Helping sports industry towards a more sustainable pitch management.
Allianz Arena have been on a quest to make sports sustainable long before the topic made the headlines. One of their next steps is to reduce energy consumption for pitch maintenance, specifically the grow lighting system that is needed to keep the grass growing year round. We have been a turfgrass technology supplier to the Allianz Arena for almost 15 years and recently developed a new smart LED grow lighting system, the LED440, to allow for optimal climate control with up to 40% energy savings. Allianz Arena will be the first stadium in the world to adopt LED grow lighting technology for the full pitch inside the stadium. With this new data driven system and our renewed collaboration, we’d like to help the sports industry move towards a more sustainable pitch and stadium management.
Jürgen Muth, stadium manager at Allianz Arena and pioneer of stadium sustainability explains: “The pitch is extremely important to us. We’re here to enable world class football. Without a good pitch, that is simply not possible. With such an enclosed stadium environment as the Allianz Arena and our cold and dark winters, we need grow lighting technology to grow grass all year round. In 2017 we were the first stadium to use SGL LED technology, but this new development allows us to go even further. Together we have drafted a sustainability plan to heavily reduce power consumption by treating the full pitch with the new data controlled LED440’s.”
Head greenkeeper, Christian Dinauer, has witnessed and participated in many of this decade’s technical pitch management revolutions, and was the first to ever use a full pitch LED grow lighting system. “We always need to find ways to make the pitch better and more consistent throughout the year. We work in an environment that is not ideal for grass growth, mainly because of the almost closed stadium construction. For a consistently good pitch, it’s important to create a consistent growing climate. And in order to achieve that, we need as much control over the growing conditions as we can. At the same time we have to do that in a way that contributes to the stadium’s sustainability goals. Therefore in 2017 we were the first to switch a part of our conventional grow lighting system to LED. The advancements in the new technology offers us an even higher energy saving and a bigger lighting surface, including other benefits such as smart temperature control and improved user friendliness. This enables us to fully make the switch to LED.”
Founder of SGL, Nico van Vuuren, has been testing and developing LED technology for over a decade. He explains that sustainable pitch management is as much about data as it is about the technology: “Every stadium is different and every pitch has different light and heat requirements. We developed a growth algorithm that specifically calculates how much light and heat is needed for every part of the pitch, based on many different variables. Think of climate and weather conditions, playing damage and shade for example. This data is used to very specifically determine where and when the LED lights need to be used and when the heating needs to be turned on. With the algorithm we can not only forecast but also guarantee the pitch quality and energy savings. This guarantee is quite unique.” Mr. Muth adds: “When SGL made the calculation for us, it showed significant energy savings. With this new system, we constantly measure the grass temperature and the smart control automatically turns on the heat when needed.”
Even though the grow lighting system is a big part of it, the sustainability plan is more than supplying and using the new technology. Mr. Muth: “We decided to join forces to help the industry forward. SGL have over 20 years of experience in sport turf technology on all continents and are at the forefront of sustainable pitch technology. With the Allianz Arena, we want to remain one of the pioneers in terms of sustainability. Together we can help the sports industry move towards a more sustainable pitch and stadium management.” Van Vuuren adds: “In the end, we all need to do our part in order to make a real difference. That’s why we’re eager to work closely together.”
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