Today the eyes of the world are on Glasgow. More specifically on the Scottish Event Campus (SEC). Lights, camera, action. And talking of action, it's interesting to learn of the sustainability ambitions for the SEC itself – some of which are much more broadly relatable. This is heartening in the context of the ongoing climate change discussions.

What are those ambitions?

Glasgow City Council has announced a portfolio of "greenprint" investment projects. These are to play a key role in the drive for net zero. The portfolio includes the SEC expansion project. This aims to turn the SEC - in 2019 the second busiest venue behind Madison Square Garden (a fantastic fact) - into one the world's most sustainable campuses. How will this be done?

The strategy for boosting the SEC expansion project's sustainability credentials will include EV charging points, an ambient temperature heat network, battery storage, ground storage of heat, a micro-grid system, and connections to the external grid that will enable energy to be exported from and imported to the site. It's all great stuff. It makes us think – what else might be done at venues here and elsewhere?

Recently Coldplay announced plans for their 2022 world tour. They're aiming for a net zero carbon footprint. The band issued a set of pledges and initiatives. These include installing kinetic floors around venues - generating energy from movement - and portable solar panels. Fans will be encouraged to ride electricity-generating bikes located at venues. Discounts will be offered to fans who travel to concerts sustainably. Carbon neutrality seems likely to become the expected norm in touring. How might venues – including the SEC – increase their sustainability?

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to making a venue sustainable. Every venue is different. Factors such as location come into play. But how about the following?:

  • install solar panels on the famous Hydro exterior;
  • construct a hydro scheme on the Clyde feeding the SEC campus with renewable energy power;
  • introduce biodegradable packaging to venues as the norm and commit to eliminating single-use plastic;
  • take advantage of Glasgow's rainfall and install rainwater collection systems that can be filtered and reused;
  • facilitate and encourage recycling, and compost waste;
  • commit to selling food and drink that is locally sourced, seasonal and grown using sustainable methods;
  • re-purpose food waste through anaerobic digestion;
  • install energy-producing turnstiles and walkways;
  • create a sustainable transport only zone and bring in a fleet of electric shuttle buses à la Disneyland or river ferries à la London and NY and Paris; and
  • build a hyperloop with the city centre...

Not for nothing is it said that necessity is the mother of invention.

With the urgency of the global climate crisis, no doubt we will increasingly see climate change pledges and innovative steps being taken to achieve sustainability. Small steps like eliminating single-use plastic, through to large steps such as redesigning major infrastructure to readdress energy needs, all add up. We need ambitious and progressive plans. And with all of this comes opportunity.

The appetite – and the need - to make more sustainable decisions is certainly here. Planning permission in principle has been granted for the SEC Expansion project and the opportunity to 'incorporate an exciting energy solution for the campus' is progressing to the feasibility stage, so watch this space.


Claire Reid