500 Days Until Kick-off: Building a sustainable legacy in Qatar

6th July 2021
Shashi Narayanan
Senior Sustainability Manager

With 500 days until the Qatar welcomes the world, it is setting the global standard for how to build sustainably and blazing a trail for the delivery of green solutions in the sporting realm. This pinnacle tournament is also set to change the way future World Cup competitions and other sporting mega-events are planned, organised, hosted, and delivered.

Hosted by WSP Middle East’s Sustainability Associate, Shashi Narayanan, and featuring guest speaker Engineer Bodour Al-Meer, Sustainability Director at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, this Anticipate Podcast episode explores how Qatar is championing the sustainable legacy of the first ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East with a focus on the 2022 Sustainability Strategy and the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) process.

Shashi and Eng. Bodour also discuss how sustainability visions are being brought to reality at the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, alongside numerous other stadia sites as Doha completes preparations for the global sporting mega-event.

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WSP Middle East · 00 Days Until Kick-off: Building a sustainable legacy on the road to FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar™

Not able to listen? Here’s an overview of the discussion:

Eng. Bodour, could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your role as Sustainability Director at Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Legacy & Delivery?

“Thank you, Shashi. I am a Qatari engineer and I was born and raised here in Doha. I have seen the tremendous development of our country. I’m a mechanical engineer, I graduated from Qatar University. Previously, I worked as an environmental engineer in the oil and gas sector and then I moved to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, which is a government committee responsible for preparing the country to host the FIFA World Cup here next year.

“We are also responsible for making sure that the event will leave a positive legacy. I am leading the sustainability team of the Supreme Committee since 2015 and I’m responsible for the development and implementation of the host country delivery against the environmental component of the FIFA World Cup sustainability program. We have a great sustainability team that extends to our partners and FIFA and in their local organisation here called Qatar 2022, and throughout our supply chain, including people like you and the WSP team who are doing a great job delivering the vision on the ground.”

A Breakthrough Sustainability Strategy

Eng. Bodour: “This is the first time that FIFA partnered with the host nation to develop a detailed sustainability strategy. This allows us to look in detail at the preparation, the events and also at the legacy. This is so important for us all regularly receiving feedback from other event and other sports sustainability professionals suggesting that this is something new and good and something that will be followed by others in the future. We have really enjoyed the process of partnering with FIFA on this and the joint delivery and the close collaboration between the teams allows us to have a much wider reach and more positive impact.”

Shashi: “I’ve witnessed the Sustainable Strategy and it’s a very impressive document. It contains very clear requirements and a multi-faceted criteria which is actually being brought to life at the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium.”

Scoring Carbon Neutral Goals

Shashi: “There’s a lot of excitement around carbon neutral aspirations for the World Cup. Can you tell me how the stadiums contribute to this target? And what lasting legacy do you envision this having on the way buildings are created in the whole of Qatar?”

“This is something different, something special. Given it is prefabricated, I think that could be something that can be brought forward and inspire others. It is faster, it is cheaper and it is safer.”

Eng. Bodour: “I think all of our stadiums contribute to new ways of designing and building in the country and perhaps even in the region. We have pushed the boundary in many different ways, sustainability being one of them. For example, we set out to achieve four star GSAS certification, but have been able to push to five stars on several of our projects. With Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, this is something different, something special. Given it is prefabricated, I think that could be something that can be brought forward and inspire others. It is faster, it is cheaper and it is safer.”

“Carbon neutrality is one of the 22 focus areas and our sustainability strategy, and we have done a lot. For example, the World Cup will be solar powered, and an 800-megawatt solar power plant is currently under construction and will be able to supply more than enough power to run the official World Cup’s sites, or stadiums that will also deliver clean power to the grid for many, many years to come.

