A Roof Over Our Heads

05 December 2022
Hipla q2 drone 05 210609 large

This article originally appeared in the third quarter 2022 issue of PanStadia & Arena Management.


PanStadia & Arena Management quizzed stadium roofing experts about the latest developments in the sector. Katja Bernert, Architect, Textile Architecture Expert at Mehler Texnologies; Ed Bosco, PE, ME Engineers; Dirk Kestner, PE, Director of Sustainable Design Walter P Moore; Steven Sorrentino, Sr. Director of Specialty Films & VDI, Madico, Inc. answered the questions.

What recent innovations in materials and development allow for sustainable structural solutions?

Dirk: Material suppliers are reformulating their materials to use novel combinations of existing technologies that allow membranes to span farther, providing increased transparency while maintaining thermal performance.

They are also studying their supply chains and processes to better understand the impacts associated with making their products and conveying them to specifiers through “Environmental Product Declarations” or EPDs. This trend is likely to accelerate since the Inflation Reduction Act contains $250 million to develop and standardise EPDs for construction materials.

Understanding that sustainability is a key consideration, how do you think textile architecture can contribute to lowering a venue’s ecological footprint?

Dirk: The Textile Architecture allows teams to use less secondary support structure than conventional rigid construction.

This “dematerialization” can be combined with using lower impact materials, or even carbon sequestering materials, to achieve the lowest impact construction.

Taking lightweight architecture as a sustainable way to cover vast spaces - as there obviously are in stadia constructions - is there more to a membrane than protecting the fans on the grandstands from rain or sun?

Dirk: Yes—durability and thermal properties are key to roofing materials. The thermal properties of the membrane have a large impact on the amount of energy a building will consume during its lifetime.

Durability may not be as glamorous, but it is essential to ensuring that a membrane is economical as damage can not only compromise the rain and sun protection, but extensive repairs can be costly—both in terms of direct costs as well as downtime for the venue. Finally, material suppliers are increasingly thinking about material circularity—or what happens to the membrane after the end of its useful life. Can it economically be recycled or re-purposed? Was it designed with consideration for end-of-life scenarios?

How do you measure sustainable design solutions and how do you approach competing strategies or needs from the design team in regard to sustainability?

Dirk: Sustainability is, by definition, a multi-attribute. After ensuring that solutions meet the required performance objectives, they can be compared by using Life Cycle Assessment: a method of environmental accounting, to compare impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions or other measures of air and water pollution. Teams must study both the upfront, embodied, emissions that occur initially as well as those that occur over the lifespan of the roof.

Stay updated on our latest insights, news, events, advancements, and successes we’ve achieved with our clients.