Friday Night Lights – Going Green This Football Season
The National Football League (NFL) is the most profitable sports league in the world, drawing an average of 60-80K fans per game and millions to their television sets each season. Football stadiums are generally larger by capacity yet used much less throughout a season than other sports stadiums. The massive energy output required to power these often-empty structures has given football a reputation for major inefficiency and has pressured the NFL to go green. But stadium energy waste only tells part of the story. Millions of gallons of gas required to transport fans to and from games & watch parties, as well as the electricity consumption from television sets is estimated to cost 1 billion kWh of energy per season. Fortunately, the NFL has lead the way in recent years to reduce its carbon footprint and inspire fans to follow suit.
In 2013 Dallas’s AT&T Stadium took major heat for its power usage. According to a critical New York Times article, the stadium’s peak energy demand—roughly 750 megawatts—was three times the entire energy capacity of the small country of Liberia. Another reference pointed out that this single stadium could power an entire medium sized city in the U.S. Such mammoth energy output imposed costs not only on the environment but on the NFL’s wallet.
To help mitigate such costs to earth and bank, the NFL has taken major steps toward renewable energy in recent years. New stadiums are often built to the standards of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)—a globally recognized green building rating system that offers a framework to create highly efficient, cost-saving buildings. Older stadiums are not necessarily LEED compliant, but are undergoing updates to improve efficiency.
Of the 32 NFL stadiums ranked in a recent article, six lead the way with LEED Certifications. These include the stadiums of Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings. Falling slightly short of LEED certification, 20 other stadiums have enacted green energy technology and programs to reduce waste. These stadiums utilize a variety of methods from wind turbines, renewable energy credits (RECs), ENERGY STAR appliances, solar panels and energy efficient lighting such as LEDs to achieve greater efficiency. That leaves only six stadiums—we won’t name names—who have yet to launch green initiatives.
One shining example of energy efficiency is the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Georgia that may be hosting the nation’s greenest Super Bowl in 2019. Home to the Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz is the nation’s first professional sports stadium to reach LEED Platinum status. Opened in 2017, this world-class structure will help dramatically improve energy use during the Super Bowl, which is known to cost roughly $25M in energy across many sources of waste. The home of the Atlanta Falcons is singlehandedly affecting change by using 47% less water than baseline building standards, 4,000 solar panels, LED lighting, and providing alternative transportation options on game day including a bike valet program and electric car stations. Mercedes-Benz is leading the path to a greener NFL and we hope that fans will draw inspiration from these initiatives.
Fans of the NFL can do their part all season long, and especially during the Super Bowl to reduce their carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency. Transportation and television energy needs may be the biggest, but are not the only culprits of inefficiency during football season. Other sources of fan waste can come in the form of discarded food and throw-away plastics used during game day. Now that we know the problems, let’s offer some green solutions that every NFL fan can get behind.
5 Tips To Help Go Green This NFL Season
1. Carpool, take public transportation or ride a bike to your game-day outing.
2. Reduce the number of TVs on by hosting or attending a watch party with several spectators. The more, the merrier!
3. Avoid buying food and decorations wrapped in throw-away plastics.
4. Compost your unused food wherever possible.
5. Look to use paper & glass utensils instead of plastic or Styrofoam.
6. Fun Fact: Roughly 325 gallons of beer will be consumed during the Super Bowl – Recycle your cans or bottles!
Most importantly, have fun and breathe cleaner knowing the NFL is taking major strides to protect its fans and their environment!