Football and sustainability do not go hand in hand as the maintenance of a football field requires tonnes of water, raw material and energy. But Forest Green Rovers (FGR) Club has changed this view by creating an Eco-friendly football stadium
Located in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, New Lawn stadium is the most sustainable football stadium in the world with an organic pitch. It uses ground water and also collects rainwater to moisten the pitch. It is also believed that the FGR has been spreading organic manure on the football pitch. 25 % of the stadium’s electricity generation is through the solar panels attached on the roof and outside the stadium. Dale Vince, Chairman FGR club and owner of Ecotricity, an eco-friendly energy company, “We’re building a football club that’s both environmentally and financially sustainable. We got involved for two reasons – social and environmental. The club is a big part of the local community, with a rich tradition, and it needed rescuing. For us, it was an investment in the local community. Secondly, the club offered an opportunity to take our sustainable message to a new audience – a large and passionate new audience largely unaccustomed to dealing with sustainability issues” he said commenting on his involvement with FGR.
The club uses a solar powered grass cutter, called ‘MowBot’ the world’s first robotic lawn mower. MowBot has an inbuilt GPS for automatically guiding the pathway without human intervention. The club is guided by the philosophy of three R’s – Reuse, Reduce and Recycle, and therefore the grass cut by MowBot is used by the locals to condition their soil and all waste cooking oil at the club is recycled into biofuel. FGR football club has won awards for growing the ‘organic’ pitch, avoiding the use of chemicals. In 2012, the club beat 200 nominees to win the first prize in the Institute of Groundsmanship awards in the sustainability category for The New Lawn. FGR achieved the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) in 2012, which is a voluntarily environmental management instrument, commissioned by European Commission to evaluate, report and improve performances on environment.
Outside the ground, there are blooming species of wild flora to create a habitat for wildlife and certainly make it more natural. This is not it, the club does not serve red meat to their players, the club players became totally vegan at the end of the year 2015. No animal products like cow milk or cheese is sold or served in the club. Taking its commitment to sustainability further, Ecotricity is building a new 100 acre facility called Eco-park in Gloucestershire. Estimated to cost £100m, Eco-park is being designed by architect Zaha Hadid. Of the 100 acres nearly half will house a multidisciplinary sporting facility including a sports stadium. The other half will comprise a green technology business park. “With Eco Park we hope to push the boundaries of sustainable development, create 4,000 jobs in the green economy, a world class football stadium and make more room for nature with a big biodiversity boost, as well as creating a new ‘Gateway to Stroud’,” said Ecotricity founder Dale Vince.
A unique feature of the stadium is that it will be made entirely of wood with no steel or concrete and will be fireproof. It will have a capacity of 5000. Interestingly, by generating onsite energy, the 100 acre Eco-park aims to be carbon neutral or negative.