‘Small venues best serve sustainability goals’


Jon Scott-Kohli at Coliseum Europe 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Sustainability is an overarching issue today and since the world is hitting climate tipping points, companies must adopt aggressive climate action plan and it is no exception for the sports venue industry as Jon Scott-Kohli, Project Director of BDP Pattern, UK, asserted, “Sustainability is the most important issue facing the sports venue industry today.”

BDP Pattern is the sports and entertainment division of BDP, a global architecture and engineering practice with a network of studios across the United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA), Asia, North America, and Latin America.

Jon-Scott Kohli is an architect and urban designer passionate about achieving quality through rigorous process. His projects have a strong civic focus, characterized by complex geometry and unique technical challenges. He is a Director at BDP Pattern, having led projects in the United Kingdom, Qatar, Peru, Canada, and Ireland.

In an exclusive interaction with ‘Coliseum’, Jon Scott-Kohli, Project Director, BDP Pattern, UK, averred that huge, swanky stadia does not augur well as far as the sustainability quotient is concerned and it is only compact structures that will help reduce the carbon footprints in a world caught in the vortex of catastrophic climate changes and will also serve the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors best.

Sustainability Progress Update:

Jon Scott-Kohli started off by sounding a caution note that the world is “not doing well” in terms of being more sustainable.

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) latest report urges that rapid change is required to reach carbon neutrality; and
  • Global CO2 emissions have increased by 11 percent in the last decade and a third of those emissions come from the building industry.


Call to Action:

  • Accelerating efforts to become more carbon-neutral – changing regulations and changing client expectations.

As he put in, “What is sustainable today is not going to be considered sustainable tomorrow.”

Venue Industry Role

Scott-Kohli added, “Stadia and arenas are big buildings, therefore they must shoulder a bigger burden to reduce impact.”

Call to Action:

  • The venue operators and sports venue industry experts have a higher level of responsibility than operators of other building-types in other sectors; and
  • The size and scale of sports and entertainment projects means these hold a disproportionate share of environmental impact.


Sustainable Development Goals

Scott-Kohli further averred that “Sustainable buildings mean addressing a whole mosaic of interdependent aspects and to deliver on the same we need the engagement of the whole project team. We have to leverage the size, the scale, the complexity, and the reach of major sports and entertainment projects to achieve large-scale sustainable development.”

Environment, Social, Governance (ESG)

Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) is a framework designed to be embedded into an organization’s strategy that considers the needs and ways in which to generate value for all organizational stakeholders.

He observed that ESG is gaining popularity by the day and the need of the hour is to look at venue projects from the lens of ESG.

ESG Criteria

  • Impact on the natural environment;
  • Impact on society; and
  • Governance practices.


What might ESG look like in stadia and arenas?



  • Low embodied carbon;
  • Energy- and water-efficient;
  • Produces renewable energy;
  • Built of sustainable materials;
  • Manages waste; and
  • Designed for deconstruction.



  • Positive impact to community;
  • Workers treated well;
  • Local knowledge-sharing;
  • Social responsibility;
  • Supports local supply chain; and
  • Accessible and inclusive.



  • Transparent;
  • Accountable;
  • Ethical; and
  • Responsible management.

As Scott-Kohli puts in, “We would have projects that make meaningful social impact in their communities and how we do things will be equally important as what we are actually doing.”

BDP Pattern Portfolio of Projects


Lessons Learned


Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, UAE

The 22,717-capacity Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, is the home stadium of Al Ain FC of the UAE Pro-League.

Sustainability Initiatives:

  • Seventy four (74) percent of the waste was recycled during construction;
  • Energy savings stood at 22 percent; and
  • Water savings stood at 28 percent.


Challenging the brief:

Scott-Kohli informed that the bigger picture of the above project was to build it as small as possible to lessen the overall environmental impact and “we reached the conclusion that a smaller, passive cooling, well-ventilated stadium with high performance façades would have lesser impact on the environment.”

