Henk Markerink, CEO of the Johan Cruijff Arena, explains why venues must balance people, the planet and profit to create corporate value.
Businesses are increasingly expected to take into account elements that impact the economy, environment and society as a whole. These are essential factors that drive sustainability in business, and to reach this goal long-term planning and partnerships with innovative companies and the local community are essential.
The Johan Cruijff Arena realized this with the launch of the Amsterdam Innovation Arena, which sees the stadium and neighboring area function as a living lab for testing innovations with its partners. It innovates on six themes: fan experience; customer journey; safety and security; sustainability and circular economy; facility and asset management; and digital connectivity.
A major milestone was recently achieved with the activation of the largest European energy storage system using second-life and new electric vehicle batteries in a commercial building. By combining Eaton power conversion units, an energy management system from The Mobility House and the equivalent of 148 Nissan Leaf batteries, the 3MW battery system not only enables a more sustainable energy system but also creates a circular economy for electric vehicle batteries.
It provides a more reliable and efficient energy supply and use for the stadium, its visitors, neighbors and the Dutch energy grid. The battery is the missing link between the energy production from 75,000ft² (6,970m²) of solar panels on the roof and the stadium’s own windmills, and city heating, cooling and energy consumption.
As a result, the stadium will be able to use its own sustainable energy more intelligently and can trade the available storage capacity to contribute to a stable Dutch energy grid. The Arena aims to share its battery with neighboring venues and those living and working in Amsterdam Southeast, collaborating with Nissan, Eaton, BAM and The Mobility House in a project supported by the Amsterdam Climate and Energy Fund (ACEF) and Interreg.
For partners, the Arena battery has proved to be the perfect showcase of innovation and has led to increased numbers of business events and specialized tours of the multipurpose stadium. Thus, it has helped add value to the company, the neighboring area, the environment and Arena stakeholders. To keep evolving, be productive and inclusive as a society and as a company, investing in people is also essential.
Cities with greater living amenities have a direct impact on the happiness of inhabitants and their productivity. The Johan Cruijff Arena and the municipalities of Amsterdam and Warsaw, Poland, have, with the help of the UN, recently agreed to invest in urban liveability. The stadium and the surrounding area are becoming a testing ground with rapidly developing residential, retail, entertainment and leisure facilities merging into a mixed, diverse city. The Arena is also actively investing in educating and training both young and more experienced potential talent in-house. The balance of people, the planet and profit has to be part of any venue’s DNA and core values.
Much like the Johan Cruijff Arena, a venue can work on creating the best fan experience, offer visitors sustainable meal options and other top-level services, be a test lab for innovative solutions regarding safety and mobility for neighbors, and benefit partners – all at once. It’s truly worth the investment, as it creates sustainable value.