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Sustainability runs high on the 2022 FIFA World Cup list of priorities

Qatar splashed $6.5 billion on the construction of seven new stadiums and the facelift of another one, to be ready just in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The eight state-of-the-art arenas will not just offer the perfect setting for a superb tournament, dubbed by FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, maybe the best of all time, but will also ensure that Qatar’s goal to host the first-ever carbon neutral FIFA World Cup is met.

There has been plenty of talk about how Qatar will managed to host such an enormous event and still have a carbon neutral footprint, but the Local Organizing Committee has made huge strides in trying to ensure that everything goes to plan before, during, and after the tournament.

Qatar has also strived to comply with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, making the eight stadiums 30% more energy efficient than international benchmarks, with active energy efficiency, features added, green landscaping implemented in all eight venues, and using 40% less water, with water vapors collected from the cooling system used for irrigation and recycled water used for dust suppression.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals challenge everybody to reduce climate change, poverty, and inequality, while also maintaining economic growth. Green construction and sustainable stadiums, in particular, are addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues: good health and well-being, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.

“During their construction, we have recycled and reused wherever possible and implemented a vast range of energy and water efficiency solutions. In addition, we have used materials from sustainable sources and implemented innovative legacy plans to ensure our tournament doesn’t leave any ‘white elephants’”, said the Secretary General of the Qatari Football Federation, Hassan Al Thawadi.

In 2012, FIFA’s stadium requirements were amended to include an obligation for all FIFA World Cup stadiums to obtain an internationally acclaimed sustainability certification for construction.

All of the eight venues at the 2022 FIFA World Cup have also been awarded the GSAS Design & Build Certification, which is a green building standard developed especially for the Middle East and North Africa region, driving sustainability and climate actions in a regional context, focusing on the design, construction, and operational phases.

It also evaluates and assesses the urban connectivity, the use of energy and water, the construction materials of the project,t and the indoor environment, with the latter featuring factors such as acoustics, ventilation, and natural light.

The outdoor environment, cultural and heritage value, management and operation, urban and socio-consideration,s and the site in itself are also crucial parts of awarding the GSAS Design & Build Certificate.

The Qatar 2022 stadiums consume approximately 30% less energy than other stadiums, with a smart solution applied – they minimize the energy demand through an efficient supply of energy to the stadium, thanks to the design of the building envelope. In simpler terms, the building envelope is the floor, roof, walls and windows, who are crucial to the energy demand of the building. A thermally efficient building envelope minimizes the demand on the building’s systems, optimizing its energy efficiency.

Qatar’s climate features minimum rainfall and little to no groundwater available. Therefore, water is a precious resource in the Middle Eastern country, with water needs met through the desalination of water. Every stadium at the 2022 FIFA World Cup uses water-efficient fixtures, like dual flush toilets, waterless urinals, taps with shutoff sensors, and aerators on taps. This has meant that the arenas will consume 40% less water than normal.

Last, but not least, with the weather reaching 30 C temperatures throughout the whole tournament, arenas needed to be fitted with cooling systems, to create the perfect environment for all the involved stakeholders and especially for players and fans.

But how can these systems be sustainable? The stadium only needs to be cooled a couple of hours before an event and until the event ends, so the required energy will be minimized. Furthermore, only the fan and player areas need to be cooled, not the entire stadium, with a temperature between 18-22 C. Advanced controls mean the cooling systems can be configured to cool only the areas that need it.

The stadiums were also designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics to minimize the outside air mixing with the air from inside. Therefore, cooling a stadium bowl comprises just 20% of the tournament venue’s annual energy consumption.

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