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Sustainable football stadiums: How football grounds are going green

It seems the whole world is behind the effort to make sure everything we do is sustainable for future generations. Every bit of energy we use is being accounted for, even more so after experiencing the energy crisis over the last year.

Football is no different, and football stadiums have now started to join the battle becoming self-sufficient, with some even going ‘fully green'. Sceptics will say it is just a ploy to keep on the good side of the public, with some being dismayed by the amounts of money being spent in the modern game.

That being said, any move to having sustainable football stadiums is a good one, no matter what the motive is for the clubs. Here are a few of the stadiums around the world that have already started going green.

Sustainable football stadiums

Amsterdam Arena – Ajax (Netherlands)

The Amsterdam Arena - home of Ajax FC - is one of the sustainable football stadiums
Photo by Icon Sport

The Netherlands is known for its windmills, but that's not what powers the Amsterdam Arena; a modern wind turbine and 4,200 solar panels does the job.

Not only that, but the stadium also has installed an energy storage system that is powered by second-hand batteries from used electric cars. This xStorage system doesn't just power the stadium but generates power for nearby neighborhoods as well.

Other energy-saving moves made by the club are the use of rainwater that is collected from the stadium rooftop and used to water the grass on the pitch. Residual heat is also used to make sure frost is not an issue during the winter months, meaning no additional energy is used.

The club also offers discounts on train tickets to matchgoers while encouraging the use of electric cars by having charging ports in the stadium car park

Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atalanta United (USA)

The Atlanta United is a sustainable football stadiums
Photo by John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA/Icon Sport

MLS club Atlanta United plays at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, one which prides itself on its sustainability and low energy usage. The stadium uses 29% less energy than most other stadiums worldwide.

How does it do this? It uses LED lighting and has 4,000 rooftop solar panels. They are involved in numerous renewable energy projects, making it one of the leading stadiums in the effort to become greener.

Sports fans who attend the stadium are encouraged to either walk there or cycle while charging ports for electric cars are also available at the stadium.

The New Lawn – Forest Green Rovers (England)

Forest Green Rovers are leaders in football sustainability
Photo by Icon Sport

Forest Green Rovers are well-known in the footballing world for their green innovations, supporting projects such as vegan-based food on matchdays, removing red meat from the menu. Even their name would suggest that they are an eco-friendly club! The New Lawn stadium is one of the most energy-sufficient stadiums in the country.

While the stadium was not always like this, it underwent a huge refit of eco-technology and now 10% of the electricity usage comes from its 180 solar panels.

It also has the weird but proud achievement of being the first British football club to have used a robot lawn mower, while also using rainwater that it collects from under the pitch for irrigation.

Forest Green Rovers are moving into a new eco-friendly stadium. Read more about it here.

The Princes Park Stadium – Dartford FC (England)

Staying in England we visit another of the most eco-friendly stadiums in the country. The Princes Park Stadium, used by lower league side Dartford FC, which is located in Kent, is a stadium that looks like a garden centre.

The roof on the stadium is known as a ‘living roof' with a filtration system and solar panels installed. Rainwater is also collected and stored in lakes and used to water the pitch all year round. It is recognised as the UK's first sustainable purpose-built small stadium and it only cost £6.5 million to build.

Maracana – Fluminense FC (Brazil)

Maracana Stadium is an eco-friendly stadium
Photo by Icon Sport

The Maracana in Brazil is a well-known stadium in regards to its brilliant samba-style atmosphere, but it is also very eco-friendly. This is because FIFA used it as an experiment to show what a huge stadium would look like if it were to go green, installing 1,500 solar panels and a rainwater pitch irrigation system.

One weird fact about the Maracana is the urinals in the bathroom only pump as much water as they are supposed to base on the number of people that have entered the stadium. The new eco-friendly technology that was installed cost $390 million.

Throughout the world, football clubs are trying to progress in the way their stadiums use energy and thinking of new ways they can save on usage, whilst making sustainable football stadiums. Projects in places like China, Saudi Arabia, and the US are underway to install new technology into stadiums as we speak. Will Premier League clubs follow suit and become more eco-friendly in the future? Let's hope so.

Philip O'Rourke

Philip O Rourke is a Dublin-based journalist and author of Forgotten Football Clubs, 50 Clubs Around the World. He appears on the Forgotten Football Clubs podcast and, in his spare time, travels around Europe to different football stadiums, trying to watch as many different clubs as he can.

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