Buro Happold sustainability solutions


Andrew Pottinger on Coliseum Europe Image: Andrew Pottinger & MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

Andrew Pottinger is a Director in the Buro Happold Sports and Entertainment community whose drive for people-centered design has led him to specialize in venues (both Engineering and Consultancy). He has played significant roles in many high profile projects, including the Etihad South Stand Expansion (Manchester), Louvre Abu Dhabi, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, O2 Arena (London), Coca-Cola Arena (Dubai), 3 Arena (Dublin), West End Stadium (Cincinnati), Co-op Live (Manchester), and the new Everton Stadium.

He enjoys collaborating directly with clients and operators to understand their specific aspirations and desired outcomes, and this led to the development of the Venue Performance Rating (VPR) philosophy and system which is all about Sports Science and how it has transformed the way in which clubs (and fans, and scouts, and agents) appraise players.

Buro Happold

Buro Happold is a British professional services firm that provides engineering, consultancy, design, planning, project management, and consulting services for buildings, infrastructure and the environment.

In a nutshell:

  • World-class global practice of engineers, consultants and advisers;
  • Integrated thinking and truly interdisciplinary;
  • Interconnected community of passionate experts; and
  • Creating transformative outcomes for clients and communities alike.


Climate catastrophe

Deforestation and rapid industrialization are majorly contributing to world getting caught in the vortex of climatic catastrophe. Punishing heat waves, colossal damages caused by floods, severe droughts and major storms are all increasing by the day and all this is human-induced. It is due to Man’s callous nature and scant regard for the environment that Mother Nature is today bleeding and striking back with a vengeance.

Sustainability first

Sustainability is at the heart of any project which Buro Happold takes up. Buro Happold believes that collective action is the best way to address the climate and biodiversity crisis:

  • Designing and creating environments that are sustainable and fair; and
  • Every engineer, consultant and advisor must put the environment at the heart of their work.

In an exclusive with ‘Coliseum’, Andy Pottinger, Director, Buro Happold, UK, stressed that sustainability within the built environment is key for any venue project. He also revealed how making venues net zero is the company’s topmost priority and if ‘Green Goals’ are followed, ‘tired’ venues will spring back to life.

Taking sustainability to the next level


How tired venues can be given a new lease of life

  • Energy independence;
  • Preserve rainforests;
  • Sustainability;
  • Green jobs;
  • Livable Cities;
  • Renewables;
  • Clean water, air; and
  • Healthy children.

Asserted Andy Pottinger, “If one expects that the venue is a place where he or she can come to soothe their frayed nerves, then every individual will have to be passionate about venues and give a new lease of life to tired venues.”

What is needed?

Informed decision-making in relation to:

  • Performance;
  • Cost;
  • Sustainability (including climate action); and
  • Time.

He added, “The sustainability factor was always there in venues but of late it has taken prime importance.”

Guiding questions


What are the reasons for setting sustainability related objectives?

  • To align with your values and beliefs?;
  • To enhance your brand and reputation?;
  • To lead by example?;
  • To align with national/international sustainable development goals?;
  • To help achieve planning permission?; and
  • To align with the standards being adopted by other leading clubs/operators/partners/sponsors?


Jumping on the sustainability bandwagon

Pottinger put in, “Why do organizations/projects set sustainability objectives? Is it to do with values? Is it to do with brands? It is very important to know the reason why the sustainability factor has become the core of every business.”

What really matters to stakeholders?

He added, “Buro Happold sat down and talked to the stakeholders about what they think is the most important achievement as regards sustainability. We spoke to people and partner representatives and asked them what do they want – what are the things most important to those people – the commercial aspect, design influence – what are the factors which they rate high and what are the factors which they rate low? At the end of the day, it is quite difficult to sum about. What we are trying to find out is what is on top priority and why it is so important to them. The sustainability factor is huge.”

Buro Happold carbon goals

  • Reduce embodied carbon intensity of all new buildings, major retrofits and infrastructure projects by 50 percent by 2030; and
  • Design of all new build projects to be net zero carbon in operation by 2030.


Whole Life Carbon

Whole Life-Cycle Carbon (WLC) emissions are the carbon emissions resulting from the materials, construction and the use of a building over its entire life, including its demolition and disposal.

Whole Life Carbon = Operational Carbon (Emissions from the operation of a building, eg; heating, power) + Embodied Carbon

Whole Life Carbon consists of operational carbon and embodied carbon.

In the building industry, embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of building materials. In contrast, operational carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions due to building energy consumption.

Steps in the right direction

  • Sustainability assessments such as BREEAM and LEED have put energy production and use firmly in the spotlight over the last 20 years;
  • Major reductions in operational carbon over the past 30+years; and
  • Embodied carbon now accounts for the larger share of carbon emissions in buildings.

