A Green World Cup in 2014

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    Brazil’s government adopting measures aimed at producing the first sustainable World Cup in history.

    By Nelza Oliveira for

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Brazil wants 2014 to be the year the World Cup goes green. The road to a sustainable soccer competition begins with the 12 stadiums of the host cities.

    In order to obtain financing from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) for construction and renovation, the stadiums must have a green seal of approval. These seals, issued by internationally recognized certification bodies, indicate the venues are in compliance with the minimum standards of sustainable construction.

    Claudio Langone, coordinator of the Ministry of Sports’ Thematic Chamber for the Environment and Sustainability in the 2014 World Cup, says that even stadiums that did not need BNDES financing decided to go green.

    “All of the arenas have incorporated recycling of demolition material, reducing environmental costs and impacts,” says Langone, adding that wood and other raw materials used in the stadiums are environmentally friendly. “[All of the stadiums] are also adopting rainwater collection systems to irrigate the fields.”

    In order to save energy, the architecture of the stadiums being renovated and built incorporates natural ventilation and light, thereby avoiding the use of air conditioning and electric lights in the internal areas of the venues.

    Ventilation to keep the grass green

    Another advantage of natural ventilation is that the grass on the field will not rot quickly, as it does in a majority of Brazil’s stadiums, which are not ventilated.

    The National Stadium of Brasília – formerly the Mané Garrincha Stadium – located in the Federal District, has gone beyond the minimum requirements. The whole stadium is under construction – its capacity will increase from 45,000 to 71,000 – and has had 2 km (1.2 miles) of fencing decorated by 100 graffiti artists.

    In order to obtain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification – issued by the internationally recognized non-profit Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) in the United States – Brasília’s stadium will have enough solar panels on its roof to power the entire sports complex.

    Certification of the Sustainable Construction of Arenas is one of the five thematic centers of the Department for the Environment and Sustainability in the 2014 World Cup – and one of the nine departments created by the ministries of Sports, Environment, Tourism and Agricultural Development.

    The other four Environment and Sustainability thematic centers are World Cup Parks; Waste and Recycling; Organic and Sustainable World Cup; and Climate Change.

    World Cup Parks

    With the World Cup Parks center, Brazil’s government intends to improve the infrastructure of the country’s parks and reserves located near the host cities.

    Investments include the creation of trails, explanatory signage and the construction of visitor centers and overlooks, as well as inns and hotels within or near the reserves and parks.

    To make this possible, the government is seeking partners from the private sector, who will be responsible for the buildings and park operations through government concessions.

    And the need for investments goes beyond the parks and reserves.

    “In order to get to these places, quality roads must be built, and many others need improvements,” Langone says. “We have to guarantee inns and restaurants for those tourists who are going to spend the night in the surrounding cities. Generally, they’re very small and can’t handle demand on a large scale.”

    The environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, says that parks are an essential part of making visitors feel more welcomed.

    “Brazil is very large and each region is completely different from the next,” she says. “A German family, for example, who comes to Brazil to see a game in Manaus, in the northern state of Amazonas, and then watches another match in southern Rio Grande do Sul, might be surprised by the difference.”

    The parks would show Brazil’s biodiversity and would be neutral areas where tourists could familiarize themselves with each city, Teixeira says.

    Waste and Recycling

    With the Waste and Recycling center, the government aims to minimize the generation of waste, and to promote selective waste collection by encouraging the social inclusion of waste pickers.

    “We’re going to use this opportunity to strengthen our National Solid Waste Policy,” Teixeira says.

    The policy, which came into effect in August 2010, foresees the creation of municipal Waste Master Plans by the end of 2012 and the eradication of landfills by the end of 2014.

    Organic and Sustainable World Cup

    The Organic and Sustainable World Cup center will expand business opportunities for organic and sustainable products.

    “The idea is to organize a supply chain so that these products reach the major chains of hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, etc.,” says Ming Liu, from Organic Brasil, a program that brings together about 70 organic companies. She is also one of the private sector representatives to the Thematic Chamber for the Environment and Sustainability in the 2014 World Cup.

    Officials say the goal is for restaurants and hotels in the host cities to include at least one of these products on their menus.

    “Currently, the demand for organic products exceeds the production,” says Priscila Terrazzan, coordinator of the Portal Orgânico project, which offers services and information about organic foods.

    Producers are still unprepared to handle high demands, Liu says.

    “The majority of producers are small, family farms,” Liu adds. “The sector could be strengthened by bringing these people together under a cooperative, for example.”

    With the incentive for organic production for the 2014 World Cup, the goal is for these products to gain more traction in the domestic market once the competition is over, Langone says.

    “That will also lead to a drop in prices,” he adds.

    Currently, organics are between 20% and 30% more expensive than conventional produce, according to Liu.

    Climate Change

    The Climate Change center wants to minimize and offset the emission of greenhouse gases. Among other measures, the 12 host cities are going to invest in alternative fuels for the buses used by the delegations. Special bus corridors and new forms of rail transport are also being created.

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