Skip to main content

Green Goals: The sustainable future of UK football stadiums

In 2022 (11 years since their last update), FIFA produced a new set of guidelines for football stadiums (the Guidelines), which focus heavily on climate change (1.2), multi-use (1.7) and sustainability (2.7). The Guidelines take into account the environmental protection aspects of the design and initial construction sustainable football stadiums themselves.

Sustainable football stadiums

Sustainable football stadiums: some examples

Some of the case studies used by FIFA include:

  • Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar, which was adapted to incorporate a lighter-coloured façade, which resulted in a much more energy-efficient building;
  • Westhills Stadium in Canada, as constructed using 4,060 cubic metres of wood products, avoiding 1,370 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere through the specification of less sustainable materials; and
  • The Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa, Italy is now shared by Genoa C.F.C. and U.C. Sampdoria (and has two home ends and two visitor ends). As a result, the stadium has improved its social and economic sustainability by generating increased revenue and offer more employment opportunities.

Green Building Certification in Stadium Development

2.7 of the updated Guidelines encourages stadium developers to obtain a green building certification.

The most popular green building certification scheme in the UK is the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) certification. BREEAM assesses the sustainability performance of buildings across several categories, including energy efficiency, water usage, materials, and waste management.

Whilst obtaining BREEAM certification is not mandatory, in a positive move for sustainability many stadium projects in the UK have pursued this certification to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable construction and recognised sustainability standards.

What are the consequences of not complying with the Guidelines?

As it stands, the Guidelines are ‘best-practice only’ guidelines for the football community. FIFA is not able to assess their compatibility with every stadium project, and nor can it evaluate the circumstances of every project. This is therefore not a prescriptive set of requirements and regulations.

FIFA has advised that the Guidelines should act as a reference point, and that they will be encouraging confederations and member associations to use the Guidelines as a reference point when guiding and assessing stadium infrastructure matters.

Sustainability in construction contracts

With the updated Guidelines in mind, developers should consider how best to incorporate sustainability standards into their construction contracts. Recent and impending changes to the main construction contract forms now offers developer clients more option to incorporate sustainability obligations within their contracts.

The NEC published secondary Option X29 Climate Change in July 2022 for all NEC4 main and main subcontract forms. This was designed to help NEC users in their drive towards achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions and other related climate change and biodiversity targets.

The JCT does not currently have a specific climate change mechanism.  Supplemental Provisions 8 and 9 in the JCT 2016 suite of contracts encourage sustainability and positive climate change action but they are not mandatory.  However, it is strongly anticipated that the next publication of the JCT suite (which expected to be finalised in October 2024) will similarly include specific clauses relating to climate change.

There are also some sustainability provisions contained in the FIDIC suite of contracts and the IChemE main contract). This is discussed in more detail here.

What does this mean for future stadium development?

The Guidelines indicate a continued focus upon sustainable development for stadiums. With climate change and sustainability at the forefront of conversation globally now and for the long term, focus on sustainability is becoming an ever more important construction consideration.

Accordingly, developers should give serious thought to ensuring sustainability requirements are mandated in their construction contracts now and moving forward in order to future proof the stadiums and ensure alignment with the Guidelines.

Sustainable football stadiums: How can we help?

Walker Morris’ Construction & Engineering Team can:

  • Provide advice in relation to stadium development, with a focus on achieving the desired FIFA /specific construction contract standards; and
  • Advise on your construction contracts and the application and implementation on bespoke climate change/sustainability clauses in any potential stadium development;

Please get in touch with Carly Thorpe and Alex Jones if you have any queries or would like to know more about encouraging sustainability in stadium development.



Construction & Engineering

Carly's contact details

Email me




Construction & Engineering

Alex's contact details

Email me