FOLLOW LEED: UBS Arena’s sustainability initiatives, such as conserving energy and water, earned the venue LEED certification. (Photo by Dennis DaSilva)
UBS Arena in Elmont, New York, has earned the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification, a status given by the U.S. Green Building Council to structures that help address climate change and improve human health by lowering carbon emissions, reducing waste, and conserving energy and water. The 18,500-capacity home of the NHL Islanders joins a select number of entertainment venues in the country to achieve such certification.
“The credit goes to the ownership group who made the commitment, and in many ways the financial commitment, to make the changes and do the things to achieve LEED certification,” Michael Sciortino, general manager of UBS Arena, tells VenuesNow. “In many ways, this certification was achieved long before we opened. Kudos to the construction team and design team as well.”
The NHL arena, owned by the New York Islanders, Oak View Group and Sterling Equities, also achieved carbon neutrality for operations last fall, making it the first structure of its kind to do so on the East Coast, and Sciortino expects to accomplish that again for all of 2023.
“We will achieve zero waste by the end of this year, which is not easy. It’s a full team effort,” Sciortino says.
Though much of the effort into achieving carbon neutrality goes into design and construction, it is sustained by the day-to-day operations, such as turning off the LED lighting when not in use, water conservation by using low flow plumbing and offering waste streams of recycling and composting. With the arena being part of the founding circle of OVG’s GOAL (Green Operations and Advanced Leadership) platform, Sciortino and his staff have a roadmap to achieve the goal of zero waste and inspire change in the people who step foot into the arena.
“There’s still much to explore and much more on the whiteboard of areas we can go, but that’s the stuff we are working on now that’s going to keep us very busy,” Sciortino says. “There are enough venues that push some of these initiatives and have some level of LEED certification, but as a whole, it’s a very, very small percentage, and we’re proud to be in that small percentage.
“And the best part about this is leading by example and the millions of people who come through here and see us and hopefully mimic that in their own home or professional environment.”
Those who have visited the arena contributed to its early success in reducing carbon emissions and waste by taking advantage of the new Long Island Rail Road Elmont-UBS Arena Station, the railroad’s first new station in 50 years. Oak View Group, which owns VenuesNow and Pollstar, and the rest of the ownership group contributed $100 million to the station, will soon have 24-hour service, meaning people can show up without looking at the schedule and expect a train stop every half hour or so.
“When you talk about investment in leading by example, there’s no bigger investment than that train station,” Sciortino says. “It’s been a game changer for us. We did not have full service at that station when we first opened; we do now.
“It’s so easy to get here without having to get into your car and drive, and we encourage that,” Sciortino adds. “That brand new beautiful station is the epitome of that and a huge part of what we do here.”
Another game changer for Sciortino that didn’t have to do with helping the environment was successfully hosting a Harry Styles concert 20 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The pop superstar returned to the arena five months later, with fans camping outside days early to score exclusive merchandise, a move signaling bigger and better things are coming to UBS Arena.
“Just to have such a big, exciting show that activates the whole building, every nook and cranny in the building, was a great milestone, a great end of the first season open,” Sciortino says. “I just felt our operation had come a very long way and robust and more mature, and I felt very good about our prospects moving forward and our ability to deliver events.
“We had the ability to really do anything here, and I believe that we will. And you’ll see; we will do everything here.”