Energy Management: A Perspective from Sports and Entertainment
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Energy Management: A Perspective from Sports and Entertainment

John Marler, Vice President, Energy and Environment, AEG

John Marler, Vice President, Energy and Environment, AEG

Live sporting events or concerts are probably not the first things that come to mind when someone thinks of energy management. But as the energy management leads for AEG, the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, I can attest that energy management is essential to our ability to deliver safe, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible experiences for our customers.

Together, energy and utilities are AEG’s second-highest operating expense. With increasing regulatory compliance requirements each year and our company’s adoption of science-based goals for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, energy management is an essential strategic and tactical tool for our business.

"Energy management is also now inextricably linked to environmental sustainability initiatives. In addition to cost and risk, environmental considerations must be accounted for in every energy management decision"

Sports and entertainment venues have unique operating requirements. On “dark days,” when there’s no event in the building, non-essential loads are powered down, saving energy and money. However, during events, energy usage spikes dramatically to meet demand. Events are almost always in the evening, coinciding with local utility peaks. As a result, most of these venues pay higher-than-average utility rates because a larger portion of their utility bills is made up of demand charges.

To ensure efficiency, we use energy management to manage our costs and risk exposure at the utility meter level up to the portfolio level. Data collection starts with monthly utility bills; we work with a trusted utility bill management partner that ensures our utility invoices are paid on time, and the relevant data are uploaded into a central database for our analysis.

We use this database for several purposes. First is monitoring usage patterns to detect anomalies, which can evidence an operational malfunction that needs to be corrected. Second, utility cost and usage data, combined with interval data from utility meters and/or building management systems can help identify opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades and can support the creation of business cases to secure funding for such projects. Finally, the database allows us to be fully compliant with local regulatory programs requiring businesses to disclose their energy usage publicly.

Additionally, customer safety at our events is paramount, and good energy management is essential to ensuring customer safety. With increasing threats of utility outages, like the recent fire-related blackouts in California, it’s critical to maintain backup power resources for emergency systems and operational redundancy. At our music festivals, energy management helps us to manage fuel supplies in a safe and compliant manner.

Energy management is also now inextricably linked to environmental sustainability initiatives. In addition to cost and risk, environmental considerations must be accounted for in every energy management decision. It is everyone’s responsibility to manage their carbon footprint, but businesses must be in a position, through their energy management program, to optimally manage their carbon reduction strategy.

Fortunately, great strides have been made in areas such as lighting and controls. I am also excited that pricing for on-and off-site renewables and now battery storage has fallen so quickly. These technologies are powerful tools for energy managers because they offer the potential for lower prices and less price volatility – with a low- or zero-carbon footprint. That’s progress.

Looking ahead, I see continued growth in energy management as a field. Effective energy management can mean the difference between industry leadership or stagnation and possibly failure. The companies and agencies that see this and implement energy management across their operations will genuinely have an advantage today and into the future.

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