In celebration of Green Month, we chatted with Climate Pledge Arena Manager of Transportation and Sustainability, Brianna Treat.
By: Hannah Taheri
How does Climate Pledge Arena plan to maintain its title of “world’s most sustainable arena?” By continuing to build the best sustainability team in the industry, of course. And with the addition of arena Manager of Transportation and Sustainability, Brianna Treat, we are certainly doing just that.
An outdoor enthusiast, proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, dog-lover, and passionate environmentalist, Treat joined the team in November, 2021. She was bitten by the sustainability bug at a young age, noting that her deep appreciation for the natural world stems from her parents’ green thumbs.
The University of Oklahoma graduate’s wide background in the sustainability industry includes everything from city recycling coordination to professionally certifying the first-ever zero-waste NBA game. In her newest role as Climate Pledge Arena’s resident Lorax, her duties include tracking on-site operational carbon and energy consumption, implementing waste and water reduction strategies, and helping phase out all single-use plastic, all whilst supporting our organization’s commitment to The Climate Pledge.
In honor of Green Month, Brianna ‘Treat’ed us to a sit-down to share how fans can help us reach our green goals, common sustainability myths, her hopes for the future, and more.
We recently achieved zero-waste at both Billie Eilish concerts under our roof. Can you explain what this means and how we managed to get there together?
Achieving zero-waste for any event means that at least 90% of all materials generated for that event are to be diverted from a landfill. Achieving anything above 90% is considered zero-waste in the industry.
Billie Eilish, a prominent supporter of sustainability, has been outspoken about climate change since early in her career. We knew that these back-to-back shows were an opportunity for us to push our limits and show our fans that we are more than just goal-setters.
With the help of our housekeeping team sorting each bag of waste as it hit our sustainability room, we successfully diverted 96% of all waste generated at both shows. With a combined total of over 26,000 fans in attendance, we recycled and composted over nearly 12,000 pounds of materials. No other arena in the world has achieved numbers like that. It only further highlights how arenas can be pillars of strength and change how entertainment and sustainability are truly interconnected.
What goals are you most excited to accomplish in this position (ie. specific goals, projects, etc.)
One I am most excited about is assisting in meeting our ambitious goal of reaching a 97% diversion rate and providing all the necessary data to achieve our Zero-Carbon Certification through the International Living Future Institute.
Every day that I’m on-site at the arena, I am in the Sustainability Room monitoring our successes and where we can do better with waste. It has truly been amazing to watch these projects transform as the arena has kicked into full gear since opening day.
I hope to continue to learn and teach others about our sustainability initiatives on-site so that other venues and industries can utilize us as a mold for creating change.
Having worked in this field in a few different cities, how do you feel Seattle ranks when it comes to public transportation options?
The reliability of Seattle’s public transit system is uncanny compared to the other cities I have lived in. Born and raised in Oklahoma, I can honestly say it amazes me that I can take public transit to work every single day. And since transportation is WA’s #1 source of carbon emissions, taking transit is one of the best ways to reduce your environmental footprint.
Other cities I have lived and worked in have had public transportation options, but none that ever seemed to fit my needs. Living in Seattle, my car is always my last resort because I know I can rely on the infrastructure we have in place to do just about any activity without my car.
When fans come to games and events at the arena, what is ONE thing you think we can get better at together in terms of lightening their environmental impact?
Education. You can’t fix what you don’t know. Most fans I have spoken to just don’t understand how they can contribute to our goals or help mitigate climate change. What we can do is educate ourselves and our fans on how we can all work together to reduce our collective carbon footprint.
One way we are exercising this practice is by offering Kraken and Storm fans free public transit passes as a part of their game day ticket. Not only is this promoting public transit—a cleaner way to travel than a single-use vehicle—but it’s also lowering our carbon footprint as we track all fan travel to the arena on event nights.
Can you share one arena sustainability/transportation stat with us that you’re especially proud of thus far?
In addition to achieving zero-waste at Billie Eilish, our overall arena diversion rate has increased 40% since my first month on the job just five months ago.
The success of our waste streams has really solidified our momentum and commitment to operating as a zero-waste arena. I could not be prouder of our organization.
What is a common sustainability or transportation myth that you can debunk for us?
Many people think if you throw items into the recycling bin, they will magically be recycled into useable items. Only items that have been verified by your city can be placed into your residential recycling bin. ‘Wishcycling’ often results in waste-contamination that then results in more than just that one item being sent to a landfill.
Each city has its own rules when it comes to recycling, so it’s important that you check your city’s guidelines. Before Seattle, I lived in Tulsa, Baltimore, and Dallas. Seattle is the first city I’ve ever lived in that offers residential composting. Most cities now offer a recycling app where you can type in items and the app will tell you exactly how to dispose or recycle that item. Recycling is easy as long as you think before you throw and do your homework on the products you purchase.
Any advice for people hoping to get into the sustainability industry on a larger scale like yourself?
Hard work and failure pay off. It took me many fails in my career to understand where I could make the most impact. Never take a job that uses sustainability to check a box—it will never be as fulfilling as it is to create impactful change that you can feel and see.
Take as many leaps as you can. Throughout my career I have worked all types of jobs to understand the interconnectedness that is sustainability. Each of these pieces of my past experience have now led me to my dream job as Manager of Transportation and Sustainability at the most sustainable venue in the world. I couldn’t be happier that it took me this long to get here.