Sports stadiums go green: from Croke Park to Minnesota Twins

19 Sep 2011

Minnesota Twins' new target field, which is using rainwater harvesting to help the stadium reduce its water footprint

Since the baseball stadium of the Minnesota Twins set a new standard in 2010 when it opened its new target field using a rainwater recycling system to meet 50pc of its water needs, what have other stadiums around the globe been doing to keep apace with the green drive?

Here in Ireland, for instance, Dublin’s Croke Park – which yesterday played host to the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final between Dublin and Kerry, a nail-biting match that saw Dublin ultimately snatch the Sam Maguire Cup – has been really upping its sustainability game.

Back in 2010, Croke Park gained the BS 8901:2009 certification, which it said made it the world’s first stadium to receive this award for sustainable events.

In 2008, Croke Park also launched its the Cúl Green initiative to set ambitious targets to help it reduce its carbon footprint and become a carbon-neutral stadium. Between 2007 and 2009, the stadium reduced its electricity consumption by 28pc. It has also opened recycling and composting facilities across the site – reducing waste to landfill by 53pc. Meanwhile, all of Croke Park’s stadium’s electricity is sourced from a wind farm in Ireland.

Croke Park

Croke Park Stadium in Dublin, home to the GAA

Water conservation strategies for sports stadiums

Back to Minnesota, where the Minnesota Twins’ new US$425m, 40,000-seat Target Field collects and purifies rainwater from the ballpark’s seven-acre grounds, including its stands. The stadium then stores the rainwater in a cistern that is placed deep in the ground. The resulting water is then used to wash down the stands and to irrigate the playing field. Minnesota tech company Pentair designed the rainwater harvesting system.

At the time of the rainwater announcement, Twins president Dave St. Peter said the scheme would help tackle water scarcity.

“Clean water and conservation are worldwide issues, but that being said, I believe that they hit closer to home in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

Aviva Stadium Dublin

The new Aviva Stadium in Dublin

Green kick start at Aviva in Dublin

Another Irish stadium, the Aviva (formerly known as Lansdowne Road before its redevelopment) has already achieved the BS8901:2009 certification to confirm its status as a sustainable venue after just a year in operation since the rebuild.

In its old incarnation the Lansdowne Road Stadium was the oldest sports stadium in Europe. The Aviva is home to the the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Republic of Ireland football team. The Irish rugby team are currently participating in the Rugby World Cup, having been victorious over Australia in Sydney on Saturday.

BS8901:2009 is currently a British standard but it is likely to become an international standard, ISO20121, in 2012.

“A building of this size in such a unique location creates unusual environmental and social challenges and while the design of the stadium includes some very smart solutions, how we operate the stadium is also an essential aspect of addressing these challenges,” said Aviva Stadium’s director Martin Murphy at the time.

Aviva is taking a three-pronged approach to sustainability, according to Bill Enright, the stadium operations manager. This includes environmental impact, social impact and economic impact.

During the stadium’s redevelopment, the onsite crushing of the old stands took place so they could be reused as foundation material. The old stadium’s steel rebar was also recycled, while low CO2 concrete was also used during the rebuild.

The Aviva has also embraced rainwater harvesting, with its system having a 320,000-litre capacity. It also uses heat recovery from diesel generators. Pipe work from the cooling circuit on the generators ‘absorbs’ the heat produced by the generator for use in heating water supply.

The stadium has engaged smart-water meters to monitor and manage the stadium’s water consumption.

MetLife Stadium New Jersey

New MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and the New York Jets of the NFL. Image courtesy of NFL

MetLife Stadium in New Jersey lowers its water footprint

Also in the US, the new MetLife Stadium (the stadium opened as New Meadowlands Stadium in April 2010) has also embraced water conservation. Home to the New York Giants and the New York Jets of the NFL, the new stadium has committed to reducing water demand by an estimated 11,000,000 gallons per year, or a 25pc reduction in the average annual water demand compared to the old stadium.

During its revamp, MetLife went for synthetic turf as opposed to natural grass for its playing field. It says this has resulted in savings of 3,500,000 gallons of water per year compared to natural grass.

Waterless urinals throughout the men’s restrooms in New Stadium  have also resulted in savings of 2,700,000 gallons of water per year, according to MetLife.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and MetLife Stadium Company, the stadium’s principal owner, signed a memorandum of understanding that outlined their plans to incorporate environmentally-friendly materials and practices into MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey last year.

Qatar eyes up green stadiums in time for 2022 FIFA World Cup

Qatar Green Stadium plan

Planned Doha Port Stadium, Qatar. Image courtesy of National Geographic

Then we have the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, which unveiled its plans for a new green stadiums in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic