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Interview

OVO Arena Wembley leads the way in ASM Global’s sustainability drive

Images: ASM Global/Luke Dyson

Despite opening in 1934, London’s OVO Arena Wembley is seeking to get ahead of the curve in terms of venue sustainability.

The ASM Global-operated venue formerly known as SSE Arena, Wembley underwent a rebrand in February after OVO acquired SSE Energy Services.

As part of the agreement, OVO is supporting ASM Global on its journey to achieve A Greener Arena certification. OVO also sponsors Glasgow’s OVO Hydro, which in April became the first arena in the world to achieve A Greener Arena certification for its commitment to sustainability.

OVO Arena Wembley is now in the process of receiving the certification, along with other UK-based ASM Global venues such as Manchester’s AO Arena, Leeds’ First Direct Arena, Newcastle’s Utilita Arena and P&J Live in Aberdeen.

A Greener Arena is awarded by A Greener Festival (AGF), a not-for-profit company committed to helping events, festivals and venues around the world, including Glastonbury, Primavera Sound and Roskilde, to reduce their environmental impact.

For OVO Arena Wembley, the venue’s sponsor plays a key role in supporting its sustainability efforts.

“The company, previously as SSE and now with OVO, has been an important supporter of the venue for a number of years now,” says Marie Lindqvist, senior vice-president of operations for ASM Global in Europe.

“Not only through their financial contribution but also in their willingness and drive to work with the arena team to achieve our shared goals of delivering the best, and greenest, ‘live’ experience possible while being committed to continuous improvement in this area.”

Lindqvist adds: “The arena supports OVO Energy’s commitment to becoming a net-zero business by 2030 and driving progress towards zero-carbon living. Having shared values with our sponsor, who believes in the importance of making our venues greener, is a huge advantage.

“This, as well as having OVO so closely involved in current and new initiatives at the venue, not only helps us deepen our understanding, but also engage further with our audience in new and innovative ways.

“Of course, the more work and research that is done, the more we’ll be able to continue to share and broaden sustainability practices across the venue and the rest of our estate, which makes the future very exciting indeed.”

OVO Arena Wembley was recently acquired by fund manager Intermediate Capital Group. ASM Global has recognised the need for adaptation at a venue that, having been built almost 90 years ago, is among the oldest in its worldwide portfolio.

Primarily a music venue, the 12,500-capacity arena also hosts sporting events and was used to stage badminton and gymnastics competitions during the London 2012 Olympics.

“We’re really proud of the sustainability measures which have successfully been rolled out at the OVO Arena Wembley,” says Lindqvist. “Essentially, unless it’s entirely necessary to build a completely new venue, we explore all avenues to future-proof existing structures instead – this actually has a much more positive environmental impact.

“We’ve worked hard to reduce the venue’s carbon footprint, and to preserve and uphold the valuable cultural heritage of the venue which has many times paid back the embodied carbon in its build emissions, all while implementing the latest in sustainability strategies.”

Looking ahead, Lindqvist says ASM Global will be searching for “new and innovative ways” to develop and build on its sustainability measures. The company’s sustainable strategies are backed and bolstered by ASM Global Acts, a social responsibility platform that launched in October 2021.

ASM Global Acts pledges the company’s commitment to protecting the environment and is an extension of its long-standing 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 programmes are activated at a corporate and local level and are designed to create value at scale within communities.

Perhaps most importantly, guests have reacted positively to ASM Global’s sustainability initiatives, which gives Lindqvist the confidence to continue striving for greener arenas.

“We’re delighted with the guest response,” she says. “We feel very fortunate that guests across all venues share our passion for the environment, so it’s been great to see how they have worked with us, taking on board our new measures and initiatives, and it certainly gives us further motivation as a business to strive to do more.”