How to Design a Sustainable Stadium

Arenas and stadiums are well-known disruptors of their environments. As giant organisms of concrete and steel, they absorb huge amounts of electricity to broadcast videos, light up their massive structures and use water to keep beers cold and available for flushing-fests during halftimes.

The Cube. Beijing, China.
Falcon’s Customers since 2008

Sustainability may have started just a buzzword, but in recent years it has shifted to become an expectation. Nowadays, clients, architects, and designers all agree that sustainability is a key issue for new sports venues.

However, sustainable architecture is more than the use of hand dryers instead towels or the use of latest environmental solar gadget on the roof, it is a holistic approach that requires the consideration of multiple factors throughout the project’s life, including the engagement of the local community. In other words, there is no “magical” trick to make an environmentally responsible venue, because anything could become a key sustainable factor.

Camp Nou. Barcelona, Spain.
Falcon’s Customers since 2006

Sustainable thinking starts from the first sketch, where architects and designers have to ask themselves—Are there any topographic elements that I should take into consideration? Is there a brown, dead grass field that we can clean up and reuse? What’s the climate of the region and how can I make it work for our project’s advantage? Where is the sun and how will it impact lighting?

After these considerations (and many more) are taken into account, site location and accessibility becomes a critical element in the sustainable design of the venue For example, is it in a suburban area, where will people be able to drive and park? Or can people arrive by public transportation, bicycle or foot?

Once proper location is determined, designers and architects can then turn their attention to the building structure itself.  Designing a green venue may also include decisions about passive cooling, the use of cement with low carbon content, photovoltaic panels on the roof or a system that recover rainwater for irrigation. Then, designers can decide on interior building sustainability initiatives, which can include the latest energy and water technological advances such as ultra-low flow water fixtures such as our hybrid technology or the use of recycled and renewable materials.

Last but not least, the contractor’s way to stage and build the building influence true sustainable stadiums and their environmental impact. For example, are construction workers bringing new concrete or are they being environmentally responsible and using recycled materials?

The secret of truly sustainable stadium is that the venue approaches environmental responsibility as an integral part of the design process, and not just as a layer.

The Nest. Beijing, China. Falcon’s Customers since 2008.

The results of embedding sustainable within the thinking of all systems can lead not only to visually impressive structures, but also can provide maximum returns on investments to the owner- not to mention the fact that the venue will serve as a long-lasting symbol to the local community of the effort and energy required to deliver the venue.