Amanda Gassé for Zondits, March 12, 2015
Visitors to Wembley Stadium in London, England, may not have sustainability and energy efficiency in mind while attending a football game or concert. Most fans wouldn’t think about the tremendous amount of resources consumed during an event or the amount of power, water, and materials needed to maintain and operate a stadium. Fortunately, environmental impact is a driving factor in the stadium’s management.
The new Wembley opened its doors in 2007 as the UK’s largest stadium and home to England’s national football team. Owner and operator the FA Group implemented an environmental management system (EMS) in 2008 to formalize their commitment to making continuous improvements in environmental sustainability and to ensure compliance with environmental policies. Early in 2012 the FA Group began an evaluation of Wembley’s EMS using the data as a benchmark to measure current and future performance. The evaluation report, Going Greener, was recently released and highlights Wembley Stadium’s leadership and achievements in environmental sustainability.
Among the notable accomplishments in the report, Wembley is the first stadium in the world to earn three stars, the highest category, in the Industry Green Certification, and one of the first organizations to achieve Carbon Trust Waste Standard. Wembley has been a “zero waste to landfill” venue since August 2010, with all waste diverted to recycling or waste-to-energy plants that return energy to the grid. In 2013, the stadium was able to divert 73.7% of waste through recycling materials and sending food waste to an anaerobic digestion plant, rather than to a waste-to-energy plant.
The report also highlights energy-related targets for both 2012 and 2013 using 2009‒2011 baseline gas and electricity data from utilities. Between 2007 and 2012 the EMS reduced electrical consumption and related carbon emissions by 32%. While electricity consumption increased in 2013, the stadium was close to meeting internal reduction targets for event days and exceeded targets for non-event days. Targets were met by initiating a project to switch off all non-essential emergency lighting on non-event days, installing passive infrared controls on all lighting circuits, repositioning air conditioning units for maximum efficiency, and encouraging employee engagement in sustainability practices.
While the total carbon “bootprint” of a game at Wembley Stadium is 5,160 metric tons, the EMS is committed to engaging employees and visitors to significantly reduce their collective environmental impact. The report concludes with a commitment from the FA Group to lead the sports industry in sustainability and continuously improve its environmental performance.