2014 marked an important year for energy efficiency in the NFL. Super Bowl XLVIII, hosted by the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, was the first Super Bowl to be lit by LED lighting. The stadium retrofitted 312 LED light fixtures, which replaced more than 780 metal halide high intensity discharge (HID) fixtures.
On February 7, the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will face off in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. The stadium opened in August 2014 and was the first stadium to achieve LEED Gold certification at opening. Levi’s Stadium uses 85% recycled water, an industry first, as well as 20,000 SF of solar panels. The Stadium also uses 40% LED lighting for general lighting needs, but installed metal halide lamps illuminate the stadium itself. While Levi’s does not use LED lighting for on field illumination, Super Bowl 50 is estimated to be the more environmentally friendly to date. In partnership with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), much of the energy needed to power Super Bowl-related events and activities will be generated from renewable energy. Where renewable power is not practical, renewable energy credits will be used. The Super Bowl committee has also worked with the city to promote public transportation and will utilize carsharing programs. Water filling stations provided by FloWater and US Pure Water will be used, as no single-use plastic will be available. After the game, there will efforts to distribute unused food to food banks and donate building material, décor, signs, and more to local organizations.
What other stadiums have seen the (LED) light?
Many stadiums were slow to adopt LED lights due to the higher costs. By 2014, however, the additional costs for LEDs were minimized because of the technology’s increased life span and reduced maintenance. Since then, many stadiums have started transitioning to LED lighting. In addition to the University of Phoenix Stadium, the NRG Stadium, home to the Houston Texans, also installed LEDs in 2014. In January 2015, Ephesus Lighting, Inc., the company responsible for the LED lights in Arizona, announced it will be providing LEDs for the U.S. Bank Stadium set to open in 2016. The stadium, home to the Minnesota Vikings, is expected to cut electricity use by 75% by utilizing LEDs.
Beyond LED lighting, NFL stadiums have taken alternative steps to curb energy consumption. Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia has a solar array with more than 11,000 panels as well as 14 micro wind-turbines. Combined, these systems generate four times the amount of energy consumed during all home games. The Seattle Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field has 1,350 solar panels on the ring of the stadium and replaced its striking light display with LED bulbs. These improvements save the stadium roughly 21% of its utility costs annually. MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010 and is home to the New York Giants and Jets, has reduced energy consumption by 30%. The stadium utilizes an automated lighting control system and energy efficient window coatings to reduce heat. Gillette Stadium, home to last year’s Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots, has both solar panels and wind turbines. The 3,000-panel solar canopy generates 60% of the energy used in the Patriot Place shopping center that sits adjacent to the stadium.
While many NFL stadiums have installed LED lighting or employed other energy efficient measures, there is still room for improvement. The NFL’s revenue for the 2014-2015 season was $12 billion. Initial costs should not be a limiting factor for NFL teams in retrofitting their stadiums. The NFL has had its share of bad publicity lately, including domestic violence, drugs, and cheating. Why not change the public’s perception of such an influential sports league by implementing a requirement and allocating funds to stadiums to increase energy efficacy?