Driving Sustainability in Sports and Entertainment Facilities

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February 22, 2022

By Nick Treder, Director of Sports and Entertainment, Johnson Controls

To bring a top-of-the-line fan experience to sports and entertainment venues, facility leaders must prioritize sustainable infrastructure, technologies, solutions and practices. Why? Consumer demand for transparent sustainability commitments is at an all-time high, with more fans wanting to understand how their favorite team is working to foster a healthier planet and community. To give a snapshot, 86% of organizations, including venues, have long-term carbon emission or energy reduction goals, according to a recent Johnson Controls study of global senior sustainability leaders.

What’s more, many sports and entertainment facilities across the globe are participating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Sports for Climate Action initiative. This framework sets principals and strategies for participating facilities to halve emissions by 2030 and aim to achieve net-zero operations by 2040.

With advanced technologies and trusted partners, facility operators can drive sustainability while enhancing fan experience, improving building operations and reducing operational costs.

We are seeing many sports and entertainment organizations prioritizing sustainability and net zero carbon emissions in new construction, as well as facilities pursuing upgrades to systems with the goal of improving efficiency, embracing renewable energy, and engineering more sustainable operations.

Integrated Technologies Can Help Venue Leaders Reach Sustainability Goals

The unique nature of sports and entertainment facilities is that they fluctuate between “live” and “dark” days – and energy usage naturally spikes and falls accordingly. As such, facilities managers need deep, real-time insights into their facility in order to strike a balance and optimize energy usage.

One of the challenges sports and entertainment facility leaders face when measuring their sustainability performance is siloed data. By integrating all facilities systems, from lighting to water to controls to HVAC equipment, operations teams have greater insight into venue day-to-day operations, all while managing data from one central location. With more performance data providing greater building intelligence, sports and entertainment leaders are better equipped to maintain energy efficient buildings that are designed and operated with accountability for their carbon emissions impact.

When working with Johnson Controls to implement sustainable operations upgrades, venue leaders can achieve more efficient and resilient infrastructure. A partnership with Johnson Controls includes:

  •    –   Turnkey access to successful net zero building roadmaps, impactful OpenBlue sustainability innovations and real-time performance dashboards
  •    –   Reporting that analyzes energy, water, materials and greenhouse gas emissions
  •    –   An “As a Service” model that delivers a net zero outcome and risk management goals for a predictable, monthly fee
  •    –   Continuous decarbonization management plan
  •    –   Analysis and guidance from infrastructure experts
  •    –   Sustainable lifecycle management and technology obsolescence planning
  •    –   Condition-based, predictive maintenance


Fan Experience as a Vector for Sustainability

Consumer demand for healthy and sustainable environments is skyrocketing, and fans are looking for transparency in venue net zero goals. Many high-tech venues have public dashboards that provide more insight into the venue’s sustainability commitments around carbon, energy, waste, food and many other areas.

Occupants also like to see when venues are engaging in partnerships with their favorite sports leagues to deliver on sustainability goals, a growing trend among teams, facilities and external sponsorship partners. Engaging in sustainability programs and policies with external partners holds sports and entertainment facility leaders accountable to their decarbonization promises and ensures that additional organizations are working to meet the same criteria. According to the 2021 Sustainable Sport Index Benchmarking Report, 53% of teams also incentivize fans or staff to support sustainability-related efforts.

Case in Point: Chase Center

Chase Center, a live sports and entertainment venue and home to the six-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, is located in the heart of the Mission Bay neighborhood in San Francisco, CA. With the goal of creating the world’s most engaging experiences, Chase Center partnered with Johnson Controls early in the technology design process to furnish, install and integrate smart building solutions throughout the new venue. Solutions included Metasys building automation system integrated with the lighting system, electrical power monitoring, smoke control, and monitoring of all critical power, water, fuel, and heat control equipment; an integrated security command and control center; frictionless access control solutions and video surveillance. The ongoing performance of the building automation system and security are supported through a planned service agreement with Johnson Controls.

Following the NBA’s commitment to measure, reduce and offset its carbon emissions, the Warriors and Chase Center became the first NBA team to sign the UNFCCC’s Sport for Climate Action Framework to reduce emissions and achieve net-zero by 2040. Due in part to their partnership with Johnson Controls, Chase Center is one step closer to achieving these goals.

The smart technologies are critical to enhancing the fan experience. A safe, secure, healthy environment coupled with a new guest experience program helped Chase Center earn a net promoter score (NPS) of significantly higher than the NBA league average. In addition to streamlining operations and increasing occupant health and safety, this project earned the arena the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification for Building Design and Construction.

Partnering for Success

Chase Center is a prime example of a venue that’s raising the bar on sustainability throughout the sports and entertainment industry. And it’s not an isolated case: we are seeing many sports and entertainment organizations prioritizing sustainability and net zero carbon emissions in new construction, as well as facilities pursuing upgrades to systems with the goal of improving efficiency, embracing renewable energy, and engineering more sustainable operations.. Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee recently earned LEED Gold Certification and Golden 1 Center in Sacramento earned a LEED Platinum certification, in part through work with Johnson Controls.

But despite the prevalence of net zero goals among venues, many face a lack of in-house expertise and internal alignment on how to track sustainability outcomes. Like Chase Center, it’s critical for these facilities to engage a trusted partner to help manage and facilitate sustainability goals and outcomes. Working with a partner like Johnson Controls also allows the venue to transfer many risks related to design, construction, financing and operations. Funding these upgrades can feel daunting, but with various funding options available and the leadership of Johnson Controls Global Structured Finance Team, facility executives can feel confident in knowing Johnson Controls has an option designed for their needs.

Johnson Controls Net Zero Buildings as a Service is just one of many offerings that can serve as a roadmap to achieving net zero emissions. By implementing digital solutions customized to each venue or facility, this offering can help the 90% of facility leaders who plan to pursue a LEED certification overcome the challenges associated with measuring emissions, the largest being how to aggregate data from multiple sources. Digital solutions are needed to solve this and other measurement challenges. Johnson Controls Energy Performance Contracting options deliver energy savings while creating jobs within communities, mitigating risk, and providing healthier, safer and more comfortable environments. Through trusted partnership, sports and entertainment venues are empowered to join the race to net zero.

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