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5 NFL Football Stadiums Score Big on Energy Efficiency
September kicks off the start of another football season. And, while most fans will be focused on what’s happening on-the-field, there’s another storyline already forming off of it. Many NFL stadiums are scoring big on energy savings and tackling waste at the same time—adding even more value to the game day experience.
"These iconic stadiums are using the most innovative technologies and strategies today to save energy and water,” says Jason Hartke of the Building Technologies Office, who spearheaded a recent U.S. Department of Energy report examining how sports teams and venues can save energy. “They’re not just demonstrating great leadership in efficiency, they’re spreading the word to millions of people across the country.”
NFL stadiums are some of the largest sport venues in America. Many of them are more than one million square feet and are in the top 0.1 percent, by size, of all U.S. commercial buildings. This means they require large amounts of operating energy—but also provide plenty of opportunities for savings.
Here is how five teams are tackling energy:
MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and Jets, was named one of the top 10 most energy efficient stadiums by Energy Digital. Despite being twice as large as the old Giants Stadium it replaced in 2010, MetLife Stadium consumes 30 less less energy thanks to LED lighting and lighting controls that are powered by a “solar ring” of 1,350 solar panels. The stadium also boasts energy-efficient windows, ENERGYSTAR office equipment, kitchen appliances, and concession equipment, and HVAC technologies that reduce energy demand and maintain performance for its refrigerators and chilled water air conditioning.
The New York Jet’s Atlantic Health Training Facility also saves energy through 3,000 solar panels, improved heating and cooling system operation, real-time power monitoring, and a three-phased LED lighting and controls project that is replacing all parking lot, roadway, interior fixtures and roof hanging field house lights with more efficient LED fixtures.
CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, implemented a robust sustainability program over the last decade, resulting in a 21 percent reduction in annual energy costs—even in the face of rising visitor attendance. The stadium uses high-efficiency lighting and point-of-use lighting controls in concession stands, restrooms, and storage spaces to make sure lighting is only on when needed. It also installed more than 3,500 solar panels that generate electricity equivalent to the amount needed to power 95 Seattle-area homes for an entire year. The stadium also uses a cool roof to reduce heat absorption and building energy costs.
Lincoln Financial Field
Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, is considered one of the “greenest” stadiums in the world. Its on-site renewable energy (produced by more than 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines) supplies more than four times the power used during a season of home games. Through a variety of conservation programs, such as an improved building management system and a properly evaluated commissioning of the building, the team was able to reduce its energy bills by 33 percent. They also saved up to 5 years in electric costs thanks in part to new occupancy-based lighting controls.
M&T Bank Stadium
M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, is the first existing stadium to be LEED Gold certified. The stadium is 27 percent more energy efficient than the national average and reduced its electricity use from 2005-2012 by 5 million kilowatt-hours—equivalent to the energy needed to heat 440 homes for an entire year. The stadium also follows a sustainable purchasing policy that requires all purchases to include recycled, renewable, and ENERGYSTAR labeled products for the building. In 2016, M&T Bank Stadium installed more than 1,200 solar panels on its field house and grounds-keeping buildings. The recent additions should generate roughly 15% of the team’s electricity needs.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new home of the Atlanta Falcons, was designed with energy efficiency and clean energy in mind. The stadium will save 29% in energy usage compared to a typical stadium design, which the team anticipates could save close to $900,000 in annual savings.
The stadium’s retractable roof and energy-efficient floor-to-roof glass on the concourses maximizes natural light which, alongside LED lighting, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and building control systems, should drastically reduce electricity usage compared to typical stadiums.
Mercedes-Benz stadium is also built to catch more than 1 million gallons of rainwater, which will not only help address a long-standing flooding concern in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood, but will also be used for irrigation and the stadium’s cooling system. More than 4,000 solar panels have also been installed at Mercedes-Benz stadium, which should generate enough energy to power nine Falcon home games.