Critics claim Qatar’s sustainable 2022 stadium is just ‘PR’ by Nikolaus J. Kurmayer of EURACTIV.de would not be a slightly out of control criticism but a serious snapshot of our life of today. This can be summarised in a few words such as: should we build more and more of these sports infrastructure.
As Football comes under pressure to go carbon neutral, one major source of emissions remains the stadiums that need to be built for every world cup, something Qatar seeks to address. But critics remain unconvinced that supposedly sustainable stadiums are enough to tackle the issue.
A big part of the 3.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas equivalent emissions associated with the 2022 Qatar world cup counted by FIFA stems from what the report describes as “permanent construction of venues”.
Some 639,482 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions would be emitted during the preparatory phase of the world cup during venue construction, FIFA notes.
As a result, Qatar proudly presented stadium 974 to the world on 26 November. Made from recycled shipping containers, the stadium is named after the number of containers used and its Qatari area code.
The design, based on prefabricated modular elements, reduced the waste generated during production and on-site during construction, say the owners.
The use of modular elements also reduced the venue’s construction duration, they added.
Considering the 6,500 deaths of migrant workers in Qatar since the country won its bid to host the world championship in 2010, as reported by the Guardian in February 2021, speeding up construction may be conducive to preventing more deaths.
According to the organiser, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), 34 migrant workers died on World Cup construction sites during the aforementioned period.
The committee says it is transparent about these figures and doubts other “misleading” reports on the number of deaths.
The greenwashing issue
Aside from the human rights concerns and the deaths of primarily Pakistani migrant workers, environmental activists are also concerned that the new stadium may be one big greenwashing exercise.
The stadium, built from recycled materials and will be dismantled at the end of the world cup, boasts a modular design, allowing it to be disassembled and turned into multiple smaller stadiums or scraped easily.
“If you look at all the criticism for all of the big stadiums created around the world — and nobody uses them later on — this is, well, it’s useful,” Zeina Khalil Hajj, of 350, a global climate protection NGO, told Deutsche Welle.
Yet, the innovative sea-side stadium, which can forego cooling due to its construction and location, is just one of eight massive stadiums Qatar built for the 2022 world cup.
“It doesn’t mean they are the biggest culprit in the world. It just means that they have a duty,” Hajj told DW. “They have a responsibility as a rich nation. They have to contribute. And that means they have to change their domestic consumption pattern.”
Residents of Qatar have some of the largest per capita carbon footprints due to their oil-based economy in a relatively inhospitable environment necessitating artificial cooling.
Instead of tackling the systemic challenges to their society, “What they’re doing instead is all this ‘PR machine’,” added Haji.
Despite all the smart design the Qatari SC employs to cut emissions and make the world cup as carbon-neutral as possible, critics are worried about their reliance on carbon offsets.
To achieve the SC’s pledge “to measure, mitigate and offset all FIFA World Cup 2022 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions” will ultimately require a massive amount of so-called carbon offsets, as a majority of emissions from air travel and venue construction are challenging to abate.
Offsetting “unavoidable emissions” by planting a million trees, as Qatar has pledged, rather than using solar power or wind energy to cool stadiums is not what Phillip Sommer, of environmental action Germany, would call sustainable, he told DW.
Neither organisers like the SC nor “FIFA should therefore not rely on offsets, but on direct investments in solar or wind power, and tie conditions for venues to the climate footprint of member countries,” Michael Bloss, Greens EU lawmaker, told EURACTIV.
Hosting the World Cup is what many countries dream of, but hosting does not come without its drawbacks. It is a very costly event with no guarantees on economic return.
Any country that hosts the World Cup must meet strict infrastructure requirements, amongst many other standards required by all. These minimum requirements include criteria for all infrastructures, stadiums, hotels, transit, and communications and electrical grids. Despite all that is allowed by the accumulated petrodollars, fans could face accommodation shortages.
For that, Qatar will make a newly built and yet to be completed City in the Desert available for the event. Meanwhile, here is another aspect of the fothcoming tournament.
World Cup 2022: if Qatar can silence critics with a strong tournament, an Olympic bid could be next
The above image is for illustration and is of beIN SPORTS.
When FIFA picked Qatar as the first Middle Eastern country to host the men’s football World Cup in 2022, some considered it a bold gamble. Others thought it was a mistake – including former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Whether these issues will ultimately dissuade supporters from travelling to Qatar in late 2022 remains to be seen. The organisers will certainly not want a repeat of what happened when Qatar hosted the IAAF World Athletics Championships of 2019, which took place in half empty stadia.
