Forest Green Rovers
Forest Green Rovers FC (FGR) began life in the hamlet of Forest Green in October 1889, founded by the local non conformist church minister. In 1894 the club became founder members of the Mid Gloucestershire League – the first ‘socker’ league in the county outside Bristol.
Ecotricity became involved with Forest Green Rovers (FGR) in 2010, when the club ran into difficulties and soon set themselves the task of making FGR ‘the most sustainable football club in Britain, probably the world’.
Currently the longest serving member in the Blue Square Premier League, Rovers now aim to climb into the football league for the first time in their 123-year history.
FGR’s environmental objectives
1. To become a Zero Carbon club at our earliest opportunity
2. To reduce resource consumption across FGR, including energy and water
3. Work to reduce waste and emissions produced by FGR and maximise the recycling of waste from our operations
4. Reduce the environmental impact of grounds maintenance
5. Reduce the environmental impact of stadium management
Ambitious plans were put forward in 2002 to move the Club to a new Football League standard ground. Planning permission was granted in 2005, funded by the sale of the old ground for housing development and The New Lawn opened in 2006. Carrying on a tradition set by supporters back in the 1950s the new stadium was painted from head to toe by supporters all on a voluntary basis.
No environmental features were considered for The New Lawn, so making it truly sustainable now involves retro-fitting the stadium and grounds with eco technologies.
The 2.84 hectare site consists of admin offices, car parking for visitors and players, a pub and bars, catering facilities, conference and event facilities, a gym, player changing, stadium seating and corporate boxes.
It’s really exciting to be trialing these products, the robot saves me time and there’s no more dirty fuel or noise to deal with. The time I used to spend mowing can now be utilised tending to the pitch in other ways to make it the best possible surface for the players."
Because we know that running a club results in unavoidable impacts on the environment, we’ve worked hard to gain Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) qualification – the gold standard for environmental performance – and we’re chuffed to bits.
Our ultimate aim is to become a zero carbon club, so we’ll set ourselves ambitious targets within our EMAS to continually improve our environmental performance, reduce our pollution and waste, improve our resource use and ensure that we comply with environmental regulations.
We’ve started to retrofit a wide range of eco technologies throughout the ground – including solar panels on our stadium roof. And we’ve implemented some sustainable practices – our pitch is going organic and we’re home to Britain’s first meat-free and environmentally-sustainable menu for football fans.
- The pitch is going organic. No pesticides or manmade chemicals are being used and we’re keen to develop an approach to the certification of organic sports pitches. This would be a world first.
- We were working on an LED floodlight – but the technology is still too energy intensive. So we're looking into options for low energy floodlights. Watch this space.
- We've installed solar PV panels along the roof to power our stadium (similar to those fitted onto many people's rooftops). All 170 Mitsubishi photo voltaic panels are installed on the south-facing roof of the eesi stand, with a capacity of 45kW.
- We collect water from under our pitch to irrigate the pitch in dry weather. Next we’ll look at how to collect rainwater from the stadium roof and the possibility of sinking a borehole to collect local groundwater. Then our pitch will be irrigated by a mixture of rain, drain and spring water – making it independent from mains water.
- The players organised carpools – sharing lifts to and from training – that cut their carbon emissions straight away and more than halved their fuel costs.
- We’ve teamed up with Nissan, who have supplied us with eleven Nissan LEAFs, their 100% electric car, as part of a trial to cut our emission from travel. With players living in Birmingham, the Home Counties and around the West Country, we worked out that our playing squad could cover almost 10,000 each week travelling to and from training in Gloucestershire. Over the course of a season that adds up to almost 430,000 miles and generates more than 135,000 kg of CO2.
- The New Lawn has joined the Electric Highway – the world’s first national motorway charging network. And a fast charger has been fitted for the squad and members of the public to recharge for free. Powered by renewable energy – from the Wind and the Sun – it can re-charge a Nissan LEAF to 80 per cent in less than 30 minutes.
- All of our waste cooking oil is recycled into biofuel.
- We have a ground based solar system – with photovoltaic (PV) panels – near the ground entrance. It uses the same panels as our stadium roof and feeds power directly into our main building. Any excess goes straight onto the National Grid.
- The solar-powered MowBot runs on green sources of energy and uses GPS technology to automatically mow the pitch. This saves our groundsmen up to 50 per cent of their working week – it even sends them a text if it runs into trouble. The MowBot is ideal for other sports pitches, such as rugby and cricket too. And it’s helping us to create an organic pitch, by producing organic mulch that fertilises the pitch as it mows.
- Other grass cuttings are collected by a local farmer who uses them to improve his soil.
- We launched Britain’s first meat-free and environmentally sustainable menu for football fans. Offering locally sourced, predominantly vegetarian and eco-friendly food cuts down on food miles and supports local suppliers.
- We use phosphate free washing powder when we wash the team kit – and we wash it on a low temperature.
- We've just started a redecoration programme at FGR and we're using eco paints.