Greening NFL Stadiums: Football Gets Sustainable
UPDATE: In recognition of National Energy Action month and football season, we thought it apt to refresh this article. See how (or if!) your favorite NFL team stacks up in this cool NFL Stadium Energy Showdown infographic.
And don't forget, you can do your part as a consumer by tracking your home's energy usage with WegoHome, a free online energy benchmarking tool. You can also find great resources at Energy.gov including facility, office, and home energy checklists.
The majority of NFL fans probably attend games to see bone-crushing hits, gun-slinging quarterbacks and one-handed touchdown catches in the corner of the end zone. However, beneath the surface many teams have high performing pieces that don’t simply include their player personnel. Franchises across the league are increasingly realizing the benefits of sustainability and many are taking major steps towards greening the NFL.
The team taking the lead in green practices is the Philadelphia Eagles. They have a comprehensive program, aptly named GO GREEN, which encourages recycling, renewable energy and tree planting. The Eagles have installed an array of systems to deliver 100% of the stadium's energy through 2,500 solar panels, 80 vertical wind turbines, and an on-site generation plant that can run on biodiesel or natural gas. The Lincoln Financial Field solar panels, turbines and co-gen plant makes them the first NFL team to run 100% on renewable energy. In addition, energy conservation programs have cut electricity consumption in half since 2004 and low-flow bathroom fixtures have cut water use in half, making the Eagles arguably the greenest NFL franchise.
When the new Cowboys Stadium was completed in 2010, the Dallas Cowboys restored a flood-prone creek outside the stadium, complete with native grasses, trees and trails. Other green accomplishments of the stadium include reducing solid waste by 25%, energy use by 20% and water use by 1 million gallons a year. The Cowboys diverted significant waste through recycling 90% of the old stadium construction as well as installing recycled plastic seats in the new stadium.
CenturyLink Field, new home of the Seattle Seahawks, utilizes a solar array on its adjacent Event Center to take advantage of the facility’s new white “cool roof” which conserves energy by reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the roof surface and lowering the cooling load. This system covers over 2.5 acres, or approximately 80% of the Event Center roof. The stadium’s solar panels are projected to generate over 830,000 kWh of electricity annually, the equivalent of powering 95 Seattle homes for a year.
At the executive level, the NFL has also created a Green Team Committee to help advocate for sustainability within the league. The Green Team is partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council to share information about better practices at NFL facilities and help reduce environmental impacts of NFL facilities and events. The efforts are certainly paying off, as all 32 franchises have programs of some kind in place to address sustainability, so the future seems bright for energy producing, waste reducing, water saving stadiums.