Football has more global appeal than athletics, of course, and so far both Qatar and FIFA remain bullish that millions of fans will travel to the Gulf from all over the world. The event is certainly “unique” in sport event terms and that may drive fan interest. No expense has been spared by Qatar to deliver this unique experience, that is for sure. They have certainly spent big in the lead up to the tournament.
Even as early as 2010, estimates of the total cost for Qatar were in the region of US$65 billion (£48 billion) – a different level to the then record-breaking US$14 billion which Russia spent hosting the tournament in 2018. More recent reports, however, cite costs closer to US$300 billion.
The reason for such staggering sums is not just grandeur. The actual stadium costs, at around US$10 billion, are low in relation to the overall estimated total. The bulk of the money has been spent on infrastructure and transport projects in the country. Some of these were planned anyway, with the forthcoming tournament merely accelerating developments.
There is also a bigger picture at play here. In many ways, it has never been about the money for Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world.
The primary gains Qatar is seeking are non-commercial, with international relations at their heart, and and an opportunity to introduce itself to billions of people across the world. This has led to accusations of “sportswashing”. This can be defined as using sporting events as a way of seeking legitimacy or improving reputations and has been used in the context of Qatar 2022 given the controversies cited above.
Despite the negative press, Qatar will be encouraged by its latest foray into major international sporting events, including the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in Formula One. The race was the first of a three-part Middle-East finale to the F1 season which also includes races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. This could help place Qatar on a comparable level to its Arab neighbours in another very marketable sport.
Events like these, alongside the 2022 men’s World Cup, are designed to provide a legacy both socially and culturally – a legacy which creates national identity and places Qatar as a legitimate actor on the world stage.
Yet although money may be no object to the hosts, one organisation hoping to make some is FIFA. Their entire business model is geared around a successful World Cup. Russia 2018 helped FIFA to generate record revenues of US$6.4 billion, much of which is spent on “education and development”, and it will be hoping for similar takings from Qatar 2022. In the same way, FIFA’s (widely condemned) proposals to hold the tournament every two years are largely driven by the desire for more income.
So while the goals for Qatar and FIFA are different, both parties need the rest of the world to play ball. It’s worth bearing in mind that to make this happen, the majority of men’s domestic professional football leagues have altered their schedules to allow the 2022 competition to be staged, for the first time ever, in the months of November and December.
If the timing works, and Qatar’s non-commercial plans are achieved, it will then surely aim to become a regular major player in the sports event hosting market – so expect to see a bid to host a future Olympic Games. Money again here will be no object. Qatar will no doubt put on a show for the World Cup. A show that it hopes the rest of the world will be watching.
A new research report released by Siemens Smart Infrastructure, titled ‘A New Space Race,’ has highlighted the increasingly urgent need to transform global infrastructure to focus on adaptability, resiliency and decarbonisation. Data from the report claims infrastructure leaders worldwide recognise the need for digitalisation to tackle challenges in energy systems and the built environment.
“Infrastructure stakeholders are starting to act with real urgency. They recognise the need to accelerate decarbonisation, to build greater resilience and adaptability, while maintaining competitiveness,” said Matthias Rebellius, CEO, Siemens Smart Infrastructure. “Major change is challenging, but our highest goals are possible if we harness the power of data and new technologies, welcome greater cooperation and keep driving innovation.”
Based on interviews with 500 senior managers from a range of infrastructure disciplines in 10 countries, the report highlights changing priorities in a post-pandemic world. Among its findings is an increasing focus on the role of infrastructure in driving a digitalised energy transition, reducing carbon emissions, enabling future working models, and its potential to play a more active role in the health and wellbeing of people.
Digitalisation as an enabler for decarbonising infrastructure
The report suggests a significant rise in the number of organisations setting low-carbon or net-zero targets, and most respondents are optimistic about these goals, with the majority (94 percent) expecting their organisations to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“Buildings will be a lot more digital in the future”
67 percent of energy infrastructure stakeholders believe that net zero energy is impossible without digitalisation, with AI-driven prediction and automation considered to have the biggest impact on infrastructure assets, projects, and investments over the next five years.
However, the majority (63 percent) of infrastructure stakeholders believe the digitalisation of buildings and power networks is lagging behind digital progress in other industries. Only 31 percent of those questioned said they make full use of the data available to them, with almost half reporting they have not yet done so.
