Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena is a cutting-edge venue that takes its impact on the environment seriously. Boasting an ice surface created from rainwater, electric Zambonis, and a roof built from recycled materials, it has cut down significantly on direct emissions in its operations. It has even earned the distinction of being the world’s first “zero-carbon” certified arena.
However, this title has come with controversy, as the voluntary offset carbon credits used to offset the greenhouse gasses produced during its construction have caused skepticism among carbon experts. It is widely believed that carbon projects designed to prevent deforestation, such as the one linked to the arena, overstate their impact.
Amazon, the company behind the arena, has left third parties unconvinced its offsets genuinely live up to their billing on paper. The ongoing debate highlights the challenges of achieving true carbon zero and reducing carbon emissions in core business practices.
Carbon credits, often referred to as offsets, allow companies to market products as “carbon neutral.” The marketplace has come under increased scrutiny, with concerns that many projects overstate their impact. The prices of these offsets have sharply declined, pushing companies such as Amazon to seek to make the market more rigorous.
Climate Pledge Arena has gone to great lengths to work towards sustainability. It is designed with zero carbon emissions in mind and has developed strategies to counteract indirect emissions from its events. Even Amazon has taken a proactive role, purchasing renewable energy certificates and retirement of carbon credits derived from a nature-based offset project in Colombia.
While the project’s sustainability credentials are impressive, the reliability of its carbon credits has raised questions about its status as a truly zero-carbon building. It is a testament to the evolving landscape of environmental conservation, which leaves companies balancing flaws of voluntary carbon marketplaces.