Profit, planet, and people: Dublin stadium’s approach to sustainability

A rainbow over the Aviva Stadium during the RBS Six Nations Rugby match played between Ireland and Wales in Dublin, Ireland. [Aidan Crawley/EPA]

Controlling the social, economic and environmental impacts should be at the core of the administration of a sports venue, managers of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin told EURACTIV in an interview.

“Ever since we opened in 2010, there has been a strong important sustainability focus,” Daniel Wynne, Operations Co-ordinator said.

The Aviva stadium works towards maximising its economic and social impact in the community while reducing its ecological footprint.

The work goes from supporting the community to making the events more environmentally friendly.

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Reducing operations carbon footprint

As the stadium was recently built, part of the materials resulted from the demolition of the old venue were recycled. The facilities count now on an energy-efficient system that has helped to reduce the carbon footprint of the operations as well.

At the moment, the venue is 100% powered with clean energy.

“We have been doing it for a number of years now. It is starting to slowly get more and more difficult because a lot of the easy, low hanging fruit is gone,” Aidan Byrne, Sustainability Manager, explained.

However, small decisions such as closing areas of the venue when they are not being used help reducing energy consumption, they explained.

Furthermore, the venue has a system to reduce water usage by collecting rain from the roof, which is then diverted and used for the sprinklers on the pitch, helping to reduce water consumption too.

As the stadium is applying several event sustainability management systems, they benefit from independent auditors that make sure they are complying with the required standards.

“It gives a bit of transparency and accountability,” Byrne said.

Waste management, the more simple the better

The organisation of sports events often results in the generation of tonnes of garbage.

The stadium manages to recycle on-site 70% of its waste on average, according to managers. The percentage improves in the external management of the residues.

“A lot of it has to do with educating people in the right way to treat the waste because I think that if you don’t communicate, they’ll just flip into their habits. We need to constantly remind people of recycling,” Wynne insisted.

To ensure better waste management, the stadium recently changed its collection system to make it as simple as possible for the supporters. “It kind of mimics what people had that they normally had in their home,” Byrne highlighted.

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Beyond environmental sustainability

The Aviva Stadium aims to have a positive impact in the community, beyond being environmentally friendly.

On the one hand, it has further reduced its carbon footprint and activates the local economy by contracting providers that source their products locally and nationally. The staff of the stadium is preferably hired among the members of the community too.

Furthermore, the managers of the stadium have established a Community Fund of €105,000. “If an association wants to host an event in the area, a local rugby or football club, or they needed some funding maybe for gear, they can apply,” Byrne said.

To the date, the Aviva has funded projects valued €1,000,000.

Looking at the Euro 2020

The Aviva Stadium is one of the venues selected to host Euro 2020 that will take place in a dozen locations around Europe to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Asked about whether hosting such an event would be a challenge in terms of sustainability, the answer was straightforward: “No, I think it’ll actually encourage it,” Daniel Wynne said.

“If anything, it is going to kind of drive on our sustainable approach to events, and it might even give us some new ideas about how to run our events in a favourable way. So I’d say it’s definitely a positive thing,” Wynne stressed.

The Aviva Stadium is part of Life Tackle project, an initiative co-funded by the European Commission that is launching pilot projects to enhance the sustainability of sports events in general and football matches in particular.

“There is kind of a knowledge-sharing setup, so if other stadiums are doing something in a kind of a better way than we are, that knowledge is passed on, and vice versa,” Aidan Byrne pointed out, “that’s the goal there.”

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Football inspires, it brings people together and is like a religion to some – as we may well see at the Women’s World Cup final in France on Sunday. But football also has its downsides: heaps of rubbish, squandering of water and a big CO2 footprint. The Life Tackle initiative now wants to change that.

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Life Tackle

Life Programme

LIFE TACKLE is co-funded by the LIFE Environmental Governance and Information Programme of the European Union - Project Number LIFE17 GIE/IT/000611



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