Editorial Feature

Environmentally Friendly World Cup Venues and Sports Stadiums

Image Credits: Think Stock

With FIFA's biggest football tournament only one day away, people all over the world are getting "World Cup Fever". Teams from every continent battle each other to win this prestigious competition and fans everywhere dream of their nation being the envy of the world. Every four years there is also a major competition off-pitch between countries making their case for why they should host the next tournament.

It is no longer a simple case of which country will be the most passionate and create the best atmosphere, nations showing environmental awareness towards the construction of the many stadiums required for the tournament is now a huge factor in deciding who will be the host. Eco-friendly stadiums that would enhance both the player and spectator experience are being designed by building contractors and prospective host nations. Qatar, confirmed hosts of the World Cup 2022, are designing a stadium which is going to have a zero carbon footprint and is able to be cooled using solar power.

Lusail Iconic Stadium

The Lusail Iconic Stadium is a football stadium that has been designed for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup finals. The stadium will be surrounded by a moat and spectators will cross this using six bridges. An external perimeter concourse extends from the water towards an array of small amenity buildings and a hotel at the perimeter of the stadium. The stadium will be situated at the centre of a new development in North Doha.

The stadium has a highly progressive environmental strategy. Canopies of solar power shade the parking and service areas that produce energy for the stadium when in use and also helps generate power for nearby buildings. The Lusail stadium design will be a world-class football facility seating approximately 86,000 spectators and will be capable of performing in an extreme summer climate. The stadium will reflect the local culture and heritage and will be extremely energy efficient.

Harvesting Rainwater

The Gottlieb-Daimler stadium in Stuttgart, Germany is a highly sophisticated sports stadium and was one of the venues for the World Cup in 2006.

The stadium has a 350 m3 underground cistern in which rainwater from 14,000 m2 of space is collected and stored. The main use of the collected rainwater is watering of the grass area and rinsing of the toilets. The filtering of the rainwater is done without any external power source and without chemical treatment. The ARIS modular rainwater system includes a functional tank designed specifically for the building including a drinking water supply and pressure booster system.

Juventus Stadium

The Juventus Stadium was opened in 2011 and has since won several awards including the "Stadium Innovation Award" at the Global Sports Forum 2012 in Barcelona. It seats 41,000 spectators and has 60 executive boxes. It also has a 34,000 m2 retail space (which includes a DIY warehouse, a commercial centre and a retail shopping centre) and a 30,000 m2 urban park area.

One of the fundamental aims of the stadium project was to keep its environmental impact to a minimum. The stadium is built on the site of the team's former stadium, the Stadio delle Alpi and developers actually reused the reinforced concrete from the old venue to produce the foundations for the new stadium. Not only the concrete but also steel, copper and aluminum were recovered from the Stadio delle Alpi and used in the new project making savings of over one million Euros. The Juventus Stadium was also designed to reduce energy consumption and it uses a series of photovoltaic panels which generate the electricity required for the running of the stadium via solar energy.

Retractable Roofs

It is not just football venues that are adopting more sustainable architecture - Other stadiums which have been built with consideration of their environmental impact include the Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, which features a retractable roof that can close in 10 minutes. This is typically left open during gameplay allowing natural light in saving electricity used by lights. Unless there are hazardous conditions such as lightning or severe winds, the roof remains open.

The Cowboys Stadium has a retractable roof that is made of a translucent material that allows natural lighting even if it is closed. The stadium also uses retractable end zone doors to allow natural ventilation, 30 acres of structured grass, permeable pavement for absorption of rainwater run-off and recycles 90% waste material.

Solar Panels Added to Roof

Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners, incorporate solar panels into their roofs, the installation of which can give significant financial savings.

Along with 2,500 solar panels, the Lincoln Financial Field Stadium has 80 spiral shaped wind turbines and a cogeneration plant.

The cogeneration plant is a small dual-fuel power plant on-site. It is powered by natural gas and biodiesel. The energy plan will use technologically advanced solar panels and wind turbines, and so the stadium will be self sufficient.

The San Francisco 49ers will also have a new eco-friendly stadium by 2014 that will have solar panels in the roof.

Recycling Initiatives

350 recycling bins with a 94 gallon capacity are used by San Diego Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium in their tail-gating area. Gillette Stadium, belonging to the New England Patriots collects plastic bottles and cans in solar-powered compactors. Recycling bags are also handed out in the parking areas to spectators.

Apogee Stadium

The University of North Texas Apogee Stadium was awarded a LEED Platinum Certification by the United States Green Building Council making it the first newly constructed college football stadium to receive this honor.

The stadium construction was led by the UNT System, built by Manhattan Construction and designed by HKS Sports and Entertainment Group. The 31,000-seat Apogee Stadium features an amenity-filled club level, luxury suites, a Spirit Store, an innovative end-zone seating area and a corporate deck. The stadium also features three wind turbines that will feed the electrical grid powering the stadium.

Some eco-friendly features of the Apogee stadium are:

  • Over 50% of the stadium site is restored or preserved with landscaping native to the North Texas climate
  • The stadium has permeable pavers integrated with the native landscape minimizing rainwater runoff and reducing the heat island effect
  • According to estimations the three wind turbines will provide atleast half a million kilowatt hours of power each year for the UNT Eagle Point power grid effectively eliminating 323 mt of CO2 from being yearly emitted into the atmosphere. Details will be provided by a web-based monitoring system on carbon reduction statistics, energy production and empirical data that can be used for research and educational purposes
  • The stadium design uses energy-efficient ventilation, heating, lighting and air-conditioning equipment that reduce the energy consumption by 25%
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures such as toilets, showers, sinks will reduce water consumption by over 52%
  • 75% of the waste materials from the construction were recycled by the contractor of the stadium and prevented from dumping in a landfill
  • Of the materials and products used for stadium construction, 20% were made using recycled content and over 47% were manufactured locally
  • In order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions further high fly-ash percentages were used instead of cement to build the concrete sections of the project
  • Improvement of the indoor air quality was done using low VOC emitting materials such as paints adhesives, sealants, coatings and flooring


Football fans can rest assured that with the green revolution, football stadiums will grow more eco-friendly each year. Eco-friendly features are being incorporated in almost all newly built football stadiums. The majority of stadiums built in the future will likely be solar or wind powered, contain recycled and locally sourced building materials, use recycled plastic for the seats and employ a rainwater harvesting system.

Sources and Further Reading

Alessandro Pirolini

Written by

Alessandro Pirolini

Alessandro has a BEng (hons) in Material Science and Technology, specialising in Magnetic Materials, from the University of Birmingham. After graduating, he completed a brief spell working for an aerosol manufacturer and then pursued his love for skiing by becoming a Ski Rep in the Italian Dolomites for 5 months. Upon his return to the UK, Alessandro decided to use his knowledge of Material Science to secure a position within the Editorial Team at AZoNetwork. When not at work, Alessandro is often at Chill Factore, out on his road bike or watching Juventus win consecutive Italian league titles.


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