Future adaptability is the most important requirement for buildings
In addition to the impact of infrastructure on the environment, the report also highlights the changing needs and expectations of people in their buildings, factories, facilities, offices, homes and surrounding infrastructure. It claims that for many, adaptability is considered the most critical factor when designing a new building or facility, to allow the re-purposing of spaces to suit changing occupants. Not only was this considered the most important thing to get right; it was also considered the most difficult.
“Buildings will be a lot more digital in the future,” said Rebellius. “A facility manager will not only be able to automate, and remotely control more functionality, they will also benefit from a wider network of better sensors that flow into integrated visualisations and richer datasets. This will support a new level of fine-grained control and insights that are needed to make future buildings more resilient and flexible.”
Designs for a green skyscraper that could remove up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere on an annual basis — the equivalent to growing 48,500 trees — was unveiled at the COP26 conference last week.
Named for the world’s tallest trees, the ‘Urban Sequoia’ design is the brainchild of the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is based on technologies that are all available for use today.
Each high-rise would employ multiple approaches to sequester carbon, including construction with carbon-absorbing materials, growth of plants and algae (for fuel, energy and food), and direct air capture technology.
The latter would be aided by the tower design’s ‘stack effect’, which would help draw in air to the centre of the building for processing a carbon extraction — while contributing to the building’s net zero energy system.
In fact, the company has claimed, their Urban Sequoia tower design would be capable, assuming a lifespan of at least 60 years, to absorb up to 4 times the carbon released in the atmosphere as a result of its construction.
Captured carbon could be used to produce biomaterials for roads, pavement, pipes and other items for developing urban infrastructure.
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Designs for a green skyscraper that could remove up to 1,000 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere on an annual basis — the equivalent to growing 48,500 trees — was unveiled at the COP26 conference last week Pictured: a city of Urban Sequoias
Each high-rise would employ multiple approaches to sequester carbon , including construction with carbon-absorbing materials, growth of plants and algae (for fuel, energy and food), and direct air capture technology — as depicted
‘We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighbourhood — feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally, with surplus distributed more widely,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s senior associate principal Mina Hasman. She added: ‘If every city around the world built Urban Sequoias, the built environment could remove up to 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year’ Pictured: modern-day Laos, left, with the firm’s vision of a greener city, right
CONSTRUCTION’S CARBON FOOTPRINT
According to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, ‘the need to transform the built environment is clear.’
Construction presently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of all global carbon emissions — a figure that could easily rise in the future without alternative approaches.
In fact, experts have predicted that, come 2060, an extra 230 billion square meters of building stock will be required in the world’s urban centres.
This, the architecture firm, is where Urban Sequoia comes in — allowing the built environment to turn buildings in to solutions, rather than problems, in the growing climate crisis.
‘This is a pathway to a more sustainable future that is accessible today. Imagine a world where a building helps to heal the planet,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner, Kent Jackson.
‘We developed our idea so that it could be applied and adapted to meet the needs of any city in the world, with the potential for positive impact at any building scale.’
‘The power of this idea is how achievable it is,’ agreed Skidmore, Owings & Merrill principal Yasemin Kologlu.
‘Our proposal brings together new design ideas with nature-based solutions, emerging and current carbon absorption technologies and integrates them in ways not done before in the built environment.’
While Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s prototype design is a skyscraper that can sequester up to 1,000 tons of carbon on an annual basis, the carbon capture approaches it uses might be applied to buildings of all types and sizes.
By constructing buildings from materials like bio-brick, biocrete, hempcrete and timber — all of which use less carbon than alternatives, and some of which continue to adsorb carbon over time — it is possible to reduce the carbon impact of construction by 50 per cent as compared to using concrete and steel.
‘A progressive approach could reduce construction emissions by 95 per cent,’ the firm added.
‘We are quickly evolving beyond the idea of being carbon neutral. The time has passed to talk about neutrality,’ elaborated Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner Chris Cooper.
‘Our proposal for Urban Sequoia — and ultimately entire “forests” of Sequoias — makes buildings, and therefore our cities, part of the solution by designing them to sequester carbon, changing the course of climate change.’
According to the firm, up to 120 tons of carbon could be sequestered per square kilometre (46 tons per square mile) if urban hardscapes were converted into gardens, cities were re-built as intense carbon-absorbing landscapes and streets were retrofitted with additional carbon-capture technologies.
