acts’ three key pillars – community, environmental sustainability, and D&I. As well as taking a view of best environmental practices, A Greener Arena will also consider external reach, health & wellbeing, D&I, communications and behaviour change through the certification process.

Working with AGF connects ASM Globals sustainability objectives directly with the rest of the live entertainment industry, as the organisation has worked with promoters, tours, artists, festivals and the live entertainment industry globally towards sustainability for over 15 years. ASM Global venues will continue to work with incoming productions to facilitate greener touring. This includes ensuring energy efficiency of fixtures, fittings and white goods and collaborating for reduced energy consumption, working with incoming caterers to reduce food waste and increasing plant-based menu options, reductions in transport emissions through provision or required items in house, through to small actions that all add up such as introducing the use of recyclable confetti. Through funding of specific carbon-reduction, environmental and social initiatives recommended as a result of the annual accreditation process, the certification will allow fans and artists to experience the joy of live entertainment, with the feel-good factor of minimising their impact on the environment.

ASM Global’s portfolio of venues in the UK includes OVO Arena Wembley, AO Arena Manchester, first direct Arena Leeds, Utilita Arena Newcastle and P&J Live Aberdeen.

Chris Bray, EVP of Europe at ASM Global said,Developing and implementing greener strategies is of utmost importance to us all at ASM Global, as the live industry works towards a future which is much more environmentally conscious. It’s a pleasure to be working closely with A Greener Arena, a company which is leading the way in facilitating these updates through official certification. ASM Global Acts, our corporate social responsibility platform, pledges long-term commitment towards a healthier environment and planet, so this process, which all our UK venues will undergo, is a very exciting step for us.”

Claire O’Neill. CEO, AGF said, “After 15 years working with the global live entertainment sector towards sustainability there has never been a more positive and determined drive to make change. When many push in the same direction the load becomes lighter and we steer towards a positive tipping point. The urgency has also never been greater and we are extremely heartened that such an influential group as ASM Global, starting with one of the world most iconic venues, OVO Arena Wembley, are making a clear commitment and investing into what will ultimately benefit all of our futures. The importance of social gatherings and celebration are crucial for our health & wellbeing and our sense of purpose and community. It’s our responsibility to keep this sector alive and well to provide safe spaces where happiness, connection and creativity thrive, and in a way that will be lasting for future generations.”

John Drury, VP & General Manager, OVO Arena Wembley said, “We’re delighted to be working with AGF on the Greener Arena certification process and proud to be part of OVO Energy’s net zero commitment. It’s vital that we continue to develop and share sustainable solutions within the live industry. Our iconic venue will continue to adopt the most effective strategies – reflecting our own ambition and the growing demands of artists, fans and everyone involved in the live business.”

The development and implementation of these sustainable strategies will be backed and bolstered by social responsibility platform ASM Global Acts, which pledges the venue operator’s commitment to protecting the environment.   ASM Global Acts, which launched in October 2021. ASM Global Acts is the company’s corporate social responsibility platform, and an extension of ASM Global’s longstanding commitments to creating a better workplace, a more diverse workforce, serving the communities where it operates, and contributing to a healthier environment and planet. These programs are activated at both the corporate and local level, creating value at scale within communities.