"Leveraging upcoming global sporting events to transform Brazil into the Economy of the Future."



The CopaVerde Plan calls for a movement for Green Building and centralized, sustainability planning for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In leveraging the largest global sporting events, Brazil can pave a new path forward focused on economic, environmental and social sustainability. The result so far, following the 2014 FIFA World Cup, showed limited, coordinated effort. But, LEED Certification of the soccer stadiums should be considered a great success. As of October 2014, eight of the twelve World Cup stadiums were certified! These EcoArenas (understood as more economical and ecological) have lower maintenance and operating costs and will have a better chance of reaching, or maintaining, profitability. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games can still play an important Legacy role, but, we will have to wait and see the willingness of the Brazilian Government, and its people, to unite behind reaching for the best long-term, sustainability results.

The CopaVerde Plan (“The Plan”) is a blueprint for Brazil to become the most advanced, sustainable economy in the world. The Plan begins by calling for the largest, coordinated, Green Building effort ever attempted, in preparation for the major sporting events that Brazil will be hosting in the coming years (2014 & 2016). It follows with measures for containment and reversal of deforestation, investment in renewable energy, and mitigation of emissions related to air travel... The CopaVerde Plan is, in essence, a competition for sustainability that will occur initially in conjunction with high profile global sporting events, but will continue far into the future. It will create the capacity for Brazil and its citizens to endure and meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. It calls architects to build the EcoArenas of the future and serves as a platform for Brazil to showcase its ability to be a leader in economic, environmental and social innovation. The CopaVerde is the great gift Brazil can offer itself and the world!




"CopaVerde is a competition for sustainability where anyone can participate and everyone wins!"




Over the next 6 years, Brazil will undergo its largest infrastructure build in history, primarily, but not limited to, its preparation for the world’s two greatest sporting events. Twenty-five years of construction will be compressed into this short period of time and decisions made today will impacts the next 50 to 100 years, or more.

Because the built environment (homes, apartments, office buildings, factories, hotels, arenas etc…) contributes between 40-50% of CO2 emissions worldwide, and because green, efficient, sustainable building is considered an important component in the fight against climate change, Brazil has a unique opportunity to make significant strides in the efficiency and quality of its infrastructure, reducing long-term maintenance costs and its carbon footprint.

Twelve “host” cities in Brazil will invest more than a combined R$200bn (US$114bn) and if proper attention is made to sustainability the legacy of these events could be the beginnings of twelve “Green Cities”: local economies that are more efficient, less impactful to the environment, and more sustainable over time. The successes and failures of these efforts through 2016 will lay a foundation for the transformation of the Brazilian economy and could serve as a model for the world.

It is our hope that the measures suggested here will inspire individuals, companies, communities, and policy makers everywhere to take the necessary steps to invest in their infrastructure and redesign their local economies to better provide for the long-term needs of their people. This includes the buildings and environment they inhabit, transportation, and the proper management of natural resources and waste.

We start from the premise that we all share this planet, that our resources are limited, that our environment is over burdened, and that pollution and loss of habitat anywhere on earth is in fact, pollution and loss of habitat in our own backyard. The challenges ahead are daunting and will require imagination, innovation, tremendous effort and cooperation, but most of all, a willingness to act locally on problems that are global in nature. Everyone has a role to play in this new competition for sustainability and the good news is that this is one challenge we must all overcome together. Following is a plan for unified victory in the competition that lies ahead. We ask for your energy and support in this effort.


PART 1: Infrastructure: Build EcoArenas, Airports, Hotels, Hospitals and Public Transportation Systems of the Future

Objectives: Coordinating the largest, Green Building project to date. Gaining international credibility through environmental project certification, or “LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification,” under the USGBC (United States Green Building Council), the most reputable international certification organization in the world today. Keeping politicians, architects, engineers, and builders accountable and avoiding disingenuous efforts to adopt environmentally beneficial practices, also known as “Green Wash.”