Furthermore, they suggested, this figure could be nearly tripled if these strategies were also applied in parks and other green spaces.
Named for the world’s tallest trees, the ‘Urban Sequoia’ design is the brainchild of the Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and is based on technologies that are all available for use today. Depicted: an illustration of how the tower’s design would allow it to take it carbon dioxide for storage or usage, while also producing products like biofuel
The tower design’s ‘stack effect’ would help draw in air to the centre of the building for processing a carbon extraction — while contributing to the building’s net zero energy system. Pictured: an artist’s impression of the ‘Urban Sequoia’ concept
‘We are quickly evolving beyond the idea of being carbon neutral. The time has passed to talk about neutrality,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partner Chris Cooper. ‘Our proposal for Urban Sequoia — and ultimately entire “forests” of Sequoias — makes buildings, and therefore our cities, part of the solution by designing them to sequester carbon’
‘If the Urban Sequoia became the baseline for new buildings, we could realign our industry to become the driving force in the fight against climate change,’ said Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s senior associate principal Mina Hasman — a nod to how construction presently accounts for nearly 40 per cent of all global carbon emissions.
‘We envision a future in which the first Urban Sequoia will inspire the architecture of an entire neighbourhood — feeding into the city ecosystem to capture and repurpose carbon to be used locally, with surplus distributed more widely,’ Ms Hasman continued.
‘If every city around the world built Urban Sequoias, the built environment could remove up to 1.6 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year.
With immediate focus and investment in SOM’s prototype, we can start this process now and build the first Urban Sequoia,’ she concluded.
The Urban Sequoia concept was presented by Mr Jackson and Ms Hason in COP26’s Blue Zone on Thursday.
While Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s prototype design is a skyscraper that can sequester up to 1,000 tons of carbon on an annual basis, the carbon capture approaches it uses might be applied to buildings of all types and sizes. Pictured: two architectural cross-sections of the high-rise design, showing how each floor integrates air capture and algae systems
By constructing the buildings from materials like bio-brick, biocrete, hempcrete and timber — all of which use less carbon that conventional alternatives, and some of which continue to adsorb carbon over time — it is possible to reduce the carbon impact of construction by 50 per cent as compared to the use of concrete and steel. Pictured: two architectural cross-sections of the high-rise design, showing how each floor integrates air capture and algae systems
RESEARCHERS USE ‘ARTIFICIAL’ TREES CLEAN THE AIR IN CITIES
By keeping mosses in a container, such as those built by CityTrees, the conditions can be carefully controlled to ensure the plant is always thriving and therefore performing at optimum air filtration
CityTrees – also known as artificial trees – use living plants and different types of mosses to capture toxins and remove pollutants from the surrounding environment to produce clean air.
Mosses, despite being a more primitive lifeform than most trees and flowers, conduct photosynthesis.
This allows them to soak up carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere and produce oxygen.
They can also harbour friendly bacteria which further helps trap pollutants.
By keeping mosses in a container, such as those built by CityTrees, the conditions can be carefully controlled to ensure the plant is always thriving and therefore performing at optimum air filtration.
Each self-sustaining CityTree contains a water tank, irrigation systems and sensors to monitor plant growth and ensure they are healthy. The technology is powered by a combination of on-board solar panels and internal batteries.
Each CityTree which has the pollution-reduction benefits of 275 normal trees.
Similar structures have previously been employed in other cities — including Berlin and Hong Kong — along with temporary trials across London.
Plants also help soak up air pollutants directly. Studies have found that the worst offending air pollution for human health is PM2.5 or airborne fine particulate matter.
These particulates are dangerous because they can get deep into your lungs, or even pass into your bloodstream.
Particulates are found in higher concentrations in urban areas, particularly along main roads.
One study from researchers at Beijing Forestry University in 2017 found ‘foliage acts as a bio-filter of air pollution and improves air quality due to the leaves’ rough texture and large contact area’.
But the issue with relying on regular trees and plants to filter the air and remove carbon dioxide and pollutants is that they themselves are highly dependent on the environment.
If they are not thriving due to disease, drought or vandalism, they will fail to clean the air effectively.
Mosses, despite being a more primitive lifeform than most trees and flowers, conduct photosynthesis. This allows them to soak up carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere and produce oxygen. Plants also directly soak up pollutants
BIM News published Shaping the built environment means shaping our world that is simply healthy placemaking. It means tackling all negative elements from bearing on or resulting from a built environment in any other way that is unpredictably harmful in any space of time.