“Also, our public transportation will be a key operational aspect of the event. This transportation is largely electric, with the new state of the art Doha Metro, and new fleet of electric buses, some electric cars, and even some electrical scooters. All our new stadiums have been designed to meet the green building requirements of GSAS delivering 40% energy use reduction. We have also done very detailed greenhouse gas footprint analysis.

“Currently, together with FIFA, we are doing calculations together to better understand being a carbon neutral tournament we want to understand the real carbon benefits from the solution. So, we are doing some calculations together to really understand the impact on the carbon.”


Rethinking and Reducing Construction Waste

Shashi: One of the first things people associate with when discussing environmental sustainability issues is the handling of waste. The Supreme Committee recently released a study conducted with the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development. In what way has this unique publication changed the perception of how this important process is handled for the tournament?”

Eng. Bodour: “We set targets in our contracts to meet certain waste diversion rates during construction. We believe we have set a new benchmark in terms of construction waste, recycling, achieving average of 80% recycling rate across our entire program, and with some sites, over 90%.

“We wanted to share practical tips and case studies with others, so we partnered to prepare a document that explains what we did, and gives a lot of practical advice on how to achieve these results. Hopefully, many projects will beat the numbers that we achieved in the future. This document is based on case studies, and as well as best practices documented by sustainability managers working on the site. This is very valuable information… and is available free to anyone.”

“While the green building certification schemes like GSAS provide the guiding principles and tangible targets, achieving these certifications really allows us to focus on a common goal.”

A Roadmap to Green Building Certification

Shashi: “I myself have been supporting the delivery of the GSAS process for the Supreme Committee, making sure contractors comply with the stringent requirements and obligations of the certification. How do you think this sustainability certification has impacted the way stadiums are being delivered? In what way is this manifesting in terms of delivery for both building design and construction management?”

Eng. Bodour: “While the green building certification schemes like GSAS provide the guiding principles and tangible targets, achieving these certifications really allows us to focus on a common goal. One of the strategy objectives is to achieve GSAS certification for all of the stadiums. We are using three different research schemes to certify the design of the building and the construction process and the operations. Not only are the buildings efficient as a result of this program, but there is a whole new group of professionals specialising in green construction and design now they have benefited from our program as well as other large scale developments using green building certifications. This new knowledge is an important legacy of our program.”


Innovative Sustainability Features

Shashi: “The innovation that has gone into cooling the stadiums is quite profound. The existing available standards for air conditioning in sports facilities are all based on European and North American design standards, which would not work in the environments that we experienced in the Middle East. The engineers and scientists that have been examining this issue have had to define their own unique performance standards to provide thermally comfortable stadium environments.”

Shashi: “This next World Cup promises to set benchmarks that will act as a precedent for future global competitions. Can you share some of the key highlights related to the visible sustainability features of the 2022 stadiums?”

Eng. Bodour: “All of our stadiums are energy efficient, which is achieved through a combination of solutions such as good installations, super efficient equipment and sophisticated building controls. The LED lighting throughout, the big effort on tracking and the selection of the materials. We have also placed big emphasis on minimizing any impacts from the construction activities, waste recycling, dust and noise control.”


Creating a Lasting and Enduring Legacy

Shashi: “From an environment and sustainability perspective. How would you like the first ever FIFA World Cup in the Middle East to be remembered? What is the most important lasting and enduring legacy that you feel will be remembered for the host population of Qatar and the tournament visitors from all over the world?”

Eng. Bodour: “Well, of course I wanted to be remembered as an amazing event, as a game changer, as a once in a lifetime opportunity. I want it to be remembered as a supercharger for positive change as a goal scored for everyone.

Shashi: “It’s amazing to see the sustainability vision come to life as you mark 500 days to the 2022 World Cup. On behalf of WSP we’re proud to be part of the delivery of a tournament that is setting new standards for environmental sustainability and influencing the way future global events are held.

Eng. Bodour: “We are proud of the work that have been delivered so far and hopefully we can all enjoy the matches in 2022 and celebrating our success.”

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