LEED certification must be applied to all private and public projects to be utilized during the upcoming world sporting events:

  1. Stadiums and sports facilities to become EcoArenas: All new and/or renovated stadiums and sports facilities should incorporate the latest Green Building design techniques and technologies that fit within reasonable budget. The LEED certified EcoArenas can become laboratories for sustainability and together can represent the most advanced, eco-friendly portfolio of multi-purpose arenas on the planet. These EcoArenas would serve as the “poster-children” model of sustainability of the Green Games. The LEED certified Maracanã stadium and supporting Olympic sport facilities in Rio along with the LEED certified Olympic village would also become the showcase for the first, truly “Green” Olympic Games.
  2. Airports: Renovations and expansions throughout the country’s airports are needed to address Brazil’s growing economy and the additional influx of tourists related to these events. Green building practices can lead to significant long-term environmental benefits, lower maintenance costs and educate the traveling public of the benefits of Green design and construction.
  3. Hotels: LEED certification for hotels seeking to host foreign sporting delegations and dignitaries is required.
  4. Hospitals: New and/or renovated LEED Certified “Green” hospitals can significantly improve quality of care by limiting hospital related sicknesses and by allowing patients to recover more quickly.
  5. Public Transportation: Fast, clean and efficient public transportation (trains, subways and buses) between city population centers, airports, and the city’s stadiums are critical to reducing emissions related to stadium events, business travel, tourism and basic mobility. Limiting fossil fuel based transportation is a critical component in the creation of less carbon intensive cities.

Financing: Most of the infrastructure projects in Brazil (public and private) will be financed in part by The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). To make investment in Green building productive and profitable it is necessary that the financing terms be tied to the quality of the execution of the project: design, construction & maintenance. We believe, therefore, that better terms, or “Green Bonuses,” should be applied to the financing of each project based on the level of LEED certification achieved: Basic, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The higher the level of LEED certification obtained the greater the adjustment on the interest rate of the loan. This would give the owner and the design and construction teams the incentive to pursue and invest in the sustainability of the project as the return on investment (ROI) can be achieved far sooner through the financing terms than from the typical, operational ROI. The ROI of an investment of 5-6% of the cost of construction could therefore be returned by the time of the actual commencement of the games (2-5 years), instead of the traditional 5-10 years. Each project of course is different, but the Brazilian Government needs to be the largest investor in sustainability, to create the markets for better design, materials, construction and recycling (waste) practices.

Execution: It is critical that a sustainability design team be hired by each Project Owner to work with architects, contractors and material suppliers as early in the process as possible. Teamwork and involvement by all of the parties throughout the life of a project is not customary in traditional building, but it is a critical element of successful sustainable design & construction and a must for projects seeking LEED certification. This will be an immense challenge for all parties involved, but it is a necessary step, and one, which will launch a new era of Brazilian architecture and construction.

Message: The CopaVerde Plan proposes that these projects be remodeled and/or re-designed to convey a consistent message to both the foreign and domestic tourist; i.e. that the preservation of the environment and healthy living is tied to efficient and sustainable building, construction and transportation. This is at the center of the new Brazilian way of life.


PART 2: Additional measures related specifically to sporting events

Objectives: Setting event specific measures that will serve as a catalyst for change in important sectors of each local economy.

