2022 VenuesNow All-Stars: Sofi Armenakian
Head of Sustainability | Atlanta Hawks / State Farm Arena
Sofi Armenakian is proud of her efforts as one of sports’ first heads of sustainability. More people are attending live events and, from a sustainability standpoint, “everyone has a huge responsibility and opportunity to play green beyond the stage and off the court/field,” said Armenakian, who leads the charge for the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena.
“Through our forever journey, we are impacting future generations so they can one day come to our venue to enjoy live entertainment and sports.” In April, State Farm Arena became the world’s first sports and entertainment venue to earn TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency) Platinum certification for zero waste, as certified by the Green Business Certification Inc.
The journey to zero waste is a key pillar and how the organization measures success.
“For us, specifically, it is a great time as our stars are aligning. More and more artists are taking a stand and requiring venues to play green for their shows, and we continue to step up and over-deliver,” she said. “Every interaction at our Atlanta Hawks games or live shows with fans around sustainability is a seed planted.” She said it’s been “remarkable” to build a sustainability department and admits her department has a long way to go as they try to create solutions that are applicable to other teams and venues.
“As we look ahead, we understand that momentum is so important, and we must continue to break the traditional way of thinking and re-create habits,” she said. “Equally important is how we talk about sustainability.
For example, we do not call things the ‘trash room’ or ‘trash team,’ but we call it the Zero Waste ‘R3’ aka Resource Recovery Room where our zero waste squad works.” She said it’s important to educate guests as the greater movement toward sustainability continues to gain wider industry significance. “Some of the challenges include figuring out how to engage with fans and guests to reduce contamination as well as identifying more solutions through automation,” she said. “Contamination is a global opportunity to solve and we’re doing our part for our community in our green bubble and continuing to collaborate with partners to help raise standards around sustainable infrastructure and standards.”