Russian Stadium Energy and Sustainability

Drew Skundrich
December 3, 2016

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2016


Fig. 1: Concept of Luzhniki stadium that has to be reconstructed into a modern look. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In recent years, FIFA has become the world's first international sports organization to join a UN climate initiative. In 2014, we were introduced to the first-ever solar powered World Cup stadium. The Brazilian stadium, Mineirão, was powered by 6,000 solar panels and had the potential to power 1,200 households. The energy created from the panels was unable to be fully stored so much that just a small percentage of the generated energy went to powering Mineirão, and the other saved energy was transferred to consumers. [1] The success of this stadium along with the green movement have encouraged Russia to accept the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method's (BREEAM) environmental standards for construction. Russia is planning on using 12 stadiums for the 2018 World Cup, and of these 12, 5 have received interim certification of passing those standards. [2] There are plans for each arena that vary based on location, but all of them show promising figures for future sustainability and efficiency. However, with all of the infrastructure, changes, and reliability of current situations in Russia, the truth of whether or not these stadiums will be efficient is somewhat of a mystery.

Energy and Efficiency of the Stadiums

The location of the stadiums is important for their development as temperature changes and geographical barriers need to be accounted for. Some of them are located next to water sources, so flood barriers are being built along with waste removal and drainage systems so no contamination occurs. Stadiums in and around urban green complexes need to have several plants and trees protected and replaced to maintain the standards originally placed before them. Overall, these stadiums are attempting to reduce energy consumption significantly compared to similar stadiums across the world, which will hopefully educate the public on environmental sustainability. [3]

There are many details that go into constructing an environmentally friendly stadium including lighting, water, materials, accessibility, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and heating systems. Natural lighting strategies will be optimized during the day by having translucent materials and open roofs. Metal-halide lamps will be used for stadium lights, which are the only stadium lights that meet the standards for energy efficiency and brightness for playing. High efficiency LED lights will be used outside and in offices/rooms in the stadium. The use of water-saving plumbing systems with sensors and water flow shut-off systems, dual-mode device flush toilets, individual automatic flushing urinals, and the separation of technical and drinking water systems contribute to saving more water. The stadiums also plan to have systems that collect rainwater for watering the fields. Figure 1 shows what one of these stadiums may look like when completed.

Construction materials consist of energy efficient and environmentally friendly insulating materials from resources that are mainly found in Russia so that importing does not generate more GHGs. Accessibility of the stadiums is increasing due to the development of more parking spaces for private cars, a public transportation system for spectators that goes no further than 500 meters from the stadium to reduce GHG emissions, and new subway, railroad, and highway systems to allow easier routes of transportation between cities. Heating and air conditioning strategies include thermal insulation of the stadiums, the use of sun protection/shading systems and louvers in the office areas of a stadium, and heat recovery of exhaust air in air-handling units of the building, which utilizes highly efficient heat exchangers. The current GHG emission calculation demonstrates that the estimated concentration of polluting substances emitted at the construction sites does not exceed the maximum allowable concentrations just yet. [2]

Cost of Investment

A budget that was calculated in previous years showed that the cost for all renovations and construction of the stadiums will be around $3.82 billion. [4] Along with the costs of the stadiums, the country as a whole needs to prepare for hosting a World Cup, which comes with extra charges that may go unseen. Construction includes 2,000 paid workers at just one stadium with expensive equipment like large cranes. This is all in an effort to accommodate top of the line technology that can be used for soccer specific camera angles. [5] Officials of host cities submitted projects to be developed under preparation for the tournament with a total value of about $43 billion, half from government and half from private investors. Investors have to consider how new facilities will be used after the tournament, as the occupancy rate in many host cities is currently far from levels that encourage the development of new projects to accommodate visiting fans. Because of this, Russian government and investors are set to pay billions of dollars for highway, high-speed railroad, and airport development. The blueprints for the 2018 World Cup have been established for efficiency, sustainability, and BREEAM standards, but only time will tell if these stadiums will be energy and cost efficient in the long-run.

© Drew Skundrich. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] A. McIntosh, Towns and Cities: Competing for Survival (Taylor and Francis, 1997).

[2] "More Sustainable Stadiums," The Russian Green Building Council, 2015.

[3] H. Preuss, "The Contribution of the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games to Green Economy," Sustainability 5, 3581 (2013).

[4] M. de Nooij, M. van den Berg, and C. Koopmans, "Bread or Games?: A Social Cost-Benefit Analysis of the World Cup Bid of the Netherlands and the Winning Russian Bid," Journal of Sports Economics 14, 521 (2013).

[5] S. Borden, "Russia's World Cup Stadium Rises, Matryoshka Style," New York Times, 1 Jul 16.