Olympics is here – but which is the most sustainable sporting stadium?


Sustainable Sports Stadiums

The 2020 Olympics are now underway (in 2021), and sustainable buildings and stadiums are playing their own important roles in today’s world – superstars of a sustainable future! Forward-thinking design and building of these centres for human excellence is perhaps the ultimate way to raise awareness of the benefits and assets of future sustainable buildings, and the positive impacts they can bring not only to the environment but also to people.

Every four years usually sees more athletes performing as well as more people attending, and the contributing countries are feeling the pressure to build more sustainably: these are big investments as well as showcases of national policies and performance, and the buildings are almost as important as the sports being played – and last a lot longer than a 100m sprint! The need for more sustainable buildings is leading contractors to specify more sustainable options to promote sport in a sustainable environment. To fully understand why sustainable buildings and stadiums are so important, we need to look at the benefits and the reasoning behind them.

What are the benefits on building a sustainable stadium?

What are the benefits on building a sustainable stadium?

With the help of sustainable construction and the use of non-toxic materials, many future benefits are being realised. And here are just 5 of the great reasons why building sustainable stadiums promotes a healthier environment1:

  1. Water preservation: because a lot of water is needed in stadiums to water and prepare the real grass pitches, clean the venue or for sanitary reasons, water consumption in stadiums are very high. When considering how to reduce water consumption, green initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and recycling can be considered.
  2. Energy preservation: in order to reduce the use of energy, more and more stadiums are being made to conserve energy consumption, and even being equipped with solar and wind power to provide them with an alternative energy source.
  3. Low pollution: nowadays, more and more stadiums are built with healthier, more sustainably-sourced and recycled materials, such as wood, plastic and paper. With the help of using greener building materials that help fight global resource depletion, the amount of waste and pollution in the environment is reduced and the destructive impacts of construction are minimised.
  4. Financial benefits: by choosing greener and longer-lasting materials for stadiums, environmentally-friendly projects will be
    cheaper in the long run when the maintenance and operation of the buildings are taken into account. Moreover, the value of the project can actually increase over time, while the costs of water, energy, maintenance and insurance premiums can decrease.
  5. Reduced health risks to the community: using non-toxic materials can not only reduce health problems within the community, but also safety risks while stadia are constructed and in use for years after!

Sustainability in sports stadiums

So now that we are aware of the benefits of why it is important to focus on sustainable construction, let’s take a look at the current sport stadiums that have made it to the top of the list of most sustainable sports buildings in the world2.

Amsterdam ArenA, Netherlands

The ArenA, home to Ajax Football Club, is powered by more than 4,200 solar panels and even a wind turbine. The main facility of the Arena is equipped with an amazing energy-generating escalator, an energy storage system using recycled batteries and electric vehicles. And to complete the list, the stadium reuses rainwater by collecting it on the roof to water the pitch while reducing water consumption.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, USA

By receiving platinum Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a global standard for measuring the sustainability of buildings, the Mercedes-Benz professional sports stadium is one of the world’s most sustainable sports venues: it consumes 29% less energy, is equipped with LED lighting and there are around 4,000 solar panels on the roof as a contribution to a more sustainable environment. With its own storm water management system, the stadium can store up to 2 million gallons on site to prevent natural disasters and use 47% less water at the same time. Pedestrian-friendly paths allow supporters to reach the building safely and easily. The stadium even provides a bicycle valet program and electric vehicle charging.

Levi’s Stadium, USA

With not one but two LEED certifications, Levi’s Stadium is one of the most sustainable buildings in the city of San Francisco. The stadium has found a perfect way to highlight innovative sustainability elements by installing more than 1,000 solar elements, solar-powered pedestrian bridges, a solar-paneled terrace and a 27,000-square-metre roof. The stadium has implemented its own materials procurement programme, meeting strict sustainability criteria, and has been able to commit to local food sourcing. In 2018, the stadium promised to fight climate change, which was even recognised by the White House’s Science and Technology Policy Office.