  1. Use of local labor should be a priority on infrastructure projects in order to limit the need for investment in new and/or temporary facilities. Such lodging plan should also be designed and constructed using the most affordable Green Building techniques and be integrated into the local area so that it can serve as a tribute to the Brazilian worker and be a "Green" legacy for the local community. Not preparing for this could stress surrounding areas of construction sites and lead to significant growth in local "favelas", shantytowns (a serious problem in South Africa.) Other side effects will include added pollution from long distance travel, increased traffic on roads, which will inevitably be going through repairs, and lost time and added costs related to worker tardiness.
  2. A cleaner airplane fuel mix should be utilized during the months of the hosting of events in an effort to lower carbon emissions associated to air travel. Airplane emissions are considered the largest pollution component related directly to global sporting events. Brazil’s large geography and distance to Europe, the United States and Asia present a significant challenge in this area. Specific measures targeted at cleaner air travel are necessary. By 2013, we believe safe fuel mix alternatives will exist that can be utilized to diminish the impact of emissions related to this form of travel.
  3. Modern recycling and waste management programs for all host cities should be implemented to minimize waste and educate a large percentage of the population about recycling practices. Efforts must begin immediately in major public spaces, schools, airports, other transport stations, hotels, hospitals and stadiums.
  4. A Local Renewable Energy Project dedicated specifically to the “Games” and utilizing the most appropriate local natural resources, should be built and in operation in each of the host cities by the opening of the event. The energy produced by this project should supplement energy demand in stadiums during their operation through a Green Power contract: a utility purchase and exchange program.
  5. Clean powered buses & cars (non-fossil fuel based, preferably electric) should be used in transporting all event-related delegations and dignitaries, within each host city.
  6. Carbon off-setting tools for local initiatives (individual, corporate, or other) should be facilitated through an on-line Brazilian Carbon exchange. This could help support and fund initiatives for carbon capture, reforestation, building efficiency, and launch new industries while solidifying the Carbon exchange market.


PART 3: The “Green” Brazilian Economy

Objectives: Setting broad policy goals that will run parallel to event specific measures. These policies will be the foundation for the execution of the “Green” Games and can serve as a “Green” policy legacy post 2016.

