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Football Goes Green with Energy-Efficient Stadiums


We all know which season is everyone’s favorite here in the Tennessee Valley. That’s right—football season! As this year’s season kicks off, it’s clear that the movement to build more energy-efficient, sustainable stadiums is gaining steam. From the 49er’s Levi’s Stadium in California to the Falcon’s brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, more and more teams are looking for ways to make a positive impact on their communities and the environment through the design and operation of their home fields. Let’s take a look at how these football teams are making their homes greener—and maybe it’ll give you some good ideas for your own home, too!

LED Lighting

One of the most popular methods for increasing the energy-efficiency of football stadiums is switching to LED lighting. Because LED lights are brighter than the old metal halide lights, the stadiums are able to use fewer of them and still end up with a better-lit field than they had before. Plus, LED lights don’t need to be changed as often. And of course, they’re more energy efficient. According to the general manager of the Falcons’ new stadium, the LED lights installed there will use about 60% less energy than traditional lights would have! Several other stadiums have already made the switch to LEDs, saving anywhere from 30-60% on electricity for lighting, including the Houston Texan’s NRG Stadium as well as the MetLife Stadium in New York.

Solar Panels and Wind Turbines

Another method that football teams are using to make their stadiums more environmentally friendly is installing solar panels and wind turbines to generate their own electricity. According to Sports Illustrated’s article on Levi’s Stadium, the solar panel installations there can actually produce enough electricity to power the stadium for all of their home games each season. And the 4000 solar panels at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will provide enough power for at least nine of the Falcons’ home games each year.

But the solar panels and wind turbines at the Philadelphia Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field have even that high standard beat. The US Department of Energy states that Philadelphia’s stadium actually generates four times as much electricity as they need for all of their home games every season! It’s not just a football field—it’s practically a power plant!

Energy Efficient Glass

For the windows and glass walls of indoor portions of stadiums, more teams are choosing to use highly energy-efficient glass. The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, for instance, has large walls of energy-efficient glass that will keep out the Atlanta heat and help with cooling costs. MetLife Stadium in New York uses energy-efficient glass for its windows as well. And at the 49er’s stadium, they’ve taken efficient glass one step further into the future, by using dynamic “smart glass” for some windows. This glass changes its tint as needed to provide better lighting with less heat!

High Efficiency HVAC

Of course, one of the biggest consumers of energy for stadiums as well as homes is the HVAC system. Whether the stadium is enclosed or open (or both, as in the new Atlanta stadium), heating and cooling is needed not just on the field but in suites, offices, concession areas, facilities for players, and so on. Using high-efficiency HVAC systems is a major part of any “green” stadium’s sustainability plan.

Collecting Rainwater

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta makes their cooling system more efficient and sustainable by collecting their own water. The stadium is designed to collect rainwater into a million-gallon cistern, hidden out of site beneath the stadium. That water will then be used for irrigation as well as supplying water to the highly-efficient cooling system. The water-collection will also help the nearby neighborhoods, which have suffered from flooding during heavy rains for years. It’s truly a win-win situation!

Daikin HVAC Systems

At the Levi’s Stadium in California, one of the most technologically advanced and energy efficient stadiums in the world, the owners chose a Daikin HVAC system to help them achieve their goal of LEED Gold Certification. It includes twenty-one super-efficient air conditioning units as well as miles of ductwork and piping designed and installed by Daikin. The system utilizes variable flow and variable air volume technology in order to meet the demands of peak-energy-use days without wasting energy on lower-use days. Thanks to the Daikin HVAC system as well as their other energy-efficient and sustainable design choices, in 2014 the Levi’s Stadium became the first NFL stadium to earn LEED Gold Certification.

As you can see, there are many ways that NFL stadiums are becoming significantly more energy-efficient and sustainable. And many of these methods are ones that you can use in your own home! For instance, the LED lightbulbs you can buy for your own home use 75-80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Solar panels are becoming more cost-effective for homeowners, and there are tax incentive and rebate programs available for them. Replacing standard glass windows with energy-efficient ones can reduce your heating and cooling costs. And of course, technological advances in residential HVAC systems, like those built by Daikin, make new air conditioners and heat pumps significantly more energy-efficient than ones that are over ten years old.

See Also: Energy Star Rating