Can a massive sporting event be 'green'? Super Bowl is trying

NFL uses renewable energy certificates to offset the impact of the big game. Plus, 10 U.S. stadiums that are investing in better environmental resource management.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Once the people in Dallas figure out how to get rid of the snow and ice in their backyards, they might be interested in knowing how green the monster sporting event is attempting to be this year -- at least when it comes to offsetting carbon emissions.

The National Football League and the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committe have apparently turned to Just Energy, a green energy retailer, to offset the direct and indirect carbon emissions that are likely to be created by the game, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 6. That includes not just the electricity that will be used for the event itself, but for the official Super Bowl team hotels, the media center and the NFL Experience Football Theme Park. Says Jack Groh, director of the NFL Environmental Program, in a press release about the initiative: "The NFL has been committed to incorporating environmental principles into the management of Super Bowl for 17 years. Each year we try to reach further in our effort to address the environmental impact of our activities. Working with Just Energy this year has allowed us to expand the renewable energy project at Super Bowl to more venues for a longer period of time than ever before in the history of Super Bowl."

As you might suspect, the Super Bowl isn't actually using green energy -- although I must note in fairness that Texas communities are well represented as national leaders in green power usage. The league is purchasing renewable energy certificates (REC) to offset the electricity usage on a one-for-one basis. The RECs are related to a local-ish green power generator, Sweetwater Wind Farm, which is about 228 miles west of Dallas.

Interestingly, as I was pondering this press release, I received a fun infographic from residential solar power company SunRun, ranking the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas as among one of the top 10 green stadiums in the United States. First a note: I have a hard time swallowing the idea that any huge public gathering or event is really "green" but I do appreciate that some organizations are going out of their way to think greener. In any event, here are the venues that SunRun rates the highest, based on its analysis of waste management, green power usage, water consumption and other operating practices that can help make a huge sports arena a greener place. The top 10 list includes:

  1. Qwest Field in Seattle, because it uses solar panels
  2. Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, because the Eagles produces a high percentage of its energy (up to 97 percent as of 2007) through renewable sources
  3. Staples Center in Los Angeles, due to its ISO 14001 certification, which is a third-party validation of its environmental management system
  4. Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., which uses an in-house recycling center and its retooling with an eye toward LEED certification
  5. Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, which has practices in place for annual reductions of solid waste by 25 percent, energy use by 20 percent and water consumption by 1 million gallons
  6. Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, which is combatting tailgating with 350 recycling bins
  7. Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., supporting another major recycling initiative that includes solar-powered compactors
  8. Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., which consulted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency when rebuilding the new stadium (which includes seats made of recycled plastic)
  9. Progressive Field in Cleveland, which uses recycled paper and cornstarch cups in the concession stands
  10. The still-unnamed San Francisco 49ers stadium, due to open in 2014. It will feature, among other things, solar panels, a green roof, a massive water recycling system and a major public transportation system.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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