  • The seating bowl was made compact resulting in some of the enclosures for hospitality spaces being stripped away to provide a lot of open-air terraces and patios.


Experiencing a Distinct Place

He inferred that building smaller can drive a lot of environmental impact and the spectator experience is good.

Videna National Sports Centre in Lima, Peru

The BDP Pattern designed and delivered a masterplan for the 2019 PanAmerican and Para-pan American Games held in Lima.


  • Meeting tight deadlines – “From a blank piece of paper to the Games being hosted in 18 months.”
  • Using the existing velodrome track;
  • Simple, speedy construction systems that were locally available; and
  • The project had to be completed amid Peru being embroiled in national corruption concerns and through a Government-to-Government arrangement with the United Kingdom, British consultants managed the project and ensured that the client objectives including sustainability were followed.


Social Impact

  • The venue was built mainly for communities and training purposes and the facility just had enough to host the Games itself; and
  • The idea of competition and legacy use was quite strong.


Callao Multi-Sports Arena in Lima, Peru

The BDP Pattern took up this project in Callao (City in Peru) where a marginal community resided and “struggled with issues around poverty, drugs and gangs”.

The design practice was very well aware of the fact that “putting a 6,000-seat arena there, we would have to give something back to the community and the people that would be using it.”

The Roof without a Façade

Scott-Kohli and his team concluded that in Lima’s temperate climate, they would have to do away with the traditional building façade and use that material in an extended roof to provide shade, canopy against hot sun over a new public square.

Community First

The objective was to create a facility that would be used not just for sporting activities but a place where the local families and the young people would feel comfortable and feel at home coming to as he shared, “Of course, we didn’t have everything that we required to hold competition of a sport but now in legacy we have a naturally ventilated training site and a community facility.”

Lessons Learned

  • Social impact was a key focus of the project;
  • Due to tight deadlines, the design could not be optimized;
  • The structure was oversized and could have been a lot leaner if looming deadlines were not to be met; and
  • The program is very important to achieve sustainability objectives.


Everton Stadium

The BDP Pattern is using the Environmental, Social, and Governance ingredients together in the under-construction football stadium of the Premier League club Everton F.C. – the 52,888-capacity Everton Stadium at Bramley Moore-Dock in Liverpool (UK).

Sustainability Strategies:

  • Reuse of onsite materials;
  • Reuse of onsite renewable energy;
  • Better storage system; and
  • Rainwater storage.

The design studio’s architects are using “computational design to optimize the design into the fewest number of unique types which they can feed directly to the contractors to achieve design for fabrication and modern methods of construction. This is where parts of the building are built in factory conditions offsite and then shipped to site thus significantly reducing the transport emissions. This will allow us along with Buro Happold (world-class global practice of engineers, designers and advisers) engineers to deliver a stunning building in record time.”

Social Impact and Community Engagement

The social impact of the Everton Stadium is exemplary as it is acting as a catalyst for redevelopment along the water dockland and also into the legacy development part.

Value-led Framework

Scott-Kohli shared, “Buro Happold has devised a value-led framework that allows this project to realize opportunities that are unique to this brief and this site but that are entirely aligned with the club’s overall values around sustainability and the principles that the club is trying to achieve.”
Moving Forward

  • ESG can guide better decision-making; and
  • ESG assessment is data-driven.



He concluded by stating that whole-life carbon accounting is a part of BDP Pattern’s standard design process which is all assessed through their third-party ISO accreditation and they are reaching out to the building industry in this regard – “We are not going to solve these problems in isolation and to attain sustainability objectives collaboration across disciplines and across projects is key.”

Small is Beautiful

Jon-Scott Kohli and his team at BDP Pattern believes that ‘Small is indeed Beautiful’ and spiffy and swanky stadia will not help in reducing carbon footprints. In fact, a small-sized venue can best serve the purposes of the local community and meet the objectives of ESG in the real sense of the term.

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