Since the Green Sports Alliance’s inception in 2010, the number
of teams, leagues, and sports organizations invested in its
mission and vision have grown exponentially towards advancing
the sports greening movement.
“Our partners see the intrinsic value the sports industry holds
and are excited to lead positive change alongside the Green
Sports Alliance towards healthier and more sustainable
communities,” says Roger McClendon, executive director of the
Green Sports Alliance.
“Recognition and visibility drive many of our members to
pursue certification of venues and buildings, both new and
existing. But we have seen a significant shift in fans calling upon
businesses and sports organizations to have a stronger
commitment to their social responsibility efforts. Patrons see
value in not just efficient event operations but also in having a
more open equity and diversity footprint.”
gradually work with the facilities teams to make
upgrades to lighting, plumbing, and mechanics.
Gradually chipping away at the iceberg works best
for most older venues,” Aye explains.
In working with facilities teams, Aye considers
issues such as the best location for a central energy
plant, the optimal placing of kitchen exhausts and
the installation of displacement ventilation under seats.
Small decisions, such as the selection of hand dryers,
can have unexpectedly large benefits. Excel hand
dryers, for example, have been installed at the 65,000-
seat Gillette Stadium, home to the NFL’s New England
Patriots in Massachusetts, which was using 6 million
paper towels a year. According to a peer-reviewed lifecycle
assessment from Excel, the mechanical hand
dryers reduce carbon footprints by 75% compared
with paper towels. The surprisingly high carbon cost
of paper towels comes from cutting down trees,
transportation and the manufacturing process.
Biodiversity is a less well-publicized aspect of the
sustainability agenda. Mostly, stadia have a minimal
impact on ecology, but there are exceptions. The
International Olympic Committee is particularly
careful when planning for Games that require multiple
new stadia built across large areas of land. The IOC’s
report on Sport and Biodiversity highlights how a
colony of green and golden bell frogs was discovered
within the proposed site of the Sydney 2000 Olympics
tennis venue. The IOC spent US$700,00 to protect
the threatened species, including building a suitable
habitat. Similarly, the development of the London
Olympic Park in 2012 was designed to support the
regeneration of a run-down part of east London,
as well as improving the ecology of the Lea Valley.
Innovative solutions included creating habitats for bird
and bat species on bridges within the park.
The glare of publicity surrounding the London
Olympics undoubtedly served to improve awareness
of biodiversity and salient sustainability issues. The
attention sports stadia receive, particularly the grand
and iconic ones, are ideal for conveying important
ecological messages to the wider public. The Atlanta
Falcon’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which showcases
an incredible array of innovation and technology for
reducing emissions and conserving energy is such
a venue. As the first professional sports stadium to
earn LEED Platinum certification, the MBS has more
than 4,000 solar panels and an enormous cistern at
street level capable of collecting up to 680,000 gallons
of stormwater to be repurposed within the venue.
In Europe, the Johan Cruijff Arena, home to soccer
club Ajax FC and the Dutch national team, adopts
similar strategies and plays a similar role as it aims
to be the world’s most sustainable stadium by 2020.
The arena is carbon neutral with 4,200 solar panels,
wind turbines, rain-water harvesting used to irrigate
the grass pitch, energy-generating escalators, and a
3-megawatt storage battery made from recycled car
batteries. “Sport is such a powerful an influence
on the public, especially amazing venues such as the
Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Johan Cruijff Arena.
When integrated into city centres, they can become
hubs of sustainability,” adds Aye. n
In the push for sustainability, sports stadia and the automotive
industry sounds like an unlikely pairing, however the initiative
to re-use old battery packs from electric vehicles is giving venues
a new energy solution. The Johan Cruijff Arena revolutionized this
approach when it installed 148 old Nissan electric vehicles and
repurposed them as Europe’s largest energy storage system.
Harvesting energy from its solar panel system and off-site windpowered
turbine, it uses Eaton power conversion units to create
the arena’s own energy supply that it can use during gamedays
to alleviate pressure from the national grid, remove itself from
the reliance on fossil fuels, as well as ensure power is available
in the event of a blackout.
38 www.stadia-magazine.com June 2019