The fracas over #FarmersvsIPL in the State of Maharashtra is a good time to review how sports infrastructure in different parts of the world adapts itself to better resources management in the hopes that sports leagues will be sustainable enterprises that are not draining key resources from other critical needs.
The staging of professional sporting events and the large amount of money that is generated by them and the large numbers of fans which they engage means that there is the capacity to innovate. This has resulted in a series of small and large significant design modifications and sustainable practices by arenas all over the world.
Venue Greening, which is exploring ways to design the construction and maintenance of the facilities to be smarter and have less environmental impact, will become integral to all architecture and can be applied most interestingly in the arena of sports stadiums and playing fields. Recycled food waste, for example, was used to build the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Stadium, which is a building practice from green building techniques that will become more common in the future for all kinds of buildings as it is also cost-effective.
The Football World Cup (2014) made a strong clean-energy statement as it was played in a stadium built specifically for the event that was powered by solar energy and also generated and sent excess energy into households in Brazil. Along with this infrastructure commitment by the host nation there was a turnkey approach undertaken where other schemes were put into place to engage Brazil’s stakeholders to act collectively and ensure that FIFA 2014 was a low-carbon event.
Along with clean energy generation, the idea of architecturally rethinking the value of big structures altogether and optimizing the expense and scale needed for a large stadium structure is to turn it into a resource for rainwater harvesting. Two examples of this are the bioframe roof of the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium and, in a no less fascinating iteration of the concept, PITCHAfrica’s Waterbank Campus in Kenya. In both cases these large structures aid in the harvest and storage of potable water in use in the region.
Even a sport like Car Racing is holistically moving towards a more sustainable model. Five years ago the American NASCAR racing event switched to Sunoco Green E15, a fuel blended with 15 percent American Ethanol. Formula E, the Electric Car Grand Prix, had its inaugural race in Beijing in September this year and there is now a possibility of bringing it to India in 2016-17. All this technology, which is being developed and perfected in the realm of sport, will be knowledge that one day will be affordable enough to be transferred to the consumer sector to benefit everyday life on this planet.
And finally, a small, significant adjustment but no less exciting, has been made to keep American football sustainable. The San Francisco 49ers in their new Levis Stadium where the use of a type of sturdy grass called Bermuda Bandera that is naturally greener, needs less replanting, and uses 50% less water than regular grass means that over time the overall water footprint at this stadium will be far less than if another grass was used.
With India facing impending drought conditions the various outdoor sporting leagues around Cricket, Hockey and Football which require pitches to be maintained must consider how they will arrange for affordable, usable water for their games in the future. Along with the stadiums the amount used for laundry of team uniforms should be considered in the overall water consumption for a team as well. The handful of examples above illustrate how many different solutions can be tailored for each league and by each team or by each venue.
Aliya Curmally is a Writer from Mumbai with a keen interest in how people engage with the environment and who otherwise works in the film industry. Follow her on @toxiccitydotco for environment and sustainability stories.