Innovator Spotlight



John Marler

VP, Energy & Environment
AEG Worldwide

2018 Energy Manager Today Person of the Year

John Marler is on a mission to educate the world about environmental sustainability, and he’s using AEG’s global stages to spread the word. Millions of people attend their favorite festivals, concerts and tournaments each year at AEG facilities, but he doesn’t just see sports fans or music lovers. Each crowd offers Marler an opportunity to teach millions — through each guest and their personal network — how to go green.

Sparkfund: Explain your role at AEG.

John Marler: I run two programs, AEG 1EARTH and AEG Energy Services. Through these programs, we try to minimize our impact on the environment, lower our utility costs, mitigate risks and engage with our customers and the public on issues relating to environmental sustainability.

Why are sustainability efforts important in the entertainment industry?

I think sustainability is important for all industries! With regard to sports and entertainment, we have over 100 million guests that come to our events every year worldwide. To me, we have a great opportunity to communicate and engage with our customers on these issues. That way, we can influence change well beyond the boundaries of our facilities.  

What are some examples of the events industry’s influence on environmental sustainability?

I think sustainability has always been in the background on the sports and the music side. But over the years, I’ve noticed that the two industries and their fans approach things differently.

In the sports industry, now we’re seeing that almost all new sports facilities built today are LEED certified or have LEED principles in the design. Most of the major U.S. sports leagues have environmental programs, like the National Hockey League’s NHL Green program. The Green Sport Alliance started up in 2011; AEG was a founding partner along with many other teams, leagues and venues. I can cite many examples of athletes raising environmental concerns, like 2016 Rio Olympians speaking up about ocean waste. The sports community has done a great job of making that personal connection.

On the music side, maybe that physical connection isn’t as obvious. But there’s a long history of musicians embracing social causes, so their strength is in their platform and the megaphone they have to raise awareness.

How can companies focused on growth, such as AEG, meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals?

We have adopted a science-based target for our GHG emissions. Our goal is an absolute metric, as opposed to an intensity-based metric. The challenge with this approach is that if you have a building that’s working as efficiently as it can, and then you host 50 percent more events in that building, you’re going to increase the overall energy consumption, despite being efficient.

What we found is that you can't do it just by efficiency alone if you’re a growth company. We are also looking at increasing our renewable energy procurement and sourcing carbon offsets to help us meet our GHG goals.

What's a best practice that a small entertainment company without a sustainability team can implement tomorrow?

The longer I do this job, the more I’m convinced that it’s all about communicating what you’re doing and what your values are. On their website, with venue signage, on their social media accounts — those are the places companies should be constantly and visibly communicating what they’re doing. I think sustainability is still out of the mainstream, so you have to make sure people are aware.

We’re seeing that it’s not enough if only a handful of people are trying to do it. It has to be adopted by the vast majority of people for these things to really become successful. All of the tech is important, but we need that human element.  

Editor's Note: AEG has no business relationship with Sparkfund or its affiliates.