There are only six years left until the FIFA 2022 World Cup, the biggest sports event that will take place in Doha. In that remaining time all the necessary factors, including stadiums, hotels, metro, and other accompanying infrastructure, by some estimates more than USD 200 billion worth, has to be built. According to officials, all the stadiums will be ready on time, making the 2022 World Cup the first one since the 2006 World Cup held in Germany, to have stadiums ready in time.
Moreover, all the stadiums will be built in a sustainable manner: Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD) announced that 80 percent of construction projects in Qatar built until the football tournament in 2022 will be based on the principles of sustainability.
Sustainability of the World Cup projects are important for FIFA too – their regulations also require carbon neutral, sustainable sport venues. According to officials, the aim is for all stadiums to have both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) certification. In fact, GSAS certification was developed by GORD in 2009, and besides stadiums, all government buildings, including schools and hospitals, will need to comply with GSAS by 2016, followed by all new commercial and residential buildings in a near future.
GSAS is a set of green building standards, which rate environmental impact of buildings, from carbon footprint of construction materials used to build it; daily usage of water, electricity and other energy, light quality within the building, waste recycling, to proximity to the public transport. In recent years, Qatar has taken a proactive stance when it comes to green building and is already, along with the UAE, leading the region in sustainable building – 16 percent of all green buildings across the GCC member states are in Qatar.
In the context of building sustainable sports venues, two arenas built for the 2015 World Men’s Handball Championship – Lusail Sports Arena and Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiya Arena – have met demanding sustainability standards and achieved GSAS four star ratings. So the experience is there, but some industry experts argue that the building process itself is not at all green, since almost all of the material has to be imported.
“The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has established a number of strategies to ensure that sustainability is embedded in all aspects related to the design, construction and operation of the FIFA 2022 World Cup facilities,” says Rashed Al Nasa’a, head of Sustainability at Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB). “This includes setting performance targets and requirements in an integrated approach that encompasses key sustainable design factors like carbon management, energy, water, materials, waste management, biodiversity and urban ecology, urban connectivity, management and operations, cultural and economic value and legacy. All designers and contractors that are involved in the projects are required to demonstrate that their projects meet these green building requirements,” he adds.
AEB, established in 1966, is the oldest Qatari architecture firm, and recently won the bid to design Qatar’s eighth and probably final 2022 World Cup stadium to be located in Al Thumama. AEB has a vast portfolio of more than 1,500 projects spanning across all sectors not only in Qatar but also Abu Dhabi, Oman, Kuwait, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan. In Qatar, they have worked on several well-known buildings such as Gulf Mall, Doha Fire Station for Qatar Museums, the Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel on The Pearl and the Barwa Al Sadd complex among others.
High efficiency standards
Al Nasa’a reiterates all the FIFA 2022 World Cup stadiums are aiming to achieve LEED Gold and GSAS 4 Star certifications, which means that high energy efficiency standards will be in place. “This includes the design of high performance building envelopes and the use of innovative cooling technologies that will provide year round comfort condition for users and visitors. In addition, renewable energy systems within each precinct will contribute to the stadiums’ energy efficiency and assist in the delivery of a carbon neutral tournament. From what has been announced so far, things look very promising, but it will be some time before one can judge how successful efforts have been in meeting the targets that have been set during design and planning phases,” he explains.
MEED estimates the eight new stadiums and other football facilities built for FIFA World Cup 2022 will require a total investment of USD 4.83 billion. Qatar’s original bid was 12 new and refurbished stadiums, but the number reduced, due to assessment of the real needs on the ground. FIFA requires at least eight venues to be used to host the 64 matches during the World Cup tournament.
At the end of last year, the above mentioned eighth stadium in Al Thumama, and the seventh stadium which will be built in Ras Abu Aboud, were announced by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SCDL), the government body whose task is to ensure that all preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup align with Qatar’s other development imperatives, as described in the Qatar National Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy 2011-2016.
Qatar Foundation Stadium, for which construction started last year, will have photovoltaic and reflective technologies embedded into the stadium’s roof to produce renewable energy that will be used for electricity and hot water generation. Also, at least 20 percent of the materials used for this stadium will come from sustainable sources: 50 percent of all wood-based materials will be procured from sources with sustainable forest management practices, and 20 percent of all materials will be sourced regionally, says the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.
For Al Rayyan Stadium, which is being built on the site of the old, now demolished one, up to 90 percent of the old stadium is to be reused both as construction material and equipment for other stadiums. Moreover, most of the stadiums are built in a modular form, and their capacity will be reduced by half after the tournament. Removed seats are to be donated to developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Overcoming the gap
Explaining the major demands that World Cup projects have to satisfy in order to meet high sustainability standards, and to achieve GSAS four rating and LEED Gold rating, Al Nasa’a lays emphasis on Qatar’s ambition. “The aim is for Qatar to host a carbon neutral tournament, which requires a collaborative and integrated approach to how World Cup facilities are designed, constructed and operated. Furthermore, the legacy phase following the tournament is crucial to ensure that all facilities continue to create a positive impact environmentally, socially, culturally and economically. This is why one of the main demands that World Cup projects have to satisfy and one of the measures of how “green” they are is the legacy that they will be contributing. This is where design teams should put forward plans that would not only meet targets and objectives but go beyond that to achieve higher benchmarks that everyone can look up to and learn from,” he says.
Involved in construction of sports venues for FIFA World are numerous companies – from internationally recognized architectural firms like AECOM, KEO, Foster and Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects, to smaller stakeholders which have to quickly adapt to new requirements of green building practices, in order to achieve carbon neutral tournament.
According to Hamoda Youssef, head of Communications at Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), the private sector in Qatar have not completely embraced green building practices in construction. “The sustainability agenda is heavily supported and pushed forward through governmental and semi-governmental entities like the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), Public Works Authority (Ashgal), Qatar Rail and others. The private sector’s endorsement to sustainability is not highly visible. To bridge the gap in a sustainable manner, QGBC’s concentration is on providing professional sustainability training and education. QGBC’s sustainability education programme also provides the market with the essential know-how to facilitate such market transformation,” he says. Qatar Green Building Council is a non-profit organisation established in 2009, as a member of Qatar Foundation, and is promoting green building solutions in Qatar.
Al Nasa’a thinks differently, saying the private sector in Qatar has responded quickly and efficiently to new building requirements. “The private sector in Qatar is at the forefront of implementing green building practices in construction. Whether it is architecture and engineering firms, contractors, suppliers, operators or other service providers, everyone is involved either at various stages or continuously throughout the green building lifecycle to meet the requirements of these projects. In order for all stakeholders to reap the benefits of green building practices and expand their involvement, a strong and supportive legislation system must be in place with regulations and guidelines that encourage sustainable design on all levels along with incentives that reward higher performance beyond minimum requirements,” he concludes.