PROGRAM TITLED ‘SUSTAINABLE BRILLANCE & COMMUNITY RESILIENCE’
Marking two full years since opening, UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York, is embarking on a formal sustainability agenda titled “Sustainable Brilliance & Community Resilience,” a platform focused on sustainable operations and community enrichment.
The three pillars of the platform are titled “Nourishing Our Neighborhood,” “Protecting Our Planet” and “Inspiring Our Industry.” Initiatives and goals include to achieve zero landfill status by the end of 2023, fill venue jobs with local residents, donate to action-oriented organizations and activate at least $1 million of sponsorship dollars from brands related to sustainability solutions and community impact. The venue itself will be part of 15 related events, including a sustainability forum including community leaders scheduled for 2024.
The framework of the platform was formally announced early this afternoon at UBS Arena.
“It was a very positive first pass today,” said UBS Arena general manager Michael Sciortino, who was quick to note that the announcement is far from a “mission accomplished moment.” The press conference included local community leaders and politicians, which Sciortino said was important.
“From all of the officials who were there today, it was heartwarming to hear how supportive and appreciative they were. They basically all spoke about how A, how great this was and B, how it was a private business optionally holding a press conference to talk about these things we are doing that, by the way, cost us money but are for the greater good.”
UBS Arena, the 18,500-capacity home of the New York Islanders, was awarded LEED Green Building Certification in January 2023 and achieved carbon neutrality for operations in fall 2022. Sciortino says the arena has been operating at zero-waste for the past year, but needs a full 12 months of data before achieving TRUE zero waste certification, which will happen in February or March.
“It’s really a matter of just 12 months of data,” said. “I’m telling you, we’re there. The team’s really doing a great job and we’re proud of that program.”
The $1 billion venue was developed by Oak View Group, parent company to VenuesNow and Pollstar.
A sustainability forum is set to take place in 2024, including experts and officials from the Governor’s office, New York State Government, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, environmental conservation and sustainability groups, along with representatives from Oak View Group and UBS Arena. Panel topics will include transportation, renewable energy, zero waste, and local biodiversity.
“There are not many buildings that are really ready to talk about their sustainability goals publicly and latch on and go at it full force the way UBS arena team has,” added Kristen Fulmer, sustainability director for Oak View Group. “The fact that there is such an impactful and pretty ambitious set of sustainability goals shared publicly is exciting in and of itself because they don’t have to do it but they also didn’t have to do it as ambitiously as they’ve chosen to. There are a lot of goals that are not going to be easy, but are all pretty new to our industry. It’s a great way to set a leadership moment and then bring people along with us.”
Local leaders and politicians lent their support during the press conference.
“As a longtime resident of this area and a father of two young children, I am committed to doing all I can to protect the environment for future generations,” said District-3 Legislator Carrie Solages. “By applying LEED principles and embracing best practices in its operations, UBS Arena has become a model for the transit-oriented, sustainable entertainment venues of the future. I look forward to continuing my office’s work to deliver a state-of-the-art community center and other essential community resources for the benefit of the residents of Elmont and all who neighbor UBS Arena.”
“Setting and meeting sustainability goals is an extremely important exercise for facilities like UBS Arena,” added Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin. “The impressive objectives outlined in this plan will improve the quality of life for residents who not only live around the arena but also in other surrounding communities. From zero waste goals to lowering carbon emissions and working with brands focused on environmental solutions, we are proud to have a world-class, sustainable entertainment venue right here in the Town of Hempstead, and encourage businesses across the town to follow suit.”
Sciortino said announcing the platform publicly was a good way to engage with the community.
“We’ve done a lot, we’re still doing more, but we really needed to do a better job talking about it and making it easier to discuss with all the different people who interact with our arena,” Sciortino said. “There’s additional things we’re working on in early stages, late stages. This is going to be an ongoing effort for the lifetime of the arena. I’m looking forward to evolving the story as the community and different programs evolve. It’s also asking people to take the ride with us. Come look what we’ve done. Can you do this as well, or do this with us?”