Golden 1 Center, USA

By engaging fans in the message of climate action through their global sports platform and organising “sustainability nights”, the Golden 1 Center has put a lot of pressure on helping to build a more sustainable environment. With the use of 100% solar energy, a water conservation practice to reduce water consumption by 45% and recycling 99% of demolition materials, the stadium has certainly shown its effort to maintain a sustainable stadium. In 2017, the Golden 1 Center was even awarded the world’s greenest and most technologically advanced sports and entertainment facility, and according to Green Project Management, the stadium is among the top 3 percent of high-performance buildings worldwide.

Building a sustainable stadium

Building a sustainable stadium

So now you have been introduced to world’s leading sustainable sporting stadiums, the real question is: How can you contribute to making a sustainable stadium?

As we know, many of the commonly used building materials are made of non-renewable resources, such as PVC or aluminium, which are finite, depleting resources, and often come with heavy energy and emissions costs. Every day, more and more pollution is released and CO2 is added to the surface air. However, our world can also provide us with raw materials that offer a long-term solution to both of these impacts: this material is wood, from well-managed and sustainable forests.

By specifying Accoya wood, you are already one step closer to helping build a more sustainable stadium by selecting it as your material for decking, cladding, windows and doors – frames or any other application. Accoya wood is sourced from fast growing trees and sustainably certified forests and offers many benefits to application-oriented industries around the world! Its high performance, unrivalled durability and sustainable credentials make it the perfect solution; a truly unique combination of qualities.

Thanks to our unique acetylation process, Accoya wood is highly resistant to decay – meaning it lasts and stores carbon for decades, making it a perfect alternative not only to carbon-intensive and resource-depleting materials, but also to slower-growing and unsustainably sourced hardwoods.

Just think about it. Who wouldn’t want beautiful installations from a material that has a longer lifespan while simultaneously increasing global carbon storage and providing us with a climate-proof alternative to concrete, metal and plastic, all for the sake of a more sustainable environment?

And don’t forget; you are opting for a premium product with exceptional stability that can easily last twice as long and require less upkeep than other alternatives – so in the long run the running costs can be much cheaper too.

Accoya wood may not be competing in the Olympics, but it has it’s very own Gold: Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Gold to be precise, marking it as the top performer in the building materials industry.

To give you some inspiration and ideas, let’s look at a couple of the few sustainable projects where Accoya has contributed to a more sustainable world by helping to build a greener sports stadium!



The renovated Omnisport building in the Netherlands, which not only hosts world championships but also local competitions and is a practice track for many future cyclists, was named the world’s first fully sustainable cycling track made of wood: the Velodrome. The Velodrome is the perfect place to watch the world cycling championships with the whole family, as the building has 5,000 seats, giving you the atmosphere as if you were cycling on the track during the race itself!

The building is something to be proud of and will be remembered not only for its exceptional design, performance and unparalleled durability, but also for all the medals it has won. In 2018, the track cycling world championships were held in the Omnisport building, which became the most successful global tournament ever for the Netherlands.

And when you come to think that the indoor Velodrome is breath-taking wait until you see the outdoor Velodrome; adding an extra touch to a cycle track for future cyclists.

Outdoor Velodrome

Outdoor Velodrome


The outdoor velodrome, designed by Sander Douma Architects, was specified with Accoya wood for the 200m cycling track in Assen, the Netherlands, making it the perfect place for cyclists to train for their future cycling races while enjoying some fresh air.

The outdoor velodrome not only gives cyclists a feeling of freedom, but also creates benefits for the cyclists by giving them less resistance and more speed when cycling on the track. This is thanks to our unique modification process, which makes Accoya the perfect material for both internal and external applications of the sports stadium.


  1. Sports And Environment: Green Initiatives In Stadiums, online source: https://cascadiasport.com/sports-and-environment-green-initiatives-in-stadiums/ [access June 11, 2019]
  2. The 5 most sustainable sports venues in the world, online source: https://www.climateaction.org/news/the-5-most-sustainable-sports-venues-in-the-world [access 04 January 2018]

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