Rugby World Cup 2015: Top 10 sustainability facts…

When thinking of rugby in all its grandeur and glory, you probably imagine 30 15-stone men crashing into each other creating hulking piles of mud and flesh. You probably don't imagine these men worrying about solar panels or leaving TVs on standby.

Yet, as the UK welcomes players from the Pacific isles, South America and Japan for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, people behind the scenes have been locked in an ongoing scrum to make the World Cup ‘the greenest yet’.

If you haven’t already caught rugby fever, this’ll sort you out. Here are 10 green facts you might not know about the 2015 Rugby World Cup…


1) New Zealand sets the benchmark for sustainability

New Zealand may have been ill-disciplined in their victory over Argentina but the All-Blacks are seemingly proving that they are champions both on and off the pitch. Construction of Eden Park for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand saw more than 70% of materials recycled as well as reducing water consumption by 50% across World Cup preparations. Take the stadium tour for yourself…


2) Rugby Football Union (RFU)’s carbon commitment is SIX YEARS in the making

Energy and climate change consultancy AEA have been working with the RFU since 2009 as part of the Mayor of London’s Green500 scheme to develop a specific carbon policy. The AEA have continued its partnership by overseeing Twickenham’s data collection as part of a Carbon Reduction Commitment report. The stadium aims to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions through these measures.


3) Twickenham will show you EXACTLY how much energy it’s saving

With 80,000 people flooding the gates of Twickenham on matchday, there’s little doubt that the ground will consume a lot of energy. In partnership with Schneider Electric, matchday-goers can now find out thanks to dashboards at the main entrance. It all forms part of a new energy drive which has seen LED lights installed and 250 monitoring points inserted around the ground collecting details on power quality, voltage, current and power factors at the ground.


4) 90 tonnes of CO2 have been saved at the Millennium Stadium

In 2010, the Welsh Rugby Union started a campaign to make the capital’s stadium the UK’s first certifiably sustainable stadium. By creating an evolving relationship with suppliers, the stadium removed 71.52 tonnes of waste from landfill and a consequent reduction of 28.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Additional savings of 60.8 tonnes of CO2 were also made from reduced raw materials use, water and energy use.


5) Opening games will lead to energy consumption equivalent to 200,000 kettles being switched on

Analysts at the National Grid are expecting a huge wave of energy increase to occur at half-time of the tournament’s major matches. England’s opener against Fiji, for example, saw an estimated energy surge of 500MW – the same as turning on 200,000 kettles. England’s matches with Wales and Australia are expected to draw a similar amount of energy during the intervals.


6) Tonga is the second most vulnerable country in the world when it comes to climate change

Off of the coast of New Zealand is an archipelago comprising of 177 islands. 103,000 people live on this island cluster known as Tonga. According to the 2013 World Risk Report, Tonga are second only to Vanuatu as the country most at risk from climate change. Surprisingly, Japan is ranked 15th with Samoa seemingly safe and sound at 120th.


7) … But Tonga would win the Rugby World Cup based on carbon emissions 

While Tonga isn’t expecting to put many points on the board at this World Cup, they can boast the proud achievement of not putting many points on the board in a different ranking. In regards to carbon emissions per capita, Tonga is the standout winners of the competing nations at 1 tonne per capita, while there is plenty of work to do for powerhouses Australia and the US emitting 17 and 16.5 tonnes per capita respectively.


8) Big changes are happening outside of Twickenham

There is a surprising lack of rugby union grounds being used as venues for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Yet, down at the Kingsholm stadium in Gloucester, plans are afoot to create “lasting legacy” of sustainable travel. To coincide with the World Cup, transport representatives are attempting to boost economic growth, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality and public health through a £1m grant, mainly aimed at encouraging public transport.


9) Stadiums are setting a new precedent for sustainable structures

With Twickenham and the Millennium stadium already covered, we turn to Wembley where 89,019 people watched New Zealand’s match with Argentina – a tournament record. Off the pitch, Wembley Stadium was placed in the top 5% of the CRC1 Performance League Table. Further down South, the AMEX stadium in Brighton became the first building of its kind in the UK to achieve BREEAM rating, saving nearly 18% on carbon expenditure from a combination of low and zero-carbon technologies.


10) Rugby is home to the most sustainable pitch in the UK

Allianz Park, home to the infamous Saracens, has been equipped with a bespoke pitch which will see water consumption fall by 100%. The pitch forms part of an overall goal to become the most sustainable ground in the UK, an idea which has been strengthened by meeting the requirements of the building Regulations 2010 Part L policy.

Matt Mace

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