Operating Sustainability


04 min. reading time

Having developed a sustainable stadium, it is critical that it performs to its full potential. The first important step is to ensure that comprehensive testing and commissioning takes place as described in Section 4.6.


Commissioning is important because it reduces the performance gap, which is the difference between how the building is predicted to perform by the design team and the actual performance recorded by the operations team. This performance gap can be greatest in a high-performance stadium due to the complexities of the design and the interaction with service systems. In this context, the impact of relatively small issues in the construction process can be multiplied. Commissioning is therefore critical in ensuring that the building performs as planned.

A commissioning agent should be consulted during the design process to assist with the transition from design to operations. Traditionally, these appointments have been left until the completion of the construction stage, but as stadiums have become more technologically complex and higher-performing, having this appointment earlier in the design process can help to prevent issues before they occur.

Large, more complex stadiums should have longer commissioning periods to fine-tune the operation of the stadium. Longer periods allow more time to incrementally improve the performance year on year. It might take up to three years after completion for larger stadiums to achieve their optimum performance.

Sustainable energy
309 solar panels on the roof of Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, which contribute 100kWh to the energy supply for the stadium. 100% green power has been purchased for five years of operational energy


Stadiums should aspire to be zero carbon when considering the emissions associated with the operational energy of the stadium. This is achieved by using the climate-friendly technology installed as per the design, using as much renewable energy as possible and then offsetting the unavoidable balance that remains.

It is possible to go beyond zero and operate as carbon positive. This is achieved by having a substantial amount of on-site renewable energy that generates more emission-free energy than the stadium uses. This energy could benefit a neighbouring housing development, for example, if the stadium is part of a wider redevelopment. This is an achievable goal, given the surface area of large stadiums.

Existing stadiums whose energy performance is poor should consider retrofitting to reduce their operational carbon emissions.


As well as consideration in the stadium design, achieving low water usage in a stadium relies on the understanding and willingness of the stadium spectators, the stadium maintenance teams and the stadium staff. Positive messaging around the water conservation goals of the project can help to achieve this. Clear guidance for the stadium maintenance teams will ensure that they clean and maintain the building as intended. This is particularly important for the success of innovations such as waterless urinals.

For further details on water usage, including sustainability considerations, please see Sub-Section 5.6.4.


Stadium owners should set ambitious goals for reducing the amount of waste they create and further goals for limiting the percentage of that waste that ends up in landfill. All stadiums should aspire to zero landfill status in terms of event waste. Some of the sustainability initiatives that a stadium operator could consider include:

• avoiding single-use plastic;
• requiring supply chains to take back packaging;
• changing how food is distributed;
• composting all pitch waste; and
• avoiding paper-based and other giveaways.

As is the case with water usage, reducing waste in a stadium also requires engagement with spectators and staff. Positive messaging around the waste management and recycling goals of the project can help achieve this.


How a stadium is operated can impact the biodiversity and ecology that surrounds a stadium. Some of the initiatives a stadium operator could consider include:

• turning off video screens and lights when they are not needed in order to reduce light pollution (this also saves energy);
• ensuring crowds cannot create shortcuts through soft landscaped areas;
• diverting crowds away from areas with high ecological value;
• collecting litter dropped by stadium crowds; and
• enhancing and maintaining the landscape around the stadium.


Sustainable stadiums should be celebrated as off-field successes for the clubs that use them, and having a sustainable stadium is increasingly being seen as a positive for commercial partners.

Stadium owners should publish regular updates on the performance of their sustainable stadiums, reporting on the environmental sustainability categories identified in this guide: carbon, energy, water, waste, and biodiversity, as well as the social and economic dimension of a sustainable stadium (i.e. accessibility, community engagement, diversity, etc.).

Data could include matchday and non-matchday targets compared against the actual usage or achievement. The results of any GBC assessments should be included.

Publishing this data will help stadium designers improve future designs and achieve a low-carbon sustainable future for all.