Forest Green Rovers are officially the greenest football club in the world and the only club to hold UN carbon-neutral certification. They're also recognised by FIFA as the world's only vegan football club and play on an organic pitch mown by a solar-powered mow-bot.
But the centrepiece of FGRs sustainability will be the new eco-park which has been granted final planning permission by Stroud District Council.
The outline bid for the new 5,000 seater stadium was approved last December. The club had to jump a couple of legal hoops before the plans finally became official this week. Club chairman and founder of Ecotricity Dale Vince said the club would now 'crack on' with detailed design work for the wooden construction designed by world-renowned architects Zaha Hadid.
The London based architects have just revealed plans for a Chinese stadium with a translucent roof and a series of garden terraces, but FGRs eco-park will be built around the world's first all-wood stadium.
Zaha Hadid is best known for the sleek and curvaceous lines of the London Aquatics Centre that were one of the showpieces of the London 2012 Olympic Park. That same aesthetic is at play in the FGR stadium which is designed to be the greenest in football, powered by energy from 100% sustainable sources via their sponsors Ecotricity.
In addition to the new stadium, FGR are applying for planning permission for two training pitches and working on a masterplan to incorporate a green tech business park to create much-needed jobs in the local economy.
The current proposal also includes a nature reserve with 500 new trees and extensive hedgerows, a public transportation hub and the restoration of Stroudwater Canal. The business park was originally dropped from the proposal in December but could now make up 50% of the entire development.
FGR's new stadium hasn't been without controversy with the local MP demanding that the application be called-in after outline permission was approved.
The initial application had been refused due to concerns about noise, traffic and impact on the landscape. In response, FGR revised the plans by moving the location of the stadium to the north side of the plot and dropping plans for the redevelopment of the south side.
The revised plan for the new stadium, located next to Junction 13 of the M5 has now received the green light.
The new stadium will be constructed entirely from sustainably sourced timber with structural elements so calculated that the terraces and the floor slab can also be made from wood, not steel or concrete.
The cantilevered roof will be covered with a transparent membrane designed to reduce shadows on the pitch and boost turf growth rates. It also softens the visual impact of the stadium when seen from the outside.
To match the team's impeccable eco-credentials the stadium needed to deliver a highly sustainable design based on carbon-neutral materials. That made wood an obvious choice along with its durability, sustainability and recyclability. The design also features non-reflective surfaces, other natural materials and neutral colours to help it blend seamlessly into its surroundings.
With an initial capacity of 5,000 seats, the design allows the stadium to double its capacity in future as the club continues to succeed.