  1. A market based monetization plan for landowners (similar to the UN’s REDD “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation,” Brazil’s “Amazon Fund,” or other) is critical to compensate farmers sufficiently so that they will protect their lands and prevent any further deforestation in the Amazon or other regions. The goal is to stop deforestation completely by 2014 and to begin reversing the trend through reforestation by 2016. Fifty to seventy-five percent of CO2 emissions in Brazil come from deforestation in the Amazon region. This alone, places Brazil among the top 5 greenhouse gas emitters and if Brazil is serious about sustainability and reducing its Carbon Footprint this must be accomplished. Major international sporting events hosted in Brazil simply cannot be considered “Green” until the issue of deforestation is addressed.
  2. A change to Brazil’s Procurement Law N˚8666 is needed for Public Infrastructure projects. This law awards public bids to the construction company that offers to build the project for the lowest construction cost (to the government.) This has led to a history of low quality, poorly designed buildings with frequent technical errors and high maintenance costs. The N˚8666 Law has as a goal keeping project costs down and preventing over budgeting and corruption. The law, however, is outdated and proven ineffective. A new law that would award projects to the design and construction teams that deliver the project with the lowest long-term costs (construction + maintenance costs: using 10 years perhaps, as a baseline) should be implemented as soon as possible. Computerized energy modeling for building has advanced to the point where the technique should be embraced fully. Binding these projects with LEED certification (serving as an independent Green Building auditor) and offering preferential financing terms (from the BNDES and other banks) linked to the successful execution of the project, would create a powerful transformation in the quality of the infrastructure built in Brazil, reducing the government’s long-term maintenance costs and overall environmental impact.
  3. Minimal Green Building guidelines, based on LEED, the US Green Building Council standard, should be implemented for the entire building industry in Brazil. Such standards would quickly transform the design, construction and material sourcing markets reducing costs for investments in sustainable practices and products. This would also provide the long-term visibility needed in the market and encourage the private sector to invest in Research and Development for more environmentally friendly materials and processes;
  4. The adoption of an aggressive plan to attract investment for the clean-renewable energy sector that would begin with the ratification of the IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) Treaty by the Brazilian Government. This new agency created in January, 2009 is the first global body that will research and assist in setting policy for the renewable energy sector globally. Many countries, serious about investing in renewable energy, have already signed on. Brazil is a leader in fossil-free power production due to its large installed Hydropower generating capacity (+76% of the entire electricity portfolio) and its “clean” small passenger vehicle fleet (+50% of automobiles run on biofuel, sugar cane based ethanol.) Now, Brazil must compete for and develop technologies in emerging renewable energy sectors like wind, solar and wave (tidal) power; energy sources that are far more promising than hydropower alone. Brazil is rich in each of these resources, with an extensive coastline, abundant sun exposure and wind corridors. By good fortune, months of low rainfall (weaker Hydro output) also happen to be Brazil’s windier months offering particularly good synergies between Hydro and Wind Power. Overlapping, parallel operations can offer a superior, clean energy portfolio mix for many locations and help to preserve reservoir levels reducing overall systemic risk;
  5. Still, a responsible expansion plan for low-impact Hydropower (electricity) and Sugar Cane Ethanol (used to fuel automobiles) is needed to maintain a clean energy portfolio mix while we transition to less harmful renewable energy sources (see above). Greater regulation is necessary though, for the sourcing of Sugar Cane Ethanol from sustainably certified farms to prevent any further deforestation related to this energy source;
  6. Decentralization of energy production and smart utility distribution is necessary to meet the growth in energy demand, increase efficiency, and to jump-start the independent energy producing market. The future of energy is in smaller renewable energy production facilities (such as solar or wind farms) where companies, buildings and even individual households can sell clean power back to the utility grid. This will transform the market by increasing building efficiency (through on site energy production), reducing long distance transmission and improving the overall energy portfolio mix, making the system more stable and less dependent on any one source. (Blackouts continue to be a problem in Brazil);
  7. A halt to the development of any new “dirty” (fossil fuel based) power projects, also know as the “Plano Decenal”, should take immediate effect. These operations go against the way of the future. Price competitive alternatives exist in the renewable energy sector with proper government incentive. For coal plants already in operation, these should become research laboratories for carbon capturing techniques, such as with the use of algae tanks. Fly ash, a residual of the coal burning process, should be mixed with concrete and not deposited into landfills. Additionally, a technology research exchange program should be developed with economies that employ heavy use of this form of power generation, such as the United States and China, so that Brazilian scientists can help solve the global dependence on coal based power generation;
  8. The development and production of a Brazilian electric motor, by 2014, that will eventually replace the internal-combustion engine in a commuter-oriented automobile. Financial incentives should be created for the re-charging of these cars’ batteries at night, when the demand for energy is at its lowest point and much of the hydropower electricity that is created gets wasted. Brazil can, and should, have the cleanest automobile fleet in the world because the energy used to power these vehicles can be sourced from renewable energy sources (currently hydropower.) This is not the case for any of the other large developed or developing countries where most are trading the gas pump for a power socket fueled by coal or natural gas. Brazil’s head start in a largely fossil-free utility power grid and existing leadership in sugar cane based ethanol for automobiles, should inspire Brazilian scientists to move forward and become a global leader in carbon free transportation.
  9. A federal investment plan to help low-income automobile and truck drivers replace inefficient and highly polluting cars and trucks for more efficient, less polluting transport. This plan can help lower-income individuals and families save money on fuel, while bettering overall air quality and creating a Green Jobs sector for the deconstruction and recycling of materials related to the antiquated cars and trucks on Brazilian roads today. Such a plan, was successfully executed in the United States in 2009, know as “Cash for Clunkers”;
  10. A modern cargo, freight rail system linking the major economic centers in the southern part of Brazil: primarily Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Campinas, São Paulo, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre is long-overdue. This would alleviate significantly the truck traffic on highways, make transportation far safer for passenger vehicles, and would reduce drastically the emissions related to freight & commercial transport in Brazil.
  11. A modern high-speed passenger rail system in the Southern part of Brazil is also in serious demand. Plans for such a train connecting Rio de Janeiro, Campinas and São Paulo are already in planning phase and the execution of this project by 2016 would significantly alleviate airports and reduce pollution associated with air travel.
  12. An educational fund devoted specifically to the development of Clean Power and Green Technology skills among young scientists;
  13. Greater consumer protection from harmful chemicals used in food and consumer products;
  14. A sustainable farming certification program for all food sources so that deforestation can be brought under control (for example managing soybean plantations in the Amazon region);
  15. A revitalization plan for the Brazilian coastline and adjacent waters;
  16. A research initiative into atmospheric and oceanic carbon capture programs;


PART 4: Strategy, Coordination and Execution

Objectives: create the organizational bodies and promote the most important policies that can bring about measures needed to coordinate and execute the CopaVerde Plan.

