This hasn’t been the NFL’s best season for off-the-field news. But when it comes to pioneering sustainable solutions to protect the planet, America’s most popular sports league wants to be a national role model.
Fully half of the NFL’s stadiums are now LEED certified and generate at least some of their energy from onsite solar, while the league as a whole continues to strengthen its long push for more recycling. By the time Super Bowl XLIX kicks off in Phoenix next week, the NFL will have planted thousands of trees in Arizona, and this will be the ninth consecutive year, the Super Bowl powered by clean energy through the use of Renewable Energy Certificates.
But this is football, and only one team can win in the end. Four teams are still playing, and it’s time to declare a world champion of green.
4. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts keep 60 tons of waste out of landfills each year through widespread recycling efforts, and many of their serviceware products are biodegradable. They incorporate a diverse array of water conservation techniques at Lucas Oil Stadium (what’s in a name?), with a sweep not spray parking lot cleaning policy, low-flow toilets, and sensory guided sinks. The stadium partners with local farmers to provide seasonal food year-round.
3. Green Bay Packers
If there was a most improved award, it would go to Green Bay. The recently remodeled Lambeau Field includes a slew of energy efficiency features, among them, 500 induction lighting fixtures in concourse areas, 11 high-efficiency condensing boilers, and Energy Star appliances in all kitchen and food-prep areas. All told, the reduced energy consumption should save the Packers 800,000 kWh of electricity and $100,000 a year — good news for the cheese heads of Green Bay who share ownership of the team.
2. New England Patriots
If you want a new recycling bag, head to a Patriots game at Gillette Stadium employees hand out bags for personal use in the parking lot. Sure, there are cheaper ways to get a bag, but while you’re there, you can check out their 2,600 photovoltaic solar panels, which supply 30% of the stadium’s power — about 600,000 kWh of electricity a year. Gillette also houses its very own waste-water treatment system to recycle water, which is wicked sweet.
1. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks were the first team to bring solar panels to an NFL stadium, and its 2 1/2 acre, 4,000 panel solar system remains the largest in the league. Their conservation measures in the last several years that have cut CenturyLink Field’s energy usage by an astounding 20% even as they’ve added Electric Vehicle charging stations in the parking lot. They also recycle 94% of stadium waste, use only compostable food containers, and have created 5 million gallons of cooking oil from their vendors’ recycled cooking oil. So your Green NFL Champion is also the defending Super Bowl Champion. Coincidence?
Readers are encouraged to bring up the Seahawks and the Patriots whenever someone argues that solar power only works in extremely sunny climates. Have you been to Boston in the winter or Seattle in the ever? There doesn’t appear to be a lot of sun. But it provides enough energy to make many of the NFL’s best teams go.
So get ready for some football! And keep it clean.