Market trends

How the bids to host the 2026 World Cup point towards the future of sustainability in the construction industry

Historically, the World Cup tournament

has had a significant impact on the

building industry. We looked into the

2026 World Cup bids — the "United

2026" bid and the bid from Morocco — to explore the key trends and their potential impact on the building materials sector’s future.


The World Cup tournament has always

had an impact on the building industry:

in preparation for Russia 2018, an

estimated US$5.3bn was spent on the

construction and upgrading of stadiums

alone.


We looked further into the 2026 World

Cup bids — the United 2026 bid and

the bid from Morocco — to explore the

key trends and potential impact on the

building materials sector’s future.

The key focus of both bids was on

sustainability, but what did that really

mean and how did they propose to

achieve it?

Legacy modular stadiums (LMS)

Morocco’s bid book detailed 14 stadiums

to be built or renovated; however, six of

the 14 proposed were Legacy Modular

Stadiums (LMS). Each LMS shared a common core design, with the ability to customize the exterior to reduce the complexity and cost. Additionally, the capability to remove modules helps avoid the risk of ending up with underused, oversized stadiums that become white elephants.


Post-tournament, the intention was to

reduce the stadium capacities to

c. 20,000 to 25,000 seats and reconfigure for local community needs — the proposal being to use the dismantled infrastructure for other projects, such as new community halls and other sports areas.

Modular homes are not a new concept;

however, we are seeing an increase

in deployment throughout the world.

For example, Katerra, an off-site

construction startup established in 2015

that handles design, sourcing, supply

and construction, recently completed

a Series-D fundraising that valued the

company at US$3bn.


Another key development in modular

construction has been the use of new

materials, including:


  • silicone-based adhesives, to

help increase the energy-saving

characteristics of doors and windows

in modular construction


  • materials similar to the fiber panels

used on boats, to help create more

durable and efficient homes. These

materials are increasingly attractive

as they are lightweight, waterproof,

mould-proof and termite-proof.

Breeam certification

Morocco committed, in its bid book, to

ensuring all stadiums are designed to

meet Building Research Establishment

Environmental Assessment Method

(BREEAM) and High Quality

Environmental (HQE) certification

standards.

It referenced a number of elements,

including:

ͽͽ gray water recycling

ͽͽ the use of eco-friendly, recycled

or recyclable materials wherever

possible, in line with the Clean

Workplace Charter.

What a year 2018 was!


  • Apple became the first company ever to reach a valuation of US$1 trillion


  • Donald Trump and Kim Jongun became the first in-office US president and North Korean leader to meet


  • The hosts of the biggest World Cup ever, with 48 teams playing 80 matches over 34 days, were revealed to be the United States, Canada and Mexico jointly — under the name United 2026.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED)

LEED is a certification for the design,

construction and operation of green

buildings and areas and is the globally

recognized standard.


We counted how often LEED is

referenced throughout the United

2026 bid documentation: 21 times.

The bid writers clearly focused on

LEED certification of the stadiums and

highlighted the Mercedes-Benz Stadium

in Atlanta, home to MLS club Atlanta

United, as the first stadium in the world

to receive LEED platinum certification.

The use of LEED-compliant materials is

forecast to grow throughout the world.

The characteristics of such materials

include:


  • locally sourced/manufactured
  • utilizing sustainably grown materials

in the product’s manufacture

  • products made from renewable

materials

  • biodegradable
  • toxin-free


Manufacturers that can provide building

materials satisfying the LEED criteria

could see an increase in business over

the coming years.

Gray water recycling

Wastewater generated from showering,

bathing, handwashing and laundry,

amongst other domestic activities, is

commonly known as gray water.

With the right systems there are many

opportunities for this water, once

filtered, to be reused — for example, for

gardening, laundry and as toilet bowl

water.


Despite being available since the 1960s,

gray-water systems have yet to be

widely implemented due to the high

installation costs.


However, more recently, a number

of commercial operators — notably

hotel chains — have begun to see the

benefits, reducing the installation costs

by implementing the gray-water systems

during initial construction.


The inclusion of gray-water systems

in Morocco’s bid could be the start of

a wider uptake throughout the world,

creating new growth opportunities for

operators in the plumbing sub-sector.

Spot on: Manufacturing and distribution of building materials