Shaping the built environment means shaping our world
November 9, 2021
How buildings and structures influence the society and why digital solutions play a crucial role
What do the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Parthenon in Athens and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai have in common? They are iconic buildings, heritage sites and among the most visited places in the world.
The two towers of the World Trade Centre in New York are also on the list of iconic buildings. The images of the burning twin towers on 11 September 2001, have become indelible in our collective memory: no building symbolised Western capitalism and globalisation so vividly.
These four examples show that buildings are much more than piled-up stones, concrete, steel, wood or glass. They surround us permanently and determine our everyday life and our perception. However, only a few professional groups are usually involved in their design: architects, urban planners and engineers.
Digital solutions, open interfaces and true collaboration
Architecture in particular, which was already considered the “mother of all arts” in antiquity and was supposed to be based on the three principles of stability, utility and beauty.
Today, architects often take on the role of mediator – between the various trades before, during and after the construction process. But it is not only architects who are now looking at a changed role within the construction process; engineers, general contractors and suppliers are also expected to cooperate more – and coordinate with each other, especially as the complexity of projects rises.
Digital solutions, open interfaces and true collaboration are essential. With the help of software, models can be modelled, reviewed and revised more accurately and quickly. This leads to more information, more true collaboration and real value derived from a closer collaboration.
All stakeholders in the building lifecycle are spending more and more time as information managers and organising, structuring and interpreting this information.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are proving to be powerful tools to further maximise the value and potential of data and make timely decisions faster – with positive implications for the entire AEC/O industry.
Benefitting from innovative software
In the planning and design phase of buildings, architects and engineers are already benefitting from innovative software tools that help identify rule-based clashes between models, create accurate construction simulations and schedules, and increase the efficiency of the design phase.
During construction, project managers and site personnel need to make the best use of available resources. Combined with monitoring data from construction sites, patterns that lead to problems can be identified.
Project managers can take corrective action faster – even before problems become critical. Scheduling deliveries to the jobsite and procuring materials can be significantly improved through more efficient routing, loading and inventory management using AI.
While efficiency is the main driver for AI in the construction industry, there is now an increased focus on end-user requirements and the desire for more sustainable buildings. Once a project is complete, AI provides additional benefits throughout the facility’s operation.
Sophisticated building management systems that integrate information from internet-connected sensors and other data collection devices are quickly becoming commonplace.
Buildings that shape the world
Creating buildings that shape the world is quite a task and only in the last few decades have stakeholders been able to rely on digital solutions. Think of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, created more than 250 years ago. For its part, the “metal monster” was considered highly controversial – and ugly.
Today, the Eiffel Tower is the symbol of France, one of the city’s landmarks and one of the most visited buildings in the world; more than 250m people have visited the “metal monster” since its opening in 1889. The Eiffel Tower has managed to survive the debates about its shape – and today the fear that it would disfigure the cityscape seems almost absurd.
But sometimes it is the absence of buildings that brings different cultures and walks of life closer together. When two planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 and they collapsed as a result, it didn’t just hit the US; it shook the entire world.
An attack in the heart of the city that reflects globalisation, cultural diversity and international community like no other shook everyone around the globe. The two holes that the collapse tore in the skyline’s silhouette were not filled. Instead, an architect developed a remarkable place of remembrance – leveraging digital solutions that simulated the scenery.
Digital solutions today are an essential part of the creation, construction and management of buildings and structures. But the result is much more than the planned arrangement of materials. Buildings reflect our relationships with one another, and their basic requirements have remained unchanged over the decades. Buildings must assume a responsibility for us as a society that extends into the future and therefore goes hand-in-hand with the idea of sustainability – helping us shape our world.
Originally posted on books touched by Africa: Forget about 1984?Forget about George Orwell? Read 2084!Remember Boualem Sansal! Do you want to know what can happen later on in this century? Maybe during your lifetime? Or just a few years after your death? Read this fascinating novel by the Algerian writer Boualem Sansal. Let us travel…
Originally posted on Pandaemonium: Josephine Baker poster This essay, on Josephine Baker, Éric Zemmour and universalism in French politics, was my Observer column this week. It was published on 5 December 2021, under the headline “How can a country that hails Josephine Baker take the racist Zemmour seriously?” “How does it feel to be a white man?”…
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