OVO Arena Wembley lands AGF Greener Arena certification

OVO Arena Wembley becomes the first ASM Global venue to undergo A Greener Festival’s venue certification.

OVO Arena Wembley has completed its Greener Arena certification via AGF, becoming the third arena  in the UK to do so. This leads the way towards a more sustainable future for the entire live events industry, and as the oldest arena in the UK, the OVO Arena Wembley also has the lowest embodied carbon impact, proving that a building’s age can most certainly be a virtue.

Following an eight month certification process, which provides external verification that carbon reduction and transition strategies are at the heart of all venue operations, from catering to materials used and circularity, the OVO Arena Wembley is officially certified as Improvers. According to AGF, Improvers signifies great strides on the green arena journey, with positive actions and improvements that show the arena exhibits a significant engagement with reducing negative environmental and social impacts, and enhancing positive impacts. Improvers are increasingly understanding their emissions and setting measurable targets for continuous improvements.

AGF stated: “OVO Arena Wembley has demonstrated a passionate drive to run a greener arena and a focus on improving practices going forwards. The team has shown a determination to advance sustainability, through considered resource use, protection and enhancement of local and wider environments, as well as positive social and community engagement. Everyone at AGF is very grateful for the efforts and achievements of Arenas striving for AGF certification, and again we thank you wholeheartedly for your actions to make the global live event industry greener.”

Since April 2022, OVO Arena Wembley – a listed building, synonymous with some of the world’s biggest artists and shows for over 60 years, and welcoming around 1 million visitors in 2022 – has delved into the process via a baseline CO2 analysis and impact assessment, 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 2035, and drive progress towards zero carbon living.

Working with the AGF team behind Greener Arena, the process aims to further educate and equip teams at OVO Arena Wembley and other ASM Global venues, updating operations to reduce the carbon footprint of their venues. It enables ASM Global to preserve and uphold the valuable cultural heritage of existing and long-standing venues such as OVO Arena Wembley, 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 building’s carbon emissions are the embodied carbon in the building itself and so maintaining existing venues before developing any new builds are top priority for ASM Global’s 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 UK’s 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.

AGF, the team behind the Greener Arena Certification, offers 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.

As well as committing to the environment, the 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 diversity and inclusion. As well as taking a view of best environmental practices, AGF will also consider external reach, health & wellbeing, D&I, communications and behaviour change through the Greener Arena certification process.

It was announced earlier this year that ASM Global’s entire portfolio of UK operated venues will undergo certification as part of a long-term strategy and pledge towards greener operations. ASM Global’s portfolio of venues in the UK includes OVO Arena Wembley, AO Arena Manchester, First Direct Arena Leeds, Utilita Arena Newcastle, P&J Live Aberdeen and Olympia London.

Chris Bray, EVP of Europe at ASM Global, commented: “On behalf of the ASM Global team, a huge congratulations to everyone at the OVO Arena Wembley on completing AGF’s Greener Arena certification. It’s a fantastic achievement and a positive step in the right direction, as ASM Global works towards its long-term sustainability goals. As a company, we are passionate about driving forward a greener future for the live events industry, and with the support of AGF, we’re able to continually learn, develop and innovate in this space. OVO Arena Wembley is the first of many ASM Global venues to undergo this process, with our entire UK portfolio soon to be following suit, backed by the company’s social responsibility platform ASM Global Acts.”

Claire O’Neill, AGF CEO, added: “The OVO Arena Wembley is one of the most iconic venues steeped in music history and remains a significant artery for the lifeblood of live music. The team at OVO Arena Wembley show determination to be a forerunner in making their venue sustainable, and helping all touring productions in the UK to become greener as a result. In addition to their own ambitions they are actively sharing with the rest of the industry to speed up the transition from fossil fuels and waste to clean energy and a circular economy. With players such as this putting their weight and experience behind making things better I am hopeful for the future.”

John Drury, VP & General Manager, OVO Arena Wembley, said: “We are incredibly proud to be recognised as a Greener Arena in 2022, even more so to be the longest-standing arena in the UK to achieve this certification. This shows that reinvention of existing buildings and a focus on sustainability lowers impact dramatically while also paying back the embodied carbon in its build emissions. Sustainability is at the heart of our operations and we’re on a journey that we’re sharing with visiting productions, artists and promoters, to ensure our environmental practices align. This enables us to work together to put on shows in a greener way, as should be the industry standard now and even more so in future as we learn and evolve.

“It is wonderful to have the opportunity to develop ways and means to preserve and uphold the heritage of this remarkable venue, and to implement the very best and latest in innovative environmental strategies. It’s fantastic for our iconic and world famous venue to be able to demonstrate that building age is no barrier to environmentally sustainable initiatives. Sometimes adapting to older venues is the real way to develop a green future!”

James Watts, Head of PR, Social and Sponsorship for OVO Energy, noted: “We’re thrilled that OVO Arena Wembley has achieved Greener Arena certification. This is a huge milestone for the venue and we’re incredibly proud to work with partners who support our commitment to drive progress to zero-carbon living. OVO Arena Wembley becomes only the third venue in the world to achieve this certification, and within the UK it is second only to the OVO Hydro in Glasgow which secured its certification earlier this year. This announcement sends a clear message to the industry, that both new and heritage venues like OVO Arena Wembley have the ability to reduce their impact from live events. We will continue to support OVO Arena Wembley to further reduce its carbon footprint, so fans and artists alike can perform in a venue that’s supporting our collective goal – saving the planet.” 

Andreas Papadolambakis, Principal at ICG Real Estate, added: “ICG is delighted that the OVO Arena Wembley has achieved the Greener Arena certification. We applaud ASM Global for its proactivity in implementing green initiatives to support the long-term sustainability of the Arena and we look forward to utilising our sustainable capital allocation to invest alongside ASM in the future to further improve the Arena’s sustainability credentials.”

The development and implementation of these sustainable strategies is 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 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.