Friday, 28 August 2009


Without a hint of irony Thursday’s Bristol Evening Post published another instalment in its increasing thick portfolio of promotional literature for Bristol City FC, this time about how important Bristol's "green credentials" might be in capturing the World Cup 2018 for England. A World Cup bid in which Bristol’s contribution so far consists of proposals for a superstore that will generate massive numbers of car journeys and the building of a new stadium, hotel, drive-thru restaurant, and 250+ houses on statutory Green Belt.

To heighten the hypocrisy, the article refers to Bristol's "green spaces" as being a major factor in boosting the city’s chances of becoming a host city and even illustrates the story with a photo of a green space, followed by a picture of the stadium.

It refers to FIFA's "green goal" campaign and then tells us that the greener England’s bid is the greater the chance of England being chosen to host the 2018 World Cup. It then goes on to talk about Bristol having a head start because of its “fine reputation on environmental issues”. An eclectic list of various areas where Bristol is perceived to be green ensues, before the obligatory quote from cheerleader in chief Stephen Wray:

"This is a key part of the England bid team's strategy to be ahead of the opposition. We are fortunate to have experts within the city and we are already setting new standards.”

And just in case anybody is in any doubt, the paper reminds us that “Bristol's bid hangs on the provision of a brand new stadium in Ashton Vale”.

It becomes blindingly obvious that the Evening Post and Stephen Wray have either not read the available documentation on the Green Goal programme or have simply failed to understand it. Either that or they are hoping that nobody else bothers to read it.

Let’s clarify what the Green Goal programme is and what it isn’t.

Firstly, what it isn’t. It isn’t about how many parks you have, it isn’t about how much recycling of domestic waste you do, it isn’t about how many wind turbines you have built in the city, it isn’t about how many people cycle or walk to work and it isn’t about how much of the city’s waste you send to landfill or incinerators. It isn’t even really about the level of carbon emissions per capita produced by the city – it is about the carbon emissions generated by the World Cup itself.

Green Goal is about the environmental impact of preparing for, and delivering, the World Cup. It seeks to reduce the environmental impact of the stadia themselves (construction has to be carbon neutral, materials should be recycled), the environmental effects of the usage of the stadia (carbon emissions from the stadium itself, water recycling, energy efficiency, reusable drinks and food containers) and of how fans travel to the stadia and to fan parks (minimisation of private cars, free public transport with matchday tickets).

By basing its World Cup Bid on the building of a brand new stadium on a green field site with a large amount of enabling development including a car-hungry superstore, Bristol is entering the campaign with a major handicap compared to those cities that will be extending or rebuilding existing stadia. Contrary to the Evening Post report, Bristol is already behind the game if the new stadium is, as proposed, built on green fields, and further handicapped if it is funded by the building of a giant superstore.

In Germany in 2006, only one stadium (Munich) was newly built on a new site and as a result its carbon emissions were, at 100,000 tonnes, twice as high as the next most carbon expensive stadium, and three times as high as the third. In addition another 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions were produced constructing the car parking for the Munich stadium. As part of the Green Goal programme, the German World Cup Bid team had agreed to offset any net carbon emissions by paying for carbon offsets. Based on the 2006 financial figures, offsetting 160,000 tonnes of carbon emissions would have cost the organising committee close to £2 million. They could have reduced that risk to £380,000 simply by choosing a redeveloped stadium over a new stadium. Unfortunately for them, Munich is home to Germany’s most famous football club with a status in German football similar to that held by the Manchester area in England. They could not contemplate a World Cup without Munich, as England could not without Manchester, and thus they had to work hard to find other means to reduce the climate impact of the tournament. Bristol, on the other hand, holds no such status in English football – the easy option would be to drop the lame duck.

The Green Goal programme has four main themes; Waste, Water, Energy, and Transport which all together are targeted to provide a Carbon Neutral World Cup. As we have limited space lets look at Energy.


The Sustainability Statement for the proposed new stadium at Ashton Vale calculates that its annual energy consumption will be in the region of 2,200 mWh and that it will emit 694 tonnes of carbon emissions per year after its proposed completion in 2012/13 as a 30,000 seater stadium. The architects proudly boast that its passive design technologies and highest levels of energy efficiency will see an 11% reduction in energy use from standard stadia.

Sounds good until you realise that the Green Goal programme was published back 2004 and set a target of a 20% reduction in energy use for World Cup stadiums, which means that the Ashton Vale stadium would need to reduce its emissions by another nine percentage points to meat targets that were considered attainable 6 years ago, equivalent to an 80% increase in the level of anticipated reduced carbon emissions. In addition, the figures for energy use and carbon emissions are for a 30,000 seat stadium whereas the stadium will need to have its capacity boosted by 40% to host World Cup games, with a related increase in energy use and carbon emissions.

During his recent tax-payers funded trip to Hannover, presumably Stephen Wray visited the city’s World Cup stadium – if so, he would have had the opportunity to see the District Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system used in the stadium to improve energy efficiency, an innovation that is especially significant as District CHP is currently being promoted by his employer Bristol City Council as making a major contribution to its Climate Change Policies for the Development Framework that will guide Bristol’s future development. District CHP could have a major impact on the energy efficiency of a new stadium, despite this the Sustainability Statement for the proposed stadium at Ashton Vale says “it is not proposed to install a district energy system at this stage of design”

To avoid carbon emissions altogether Renewable Energy was also a key component of the Green Goal programme for 2006. Several stadiums had photovoltaic plants installed with the Kaiserlautern stadium seeing the largest plant ever installed in a German stadium, covering three of its stands (an area of 6,000 sq m) and generating 720,000 kWh of electricity per year, enough for 200 detached houses and eliminating 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum. Furthermore Kaiserlautern municipal council used the Green Goal initiative as an exemplar model for the installation of photovoltaic plants on public and industrial buildings as well as on private houses – as of 2008, 4,300 mWh of electricity was being produced by photovoltaic plants with associated carbon emission reductions of 2,600 tonnes per annum. Despite this, Kaiserlautern did not consider entering itself for the title of European Green Capital.

As for Bristol City’s proposed stadium? “Renewable energy technologies have not been incorporated into the building design at this stage”

Meanwhile we haven’t even touched upon the energy produced in running an 110,000 square foot superstore. A 30,000 seat football stadium is quite an act to follow but a supermarket is in a different class. The proposed stadium’s 2,200 mWh per year is easily surpassed by the 4,800 mWh per year that would be produced by the size of superstore proposed for Ashton Gate (based on figures from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution).

Carbon Neutrality

Germany aimed to be carbon neutral for 2006 – they missed their target by 92,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. If just one stadium, Munich the only newly built venue, had not been selected, they would have hit their target. England’s World Cup Bid team will be aware of that, as a result those stadiums which are newly built and thus bring with them the largest carbon emissions are those most likely to hear the words “thanks, but no thanks”, especially if their efforts at energy efficiency and use of renewable energy technologies are, umm, outdated.

Bristol does indeed have a high level of expertise in environmental technologies – as normal they are being totally ignored with the result that if, indeed, green credentials are as important to the England World Cup bid as the Evening Post says it is – Bristol is in the process of entering a bid that will make England’s bid less likely to be successful.
To use another sporting analogy – if the race to become World Cup Hosts is like the Epsom Derby, Bristol look like they are about to offer a carthorse as their entry.

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