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
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
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
- 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.
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
It referenced a number of elements,
ͽͽ gray water recycling
ͽͽ the use of eco-friendly, recycled
or recyclable materials wherever
possible, in line with the Clean
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
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
- locally sourced/manufactured
- utilizing sustainably grown materials
in the product’s manufacture
- products made from renewable
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
Despite being available since the 1960s,
gray-water systems have yet to be
widely implemented due to the high
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.