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Scottish Exhibition Centre’s (SEC) OVO Hydro (cap. 14,300) has become the first arena worldwide to be awarded A Greener Arena (AGA) status. The award was presented to the OVO Hydro team at today’s (29 March) Green Events and Innovations Conference, part of International Live Music Conference in London.

The AGA initiative is overseen by the A Greener Festival (AGF), a not-for-profit organisation that has been spearheading environmental measures at live events worldwide for the past 15 years. Among the festivals it works with are Glastonbury, Primavera Sound and Roskilde.

Among the scheme’s considerations are a venue operator’s holistic approach to sustainability, not only looking at emissions and environmental impacts but also people, inclusion and wellbeing.

Assessors highlighted the OVO Hydro’s commitment to reducing emissions, enhancing local biodiversity, and being an instrument of positive change on the arena tour circuit. They praised the venue’s use of 100% renewable electricity, elimination of single use plastic cups at live events saving 2m cups per year, campus-wide sustainable food strategy and expansion plans for electric vehicle charging points. The “outstanding” programme for inclusion, health and wellbeing for staff through the dedicated people department was also highlighted.

SEC said the venue’s naming rights partner, OVO Energy, supported the venue’s goal to achieve AGA certification through funding of specific carbon-reduction and environmental initiatives. As part of the assessment, AGF will also share actionable recommendations with the OVO Hydro team that are designed to further evolve the venue’s ongoing certification assessments in years to come.

SEC hosted the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference in November last year and announced a commitment to become a carbon net zero venue by 2030.

SEC director of Live Entertainment Debbie McWilliams told Access that the certification demonstrates SEC’s ambitious sustainability strategy: “It is significant achievement for the business and significant for all of our partners who have played a critical role in helping us achieve this, and also significant for Glasgow as a city because our net zero by 2030 target is a shared target with the city.

“Glasgow, and Scotland as a whole, is in a great position to achieve those targets; we all have a collective committed responsibility to actioning our sustainability strategy.”

She said the AGF’s arena scheme is vitally important as the venues play a fundamental role in the live events industry, and that the sector should thank the AGF team for its efforts in making the scheme available.

Asked about the next steps for the arena on its journey to net zero, McWIlliams said, “As part of this process we will receive a full report with recommendations from AGF and that will play a huge part in the next steps but there’s a huge focus on energy and there is lots of work going on in that area. We are exceptionally close to achieving some great things in that space.”

AGF co-founder Claire O’Neill said, “A Greener Festival was launched in 2007 and since then we’ve assessed over 1000 events, tours and venues across five continents, providing the first and only sustainable event certification including on site assessment of practical implementation and independent verification across 11 categories of event analysis, and the first dedicated arena certification. We’re delighted for the team at the OVO Hydro, and we hope that this leads the way for more arenas to get involved in the process.”

International venue management giant ASM Global recently announced that its entire portfolio of UK venues will undergo AGF‘s A Greener Arena certification.