Climate Pledge Arena
Seattle, Washington, United States
Basketball, Concerts, Conferences & Expos, Hockey
Architecture, Brand Activation, Wayfinding, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Sustainability
CHALLENGE. Climate Pledge Arena is the result of a bold undertaking many believed would never materialize. When the City of Seattle set out to reimagine and redevelop the historic landmark originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, Populous flipped the traditional arena model on its head to create a first-of-its-kind arena.
Climate Pledge Arena is the region’s largest arena — an entirely new venue built under an existing roof — that revitalizes a historic landmark and cultivates the ultimate experience for fans of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, WNBA’s Seattle Storm, concerts and other events. With Amazon as the arena’s naming rights partner, Populous transformed its sustainable design approach to meet The Climate Pledge, a global initiative that commits signatories to net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040.
In 2023, Climate Pledge Arena was the first arena in the world to achieve Zero Carbon Certification from the International Living Future Institute (IFLI), a global nonprofit that uses strict, data-based standards to determine carbon neutrality. The ILFI certification process reviews 12 consecutive months of performance data to decide if a structure achieves net zero carbon emissions in its day-to-day operations and has offset the emissions from its construction period. The process to determine carbon neutrality is based on rigorous requirements set by the IFLI, which include sourcing 100% of the energy used in the arena from renewable energy avenues, utilizing zero combustible fuel types and reducing overall embodied carbon in the structure.
INNOVATION. Climate Pledge Arena is quite literally an arena in a park, something unheard of for a large public assembly venue, let alone one set in an urban neighborhood. The arena honors its original design intent while activating and enhancing a pedestrian-focused plan, giving the site back to the Seattle Center campus and serving as open public space for the neighboring community.
Populous has designed the most beautiful arena in the world, and the Kraken are proud to call it home. We’re excited for fans to walk into Climate Pledge Arena on game day and be blown away by its beauty and have a first-class experience while cheering on their favorite players.Tod Leiweke / CEO of the Seattle Kraken
The new construction required the 44-million-pound roof to be lifted and suspended above the site while another 680,000 cubic yards of soil were removed underneath to nearly double the size of the former venue and create 360-degree pedestrian access. The beautiful curtain walls of glass were also restored, making Climate Pledge Arena the first in North America where someone can walk entirely around the facility while never losing sight of what’s inside.
The new venue pushes the boundaries on other visual aspects as well. Unlike other arena video displays, Climate Pledge Arena boasts the world’s first dual suspended professional arena scoreboards. Behind this signature design lies a thorough analysis of on-ice and on-court action for hockey and basketball, spectator and athlete sightlines, and flexibility for shows and concerts. This placement bolsters the fan experience and connects the audience to the action of faceoffs, free throws and inbounding plays. There are 59 luxury suites, 19 of which are tunnel club suites situated under the seating bowl, giving fans a close-up view of the players as they walk from the locker room to the ice or court.
The arena is also designed to employ numerous sustainable practices and operations. The facility is powered solely on renewable energy sources, including on-site solar energy on the atrium roof. The site design builds strong connections with the monorail and provides space for electric vehicle charging stations and bike valet services. The design also supports water conservation systems — such as harvesting rainwater from the roof to turn it into the greenest ice in the NHL — and zero waste initiatives. The venue is home to a 200-foot living wall with greenery hanging overhead, an Amazon vision that Populous brought to life. The space also features an LED wall that details the importance of developing a zero carbon arena.
In addition to the electricity generated by the rooftop solar panels, Climate Pledge Arena and Amazon purchased and retired more than 100,000 megawatt hours of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), some of which are from Puget Sound Energy’s Lower Snake River wind farm. The arena has also pledged to be one of the first commercial customers for Seattle City Light’s Renewable Plus program, a program structured to provide renewable energy for the arena, which is projected to be available in 2025.
The arena goes beyond its actions to achieve carbon neutrality and employs sustainable practices in its client-facing operations, such as eliminating single-use plastics and offering free public transit with every game or event ticket.
IMPACT. Climate Pledge Arena is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most significant private investments in sports and entertainment history. The Populous design challenges the status quo to create a functional and iconic arena from the videoboards to the expansive, universally accessible outdoor plaza. It also contributes to a critical movement within the industry to transition the built environment from a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions to a central solution to the climate crisis. These sustainable design strategies and ambitious targets set a new bar for the global sports and events industry.
As the first arena to achieve Zero Carbon Certification, Climate Pledge Arena is sending a powerful message to the world: it is possible to create complicated, intricate, beautiful structures that are environmentally sustainable and contain every contemporary amenity. This achievement aligns with Populous’ commitment to delivery zero carbon projects by 2030.
Facts and Figures
- Hockey game capacity
- Basketball game capacity
- Concert capacity
- Square feet
- Preserved roofing material conserved
- 22,000 tons
- London Plane legacy trees preserved
- Earth excavated to be reused in nearby communities
- 975,000 tons
- Engineering News Record: Best of the Best Projects – Sports/Entertainment
- Washington State Historic Preservation Office Awards: Outstanding Sustainable Rehabilitation
- American Institute of Graphic Arts: Environmental/Experiential Design Awards
- Sports Business Journal: Sports Facility of the Year
- VenuesNow All-Stars: Venues and Innovation