Gloucestershire-based football club Forest Green Rovers (FGR) is dedicated to becoming the most sustainable football club in the world.
Football and sustainability have – in the past – been regarded as incompatible as maintaining pitches and stadiums often requires vast amounts of energy, water and raw materials.
The FGR, however, seek to change this interpretation, implementing the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) qualification – the gold standard in environmental performance – at the club’s around 5,000 seat stadium called the New Lawn, to measure those impacts and target them for reduction.
In addition, the club has introduced a series of initiatives to reduce the impacts of their activities on the environment, including:
- Irrigating the pitch with a mixture of rain, drain and spring water in order to make the pitch independent from the water mains.
- Creating an organic pitch through prohibiting the use of pesticides and manmade chemicals.
- Protecting the surrounding area through developing habitats to foster biodiversity.
- Sourcing low energy floodlights as LED lighting is considered too energy intensive.
- Installing solar panels on the roof and also ground-mounted solar powered car ports at The New Lawn which are visible to all fans entering and leaving the stadium, further cementing the greenness of the club among the fan base as well as reducing the club’s carbon footprint.
- Providing electric vehicle (EV) charge points to make it easier for players and visitors to use electric vehicles.
- Promoting healthier food for players, staff and fans, using increasing percentages of local and organic ingredients as well as banning the sale of meat at the venue.
The club is also creating an eco-education centre at the New Lawn which will highlight the club’s eco-message, raising awareness about the importance of sustainability and empowering people with demonstration and information, to change their own lives.
Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity – the world’s first Green Electricity company – and Chairman of FGR, reportedly said: “We’re building a football club that’s both environmentally and financially sustainable. We got involved for two reasons – social and environmental. The club is a big part of the local community, with a rich tradition, and it needed rescuing. For us, it was an investment in the local community. Secondly, the club offered an opportunity to take our sustainable message to a new audience – a large and passionate new audience largely unaccustomed to dealing with sustainability issues.”