Brazil Hopes Massive Green Building Projects Create a Sustainable 2014 World Cup

Mané Garrincha National Stadium, 2014 World Cup, world cup, FIFA, Brazil, green building, Vicente Mello, Ian McKee, greening of the world cup, architecture, Brasilia
Mané Garrincha National Stadium, Brasília

Describing any massive construction project as “green” is a stretch, especially when it comes to sports facilities. But in football-mad Brazil, plans for a bevy of new and refurbished football stadia for the 2014 World Cup are well underway. It has been a messy sausage-making process for the most part; FIFA has tried to light a fire under the Brazilian World Cup organizing committee for failing to adhere to “European time.” But despite infighting within, outfighting with FIFA and fears Brazil’s infrastructure will not be able to handle the 500,000 tourists expected to visit the 12 host cities, Brazil is ready to showcase some impressive green building projects for next month’s Confederations Cup, the warm-up to next year’s mega football event.

Global heckling aside, Brazil will roll out impressive facilities that could both score international green building certifications such as LEED while adding to the country’s rich modern architecture legacy. Much of the credit for Brazil’s greening of the World Cup goes to Vicente Mello and Ian McKee, two architects who drafted the CopaVerde plan, which advocates for the most responsible construction practices possible for the event’s venues.

So what is sustainable about these World Cup venues? We focus on a few of the sites.

Brasília: Mané Garrincha National Stadium has hosted football matches since Brazil’s capital was a relative backwater in the mid-1970s. The next-generation edition of this stadium was built using salvaged materials from the original stadium on site. Solar power and rainwater harvesting systems will mitigate the facility’s resource consumption. And the roof’s photocatalytic membrane will not only keep fans cool, but neutralize pollutants at the equivalent of 1,000 cars daily. Surrounding wetlands have been restored, and reflecting pools will also serve as water reservoirs after rainy weather. Brasília has become known for its sprawl, but the stadium is within two miles of most of the city’s hotels–fans can cycle, more ambitious ones can walk and in the end, fewer commuting miles and the accompanying emissions will be among the stadium’s benefits.

2014 World Cup, world cup, FIFA, Brazil, green building, Vicente Mello, Ian McKee, greening of the world cup, architecture, Brasilia, Recife, Pernambuco, Pernambuco Arena
Recife’s Pernambuco Arena will seat over 46,000 fans

Recife: Just outside this northeastern Brazilian city is Pernambuco Arena, an example of how a stadium can anchor a mixed use development complex. The stadium will also have its own solar plant World Cup organizers claim will produce one megawatt of electricity. Plans for the surrounding site include residential housing, office buildings, a hotel and a university satellite campus. And in another effort to reduce transport miles, Pernambuco is located near major transport hubs.

Salvador da Bahia: Bahia has experienced an economic boom and Arena Fonte Nova (below) reflects the region’s resurgence. Modeled after Ajax Stadium in The Netherlands, the stadium’s membrane roof has 30 percent less steel than similar structures. Water harvesting and recycling systems mitigate Fonte Nova’s impact on the local water grid. Lead architects designed the 55,000-seat facility to eliminate sight lines while allowing maximum air ventilation for fans’ comfort. The stadium’s management is currently applying for LEED certification.

Learn more about CopaVerde’s initiatives here; Mello and McKee have also pushed for green building standards for Brazil’s airports, hotels and hospitals.

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable BrandsInhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).

[Image credits:, FIFA]

2014 World Cup, world cup, FIFA, Brazil, green building, Vicente Mello, Ian McKee, greening of the world cup, Salvador, Salvador da Bahia, Arena Fonte Nova
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador

Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010. He has lived across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Abu Dhabi and Uruguay. Some of Leon's work can also be found in The Guardian, Sustainable Brands and CleanTechnica. You can follow him on Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost).

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