The Mercedes Benz Stadium, in Atlanta, USA, became last year the first sports stadium to get the LEED platinum certification. One of the most prestigious awards which recognize sustainable, low emissions and environmentally friendly buildings. The Green Council considered granting this recognition for its rainwater collection system, the renewable energy generated through its 4,000 solar PV panels and the facilitation of alternative transportation (bicycle and pedestrian walks), among other initiatives. This was made possible thanks to the commitment of its owners to benefit the environment and the city, as well as the sustainability consulting service firm Ecoworks Studio, which played a key role.
This studio focused on sports stadiums due to its previous experience with buildings like convention centres, where many people attend. As the headquarters of a great sports team, these facilities go from having a few visitors one day, to tens of thousands the next day, which among other issues a great power demand is needed.
The way this company finally got the LEED certification for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is as interesting as its work method, the “What if…?” From the start, they do not suggest to their clients’ technical possibilities. What they intend to know is what do they aspire for their new headquarters with different questions such as: what if the sports stadium can contribute to a more sustainable future? What if we could store the kinetic energy attendees generate when walking inside the stadiums? What if we provide a recreational space for the neighbourhood, adding one more public park to the city? And so on…
These “What if…?” are not only inspiring, but they also demonstrate how sports stadiums can no longer be conceived just like buildings. They can also add solutions to energy and water resources. That is sustainability and when applied, these buildings become opinion leaders who are capable to positively influence society. When a club decides to turn its headquarters into a highly sustainable building with optimal environmental management, it is indicating which way it wants to evolve. Thus contributing to society with its positive impact and responsible behaviour for others to follow.