FC Porto stellar sustainability initiatives


Ricardo Carvalho at Coliseum Summit US 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Ricardo Carvalho set store by sustainability issues. He is the Facility Manager of the Portuguese professional sports club FC Porto, one of the oldest clubs in Europe.

He talks at length on the ‘Green’ management of the FC Porto home venue – the Estádio do Dragão in Porto, Portugal – and the club’s progressive strides towards sustainability and commitment towards the same.

Ricardo Carvalho has been with FC Porto since 2002. Carvalho also took the responsibility as the head of the ISO 9001/14001 certification of Estádio do Dragão in 2007 (first in the world for a stadium) – feather to his hat. Since 2013, he has held the position of the Director of FC Porto’s Facilities Department, which includes the Estádio do Dragão.

In an exclusive conversation with ‘Coliseum’, Ricardo Carvalho, Sports Facilities & Asset Manager, FC Porto, Portugal, talks about the ‘Green’ initiatives of FC Porto and the challenges involved in this environmental endeavor. Commitment on the part of the club’s top brass in the sustainability efforts has left a positive impact on the community on which the facility sits. He also asserts how energy as a resource is scarce and the ‘Energy Communities’ of the top-flight is contributing to its energy transition goals.

FC Porto

The FC Porto, or simply Porto, is a Portuguese professional sports club based in Porto, Portugal. It is best known for the professional football team playing in the Primeira Liga, the top flight of Portuguese football.

Estádio do Dragão

The Estádio do Dragão is an all-seater football stadium in Porto, Portugal, and the home ground of FC Porto since 2003. It has a seating capacity of 50,033, making it the third largest football stadium in Portugal.

Remarked Ricardo Carvalho, “The Estádio do Dragão completed 20 years on November 16th, 2023. It is a Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Category 4 stadium. It is a typical European stadium and we hold concerts, meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) events, more than 600 matches are held and we are bidding now for the World Cup 2030.”

Portugal is one of the host nations of the 2030 FIFA World Cup™ along with Spain and Morocco.

Carvalho pointed out that though the Estádio do Dragão “do not belong to the ilk of iconic venues like the 99,354-capacity Spotify Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain, or the 81,044-capacity Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid, Spain, but on environmental issues we are at the forefront. We were the first to apply for the European Southern Observatory (ESO) standards and in 2007, the Dragão was the first stadium in the world to receive the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards certification. Later in 2010, the European Club Association (ECA) awarded us vis-à-vis good environmental practices adopted.”

The ESO holds sustainability and diversity at the core of its organizational values.

‘Green’ Journey

He further narrated that the ESO standards has stood the club in good stead and has helped the top-flight to steer forward in its sustainability journey. Shared objectives and sync between the different departments has helped the club to maximize the impact of its sustainability initiatives.

Carvalho informed that FC Porto sticks to UEFA’s ‘Sustainable Infrastructure Guidelines’ which aims to raise the bar for European football venues. The top-notch club has implemented several sustainable initiatives like zero waste landfill, water harvesting and food waste reduction projects.

Energy Crisis

Carvalho further pointed out that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Europe went through severe energy crisis – “It is not just enough to boast futuristic stadia but we must also be able to embrace renewable energy in a world facing energy crisis due to the extraordinarily rapid economic rebound following the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. The FC Porto has embraced renewable energy sources, installing over 2,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels across its infrastructures. This initiative not only benefits the club but also shares surplus energy with the local community, marking a significant step towards energy sustainability.”

‘Energy Communities’

The overwhelming energy crisis led to the club setting up ‘Energy Communities’ to produce surplus energy – “We realized that the energy crisis also led us to minimize our venue operations which again have a negative impact on our coffers. This led to the setting up of ‘Energy Communities’. The electricity production mix allows us to clearly understand the operations running in our stadium and we have also been able to reduce 30 percent of our electricity consumption. The utilization of renewable energy will allow FC Porto to reduce CO2 emissions by 420 tons/year, equivalent to planting almost 20,000 trees and we as a club are very conscious that we leave minimum carbon footprints behind.”


Ricardo Carvalho summed up by stating, “Our sustainability success story and journey has been an uphill task and since Portugal faces severe water scarcity problems that has further compounded our ‘Green’ challenges. But due to the unstinted cooperation of the club’s top management and transparent communication we have come up trumps.”

FC Porto’s remarkable journey toward sustainability indeed offers valuable lessons for the broader sports community and the sports venue sector to emulate.

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