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The Ecologic Transition

AN INTENSIVE, SAFE, ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PITCH

"The POWERgrass hybrid system simplifies maintenance, reduces water consumption, the risk of weather damage and the cost of extraordinary operations".
Dr. Niko Sarris

Lescano during a Scissor kick with SambLescano during a Scissor kick with Samb

“Public green areas" is that part of the territory taken away from construction to mitigate the impact of overbuilding on the environment. Natural grass playing fields are part of public green areas and their transformation into synthetic grass over the last two decades has changed the actual reorganization of public green areas in the territory also from an environmental point of view. The problem is even greater in large municipalities and metropolitan cities where playing fields converted to artificial turf take away large areas of natural green between buildings.

In Turin, enquiries have been launched, with notices of investigation sent to the city's top management concerning pollution in the city. If we add to the failure to reduce traffic congestion and the uncontrolled management of heating the increased use of air conditioners, the cutback in expenditure on the maintenance of public parks and the removal of natural pitches in favour of synthetic pitches, we get a worse picture over the last two decades.

Smog in TurinSmog in Turin

In general, the main problem in Italy is the lack of control over the maintenance of public property, which in recent years of crisis has become less and less due to a lack of funds. Excessive bureaucracy has turned municipal technicians into office scribes who produce paper with long lead times, partly because there seems to be a lack of good technicians or little incentive in the offices.

A technician from a municipality in Milan said that it was 'easier for them to rebuild an artificial turf field every 10 years than to maintain a natural field'. Even when we explained to him that a well-designed hybrid pitch (a mixture of natural and synthetic turf) can be maintained at a low cost and that, in exchange for a greater commitment to routine maintenance, it saves almost the entirety of extraordinary maintenance, he did not want to go into detail because, according to him, it would be too complicated for the manager and the administrators would not listen to us.

Fortunately, not everyone thinks this way, and incentives for green projects help to change the opinion of those with an open mind, but it is sad to see that the technician thinking has become so ingrained in the minds of many over the past two decades. On balance, it seems irrational to invest in extraordinary maintenance to redo a playing field polluting the environment, instead of planning and controlling proper routine maintenance but that is what has happened in the last two decades. The problem is probably in the financial planning even before it gets to the technical offices because the funds for extraordinary maintenance fall under investments while those for routine maintenance fall under current expenses. Mainstream thinking is that "it's better to build a synthetic pitch because nobody maintains it properly anyway, but it remains green even when it's worn out and pollutes. Anyway, it will be changed in a few years and, if anything, it will be the problem of whoever has to administer it later." In the meantime, the politician has made a good impression by building a new pitch. Bad management? No! Ignorance and mismanagement of public assets, lack of respect for the environment and our health. And one might wonder what happens to disused synthetic pitches, especially rubber ones. Dutch investigative journalism put a spotlight on the subject two years ago and the picture is very worrying.

The Ecologic Transition

One might wonder what the authorities are doing on each country about synthetic turf disposal, but we have found no trace on the subject. Let us be clear the villain is not the synthetic field, but the management during the period of use and maintenance and disposal after use.

The hyperbolic communication of the industry or the superficiality of the purchasers contributed to this thought, which we have deliberately emphasised, but it was also driven by an imminent need to increase the intensity of play on natural grass pitches, which are incapable of withstanding intensive play because, after a while, rainwater does not drain, and the grass is choked with mud.

THE SOLUTION OF A HYBRID PITCH, WITHIN EVERYONE'S REACH

The Ecologic Transition

POWERgrass has designed a hybrid grass system (mixed synthetic and natural grass) that has the same construction and maintenance costs as a synthetic pitch with a positive environmental impact, capturing CO2, PM2.5 and PM10, producing oxygen and lowering the temperature. Constant routine maintenance avoids the risk of damage and extraordinary maintenance costs. With the right programming, a qualified operator can manage two 11-a-side football pitches at a professional level. If the manager or operator does not carry out the maintenance correctly, it is immediately noticed, but it is also easy to intervene to correct any problems. At the end of the management period, the pitch does not require peremptory replacement because it is playable by continuing to grow natural grass.

The characteristics of the POWERgrass hybrid field can be summarised as follows because it offers multiple advantages about:

  1. the usability of the hybrid pitch for the needs of up to 30 hours per week for a squad of 22-25 players; moreover, the system maintained on a regular basis can extend the life of the pitch without a peremptory limit for replacement;
  2. the simplicity of routine maintenance due to the absence of divots and the technological operation through a remote access control unit equipped with soil and air probes to better understand how to manage water for irrigation, which is essential to make maintenance more efficient and save water;
  3. the professional pitch management with the necessary environmental certifications, during the period of use and routine maintenance which, among other things, significantly reduces the risk of extraordinary maintenance;
  4. the hydraulic management in the area during heavy rainfall because it absorbs and retains the water in the growing medium aggregated by the hybrid carpet, thus mitigating the problem of soil erosion and pollution of water due to the surface runoff of rainwater, which is also responsible for landslides and flooding.

The system is designed for the circular economy with a positive environmental impact, while promoting qualified employment in the area because the system:

  • optimises the use of industrial resources due to a long payback period of more than 20 years; favours the use of mineral resources that can be reused countless times and renewable natural resources;
  • reduces water evaporation due to the presence of a geotextile and water demand by storing rainwater in its substrate and storing excess water in large tanks, thus reducing the use of groundwater for irrigation;
  • offers environmentally friendly maintenance, capturing CO2 and particulate matter and lowering the temperature due to increased photosynthesis efficiency because it optimises growth conditions, promotes soil biology, and lengthens the productive photoperiod;
  • does not produce any waste during maintenance because the mowing residues produce compost and, at the end of the management period, the field is still usable by continuing to grow natural grass.

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