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Greener stadiums, is it possible?



What could be less ecological than a stadium welcoming tens of thousands of supporters for a sporting event? A Ligue 1 match alone generates around ten tonnes of waste; to water lawns, millions of cubic meters of water are needed every year; and hundreds of tons of CO2 are issued to transport the public to each day of the championship.

While eyes will turn in a few days to the air-conditioned stadiums erected by Qatar for the World Cup, some structures in France are already trying to green. With their hybrid lawns, the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roofs or even a rainwater recovery system, they claim eco-responsible behavior.

A growing awareness

Model clubs in terms of sustainable development? Antoine Miche, president of the Football Ecology France association, seems skeptical. “We can of course cite Lorient, which has bet on geothermal energy, or the stadiums of Lyon and Nice, which are renowned for their water recovery system. In reality, they all have their particularity, but not enough to be set up as a model”, emphasizes this specialist. While hoping that the Brest stadium, which should undergo a considerable renovation in the next few years, will be an exception.

“Overall, we can feel a growing awareness in clubs and leagues on environmental issues, believes the former international rugby player Julien Pierre, himself very committed to this subject. But their willingness to take responsibility is not enough. “85% of the stadiums belong to the communities, the effort must come from the top”, he believes.

It remains to pay the price. But today, cities do not provide sufficient resources to properly renovate sports arenas, according to Antoine Miche. “Investments to make stadiums greener run into tens of millions of euros. Cities that are in favor of it often find themselves confronted with a metropolis that does not want it; Or vice versa. Difficult, under these conditions, to obtain sufficient subsidies”, he laments.

Hybrid lawn versus artificial lawn

Despite these political uncertainties, Bertrand Picard, founder of Natural Grass, the French leader in the construction of high-level hybrid lawns, wants to believe that the world of sport will change. “We are constantly approached by clubs looking for solutions to adapt to climate change and to reduce their environmental footprint, he testifies. Our customers are a reflection of society: clubs and leagues obviously want to reduce their environmental impact, but to do so they need solutions that work. »

The hybrid turf specialist speaks with knowledge, because the technology it develops partly embodies the future of stadiums. By hybrid lawn, understand a 100% natural lawn, rooted in a substrate reinforced at the level of the roots by less than 1% of synthetic fibers, kinds of artificial roots allowing a better anchoring of the lawn. The opposite of synthetic turf, made up of 100% plastic materials.

“Hybrid lawns also allow their neighbors to benefit from the benefits of natural grass: combating heat islands through evapotranspiration (the lawn becomes a real natural air conditioner)CO capture2(up to 15 tons per year)dust filtration, retention and filtering of storm water, biodiversity…”, adds Bertrand Picard. According to him, the additional economic cost“about 20%”is offset by lower maintenance costs over the long term.

Access to the stadium, the construction site of tomorrow

For two years, an environmental label, the first in the sports field, certifies the commitment of clubs in terms of ecology. Created by Julien Pierre, Fair Play for Planet defends an economic and social development model concerned with the environment through 350 criteria. Among them, that of the accessibility of sports arenas: “The big subject of tomorrow’s stadiums lies in how to get there”, says the former professional player.

Focusing on carpooling and the accessibility of public transport, the latter regrets that many stadiums are far from urban centers. Although some clubs have set up reduced fares, or even free access, for access to public transport on match nights, the share of spectators coming to the stadium by this means does not exceed 9%, according to figures from the think Sport and citizenship tank.

Sporting events, accelerators of change?

At a time when most observers point to the environmental aberration of the World Cup in Qatar, Julien Pierre calls for a more global reflection on the holding of major sporting events. “Perhaps we should think about regionalizing things, doing less but better, he suggests. The world of sport represents only 1% of greenhouse gas emissions, but it has an exceptional power of communication. You have to surf on it. »

On the Qatar side, the carbon footprint presented by FIFA, equivalent to 3.6 million tonnes of CO2, is once again contested. According to calculations by the company specializing in the assessment of the carbon footprint of major events, Greenly, the competition should release the equivalent of 6 million tonnes into the atmosphere. A result almost twice that envisaged by the international federation. Infrastructure alone represents 27% of the carbon footprint, according to the study.

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A heavy environmental impact

According to a study by the online media Youmatter, it is necessary to count:

100,000 kWh of electricity to light a stadium for one match, i.e. the consumption of 20 households in one year.

36 million liters of water for the maintenance of the lawn of the Stade de France for one year. This equates to 720,000 ten-minute showers.

60 tonnes of CO2for car travel by one-third of supporters to an enclosure of more than 30,000 people, for one year. This is the fuel consumption for six round-the-world trips by car.

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