  1. Successful implementation of these strategies will require legislation at the federal and state levels.· We believe that every effort must be put in place to facilitate investments in sustainability and Green Building as soon as possible. Tax incentives and minimal industry standards will push companies to invest and innovate in order to create more sustainable solutions. Protection of the country’s natural resources and the citizenry’s well being is of the highest importance and these should be viewed in such light.
  2. Tax incentives should be created for all companies, domestic or foreign, investing in Brazilian sustainability. This would include tax exemptions on foreign technologies, not available in Brazil and which are prohibitively expensive to import. The government can play a critical role in alleviating these obstacles so that the best technologies in the world today can reach the building sector, renewable energy markets and other important segments of the economy. Investments are being made today that will last decades and high long-term operating and environmental costs must be avoided. This is an extraordinary moment and policy must be adjusted to reflect this challenge.
  3. “Green Bonuses” applied to the financing terms of any projects funded by the BNDES (Brazilian National Development Bank) that achieve LEED Certification are necessary. Interest rates on loans can be downwardly adjusted depending on the level of LEED certification obtained. This is perhaps the most effective policy tool available to make “Green” sporting events a reality. A financial incentive of this kind would ignite overnight a competition for the largest, Green Building effort so far attempted.
  4. The creation of a new Federal Sustainability Department devoted specifically to developing strategies and writing legislation to transition the Brazilian economy into a more sustainable or “Green Economy”, is needed.
  5. A single individual, a “Czar of the Games” should be assigned the power and responsibility of coordinating these all of the games Brazil will be hosting over the coming years. To this day there is no department or individual accountable for the preparation and planning for these events and it is the main reason why Brazil is already behind schedule. This “Czar”, should not be a politician, have a relationship with event of the event organizers, or local federations, like the CBF (Brazilian Football Federation), and he/she should not be tied to the proposed (above) Federal Sustainability Department. Independence here must be maintained. This person should be an experienced operator, with knowledge in finance, infrastructure and technology and have a clear vision of how to limit the environmental impact of the “Games.” This individual would also preside over the “Committee of the Games.”
  6. A “Committee of the Games” should be formed for to coordinate all of the country’s upcoming events. A panel of sustainability experts should be brought together from the public and private sectors to advise all who are involved in event preparations. The team should count with a representative from each of the events local organizing committees. This team would research and offer guidelines and support for the successful preparation and execution of all matters related to, but not limited to: air quality, transport, energy, green coverage and protected areas, water, solid waste, recycling, event sites and venues, green building certification, accessibility, climate neutrality, and coordination of international and domestic NGO support. Proposals made by this committee should be presented to the Federal Sustainability Department for fast-track policy making. Collaboration between global sporting organizations would also be a notable and important first contributing to more environmentally friendly events going forward.



The CopaVerde Plan for Brazil, first written on January 1, 2009, continues to serve as a blueprint for how to execute, what we believe, can be one of the greatest infrastructure feats and economic transformations of our time.

The opportunity for Brazilians to host such important sporting events within a two-year window is historic. It will bring much excitement and pride to the country, as well as significant uncertainty and anxiety. Brazilians have the opportunity to look beyond past political mismanagement, corruption, violence, and infrastructure blunders (as recently as the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio) and create a better future for themselves. We have the opportunity to set a new course as innovators and leaders of sustainability, responsibility and wellbeing.

These Green Games can be Brazil’s great gift to itself, and, to the world. Imagine “The Beautiful Game” being played in LEED certified EcoArenas, and, two years later, having the best athletes on the planet coming to the most beautiful city in the world, Rio de Janeiro, to compete in the most advanced, efficient, and eco-friendly sporting facilities ever built.

This would set the stage for what could be the greatest Games of all time, serving also as the most important tribute ever made to our planet. This can, and we hope will, become a competition “where everyone wins.”

We thank you and invite you to help make CopaVerde become a reality.


Green Building Council Brasil

US Green Building Council

Green Sports Alliance USA


The CopaVerde Plan