Today is the start of the Rugby World Cup 2011. From all around the world, the greatest rugbying nations will descend on New Zealand to do battle. Among them, England, South Africa, Australia, Tonga, Japan and, this may come as a surprise to many of you, the USA. Yes, it seems the USA is truly embracing the sport and the team is determined to hold their own against the tournament favorites (England! Ok, fine… Australia). However, major sporting tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics generate large carbon footprints due to stadium construction, an increase in air travel and higher energy usage – so what is New Zealand doing to ensure this World Cup is as green as possible?

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Over 60,000 people (including yours truly) are expected to fly to New Zealand to enjoy the rugby and the government is doing everything they can do to minimize the environmental impact. In the cities that are hosting matches, everything is being done to make such waste, transport, energy, procurement, water, construction, communications and managing greenhouses gases is done as efficiently as possible.

To use Eden Park stadium in Auckland as an example, its development saw more than 70 percent of waste materials recycled and used. Even the doors have been put to good use, with 30 of them being sent to the Pacific islands for reuse.

The stadium is also set to see a 50% reduction in potable water use by harvesting rainwater from the roof areas and filtering stormwater through garden beds and soak holes. This will in turn be recycled onsite for irrigation.

Public transport is also expected to reduce increased greenhouse gases with a public transport hub launching increased and improved transport services during the RWC 2011 to cater to the increase in tourists.

Other stadiums, such as Stadium Christchurch, Stadium Taranaki and McLean Park, have announced energy savings programs and adopted energy efficient lighting, motion sensors and increased natural light indoors to save power.

Regional festivals are also being held to spread the environmental message. Assorted Kiwi festivals, such as WOMAD (a music, arts and dance festival) in Taranaki, have said they will divert 80% of their waste to compost or recycling areas.

Hopefully, all these measures will see New Zealand not only host the greenest world cup, but will make England’s victory all that more sweeter with reduced energy usage. That’s right – you heard! England for the win!

+ Official Rugby World Cup 2011