Big milestone for State Farm Arena sustainability efforts, as the home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks earns TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Platinum certification from Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body.
With this certification, State Farm Arena is now the only and world’s first sports and live entertainment venue in the world to receive TRUE certification. In 2019, State Farm Arena diverted only an average of 10 percent of total waste, but after making the commitment to sustainability in May 2021, the venue has consistently diverted a minimum of 90 percent of fan-generated waste from landfills.
According to the GBCI, buildings can earn four levels of TRUE certification: Certified (31-37 points), Silver (38-45 points), Gold (46-63 points) and Platinum (64-81 points). State Farm Arena received the Platinum designation, the highest of four classifications of green buildings. In achieving TRUE Platinum, the venue earned near the maximum number of points from a variety of categories including: redesign, reduce, reuse, compost (re-earth), recycle, zero waste reporting, diversion (min. 90 percent), zero waste purchasing, leadership, training, zero waste analysis, upstream management, hazardous waste prevention, closed loop system and innovation.
“We are honored to receive TRUE Platinum certification from GBCI as we continue to set the standard as a global leader in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Brett Stefansson, Hawks’ EVP and General Manager of State Farm Arena, via press statement.
A State Farm Arena sustainability highlight leading to TRUE Platinum certification: diverting a minimum of 90 percent of all waste from landfills and incineration during basketball games, concerts and events. The venue diverted more than 500,000 pounds. of waste during Hawks’ home games throughout the 2021-22 NBA Season. Lastly, the Hawks and venue worked closely with sustainability partner, Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, who provided guidance and operational knowledge to organize, sort and recycle aluminum and other materials.
“By pursuing zero waste, State Farm Arena and the Atlanta Hawks recognize the positive impacts of reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills helping us build a sustainable future,” said Peter Templeton, President and CEO of U.S. Green Building Council and GBCI. “Waste impacts all facets of business and changing the way that we use resources will deliver public health benefits, reduce our environmental impact and advance a greener economy. Sports leagues and teams reach large audiences and have the power to expose everyday audiences to sustainability strategies like zero waste.”
Assisting the Hawks and State Farm Arena in this achievement were local vendors such as CompostNow, who provides commercial composting solutions, and Haulin’ Glass Recycling, which provides glass recycling services. Venue partners such as Levy Restaurants, the official venue’s food and beverage partner, helped in the supply chain process, and Pritchard Sports & Entertainment, the venue’s official housekeeping partner, also assisted operationally with the collection and sorting of all materials. Other businesses who were integral in the effort include Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salvation Army, WestRock, Waste Management, SA Recycling, Lighting Resources LLC and Rubicon Global. In addition, the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) aided in creating various recycling solutions for State Farm Arena.
“Accomplishing this was only possible with an entire team effort,” said Geoffrey Stiles, Hawks’ Senior Vice President of Facilities and Events for State Farm Arena. “When we began our zero waste journey, we knew that the vision would take buy-in from everybody–our fans, partners and staff–night after night and event after event to make this happen. We are incredibly grateful to share this monumental achievement with them.”
Recycling can be labor-intensive, so part of the process was enlisting local organizations and volunteers, such as teachers from Atlanta Public Schools, employees from State Farm® and students from University of Georgia’s Department of Sustainability, who joined at various events as zero waste volunteers. In their roles, they aided guests at the venue in the process of properly sorting materials to reduce contamination.
“As a community asset, we know how important it is for us to practice what we preach when it comes to being a good corporate citizen,” said Sofi Armenakian, Director of Sustainability and Operations for the Hawks and State Farm Arena. “While this is a great accomplishment, we believe this is just the beginning of a forever journey. We know fans, artists and staff want to come to a venue that’s making a difference in the world and practicing sustainability at a high level.”
The Hawks and State Farm Arena continue to lead the way in sustainable practices for sports and live event venues. In Feb. 2022, State Farm Arena teamed up with Billie Eilish and Live Nation to produce the first zero-waste sold-out event on Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever, The World Tour”. In Jan. 2022, State Farm Arena announced that it diverted more than one million pounds of waste from landfills. In Nov. 2021, Novelis became the official aluminum recycling and proud sustainability partner on State Farm Arena. In June 2021, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body, announced that Game 4 of the Atlanta Hawks’ first-round playoff series last May against the New York Knicks earned TRUE Silver certification, marking the first time a sporting event has received the designation. The game was sold out with 16,458 fans in attendance. In June 2019, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced State Farm Arena, received the LEED Gold certification. At the time, then-USGBC and GBCI President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam presented Hawks and State Farm Arena CEO Steve Koonin with the designation plaque during the Greenbuild Atlanta Cultivation event at the venue.
Photo courtesy Atlanta Hawks.