Making a case for environmental justice for all, Pottinger averred that the need of the hour is to jump to action and simply holding meetings in this regard will not help. The focus should be on embodied carbon.

Decarbonizing the buildings, infrastructure and energy supply must be achieved in a manner that provides all communities equal access to affordable and clean energy.

The options we discuss with clients

  • New build
    • Efficient and designed to offer high social value
  • Expand and/or enhance
    • Minimize new construction but still achieve your goals
  • Creatively reuse
    • Think outside the box

Pottinger pointed out, “If you want a complete new built site, you will have to knock down all arenas and the new ones will have to be highly efficient, have high social values otherwise an entity can’t just say they are carbon-efficient.”

London 2012 Olympic Stadium

The 60,000-capacity London Stadium is a multipurpose outdoor stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the Stratford district of London, UK. It is located in the Lower Lea Valley, six miles East of Central London.

The Populous-designed London 2012 Olympic Stadium – the venue’s frame is made up of 1,000 tonnes of steel and is covered in 20,000 square meters of a recyclable white PVC fabric.

Buro Happold role

Buro Happold worked as part of the integrated design and construction team ‘Team Stadium’. Through collaboration and innovation the team created a simple dismountable superstructure with an innovative lightweight cable supported roof. Lifting the roof’s inner tension ring from its temporary scaffolding structure to its final position could not have been achieved without the ingenuity and integration of the whole team.

Budapest Athletics Stadium

The 36,000-capacity National Athletics Centre is a proposed track and field stadium in Budapest, Hungary. It’s expected to host the 2023 World Athletics Championships.

Buro Happold role

Buro Happold is playing a key role in the installation of the steel façade of the facility made of stretched cable structure.

He stated, “Sustainability is at the heart of any project plan of this arena.”

New Everton FC Stadium

The 52,888-capacity Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium is a proposed football stadium on the Bramley-Moore Dock in Vauxhall, Liverpool, England (UK), which will become the home ground of the Everton F.C. The dock itself was built in 1848. The stadium is proposed to be opened in time for the start of the 2023-2024 Premier League seasons, replacing Goodison Park.

Sustainability runs deep at Everton and since the design and pre-construction phase of the project, the stadium team has done much work to address important sustainability considerations.

Buro Happold role

Buro Happold has supported MEIS Architects in producing a design concept for Everton Football Club’s new home.

Pottinger informed that the Buro Happold integrated team is consulting on 17 disciplines for the construction of this landmark waterfront stadium, which will be the cornerstone of a transformative community initiative known as ‘The People’s Project’ – “The pivot will be on community, respecting heritage and the user experience.”

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is the home of Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur in North London (UK), replacing the club’s previous ground, White Hart Lane. With a seating capacity of 62,850, it is the third-largest football stadium in England and the largest club ground in London.

The team is leading the way in sustainability by reducing single use plastics, reducing waste and embracing clean and renewable energy, as well as supporting sustainable transport.

Buro Happold role

Buro Happold transformed this dedicated athletics venue into the world’s finest multipurpose sports and entertainment venue. By incorporating features such as substantial new spectator accommodation, movable seating and a modified bowl, the stadium is now capable of catering for over 20 different sports.

Buro Happold is the project’s building services engineers.

Stated Pottinger, “The 3,000-tonne retractable grass pitch enables the stadium to be used for a multitude of events like National Football League (NFL) fixtures. Two trays allow the pitch to slide out and allow the NFL to play. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been converted to a most purposeful stadium in the world.”

Being able to roll the pitch into a purpose-designed repository is fundamental to maximizing the building’s functionality. As well as allowing American football to be played there, it enables the stadium bowl to be easily converted into a venue for concerts and other events.


Pottinger feels that well-designed buildings and places can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of people “One can really use the components of the arena/stadium and change form and provide a kind of spring in the step of venues which are fast aging.

Andy Pottinger firmly believes that venue operators need to actively involve the communities, continuously enable and embed practices which foster a diverse and inclusive culture, the built environment should support people to feel great, help get the job done and enable businesses to thrive, and last but not the least, the urgency of climate action in terms of reducing emissions, the risks they face in a changing climate and the opportunities to unlock wider benefits through climate action.

Continue to follow Coliseum for latest updates on venues business news. Coliseum is dedicated towards building the best global community of sports and entertainment venue executives and professionals creating better and more profitable venues.

Become a member of the only Global Sports Venue Alliance and connect with stadiums, arenas and experts from around the world. Apply for membership at coliseum-online.com/alliance and make use of the 365Coliseum Business.

« Previous News:
» Next News:

Advertisement Coliseum Summit News Banner - SGL System
Advertisement Coliseum Summit news banner - NEXO