Welcome to the 2018 Sustainability Super Bowl!
By Chris Gillespie
Since both the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles have impressive records when it comes to conserving resources and utilizing renewable energy, we’ve decided to pit them against each other once more to see which team is truly greener.
Since G.E.T. is based in New England, we’ll start with the Patriots:
Patriots Place, the sprawling “super-regional lifestyle destination” adjacent to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA, has more than 2,600 rooftop photovoltaic solar panels as well as solar canopies, which, according to Patriots Place’s website, “provide up to 60% of Patriot Place’s power and reduce carbon emissions by more than 800 metric tons every year.” According to a report from Patriot Place, during the second quarter of 2017, the shopping and dining center conserved nearly 207,000 kWh of electricity, 333,000 gallons of water and 232 metric tons of GHG emissions.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, “100% of the Eagles operations are powered by the sun and wind.” As stated on the team’s website, The Eagles partnered with NRG to design, construct and operate 11,108 solar panels and 14 wind turbines at Lincoln Financial Field. Vigorous waste management, composting and recycling procedures help the Eagles keep over 99% of waste generated in the stadium out of landfills. The Eagles have also planted 568 trees over the past ten years in order to offset emissions caused by all of the team’s travel. Lincoln Financial Field is considered to be ‘off the grid’ as a result of their on-site production of green energy and their green power purchasing agreement.
So, we know the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, but who wins the 2018 Sustainability Super Bowl?
The scoreboard says…it’s the Philadelphia Eagles again! As it turns out, they are as green as their uniforms!
Sustainability at U.S. Bank Stadium
As 103.4 million Super Bowl viewers around the country now know, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis looks quite futuristic—what they may not know is that it is also one of the most state-of-the-art, sustainable sports facilities in the country.
As reported on the Minnesota Vikings’ official website, at its opening in 2016, U.S. Bank Stadium became the first NFL venue to be built with an advanced LED lighting system that allows for instant on-and-off capabilities while using 75% less energy compared to metal halide lights.
The LED lighting system is impressive; however, the Vikings plan on minimizing its use by taking advantage of the immense amount of natural lighting that the facility’s extraordinary roof provides. More than half of U.S. Bank Stadium’s roof covering is made of a clear, plastic-like material called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), which facilitates the use of sunlight as a free year-round source of natural heat and light for the stadium. By using a lightweight building material such as ETFE instead of conventional steel, the Vikings were able to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the stadium’s construction process.
Generally, stadiums built in areas with snowy winters require a lot of steel to support their roofs, however, the domed shape of U.S. Bank Stadium’s roof made it possible to forgo an estimated 2,000 tons of steel. The steep, asymmetrical design allows snow to quickly roll down the roof and into a giant, heated snow gutter that brings the water straight to the stadium’s storm water control system.
In addition to this, low-flow plumbing technology is expected to reduce U.S. Bank Stadium’s water usage by 5.67 million gallons annually.
PyeongChang 2018 Organizers Hoping To Medal in Sustainability
With host cities building expansive new facilities and athletic teams and spectators travelling from around the globe in order to attend, the Olympic Games typically result in a very large carbon footprint. With this in mind, the organizers of this month’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang have worked to minimize the international celebration’s toll on the environment.
“Since we won the bid to host the Games, sustainability and the environment have been at the heart of our plans and procedures,” said Teachul Rhyu, PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) Director General of Environment. “Our venues and infrastructure have all been completed to the necessary standards and we will continue to focus on our sustainability goals throughout the Games and beyond to leave the legacy that the Games deserve.”
POCOG has also launched a fundraising website, CarbonFund2018.com, which allows Olympic participants and visitors to make donations to purchase internationally-traded Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to help offset the significant carbon emissions associated with the Games. Olympic guests will also be able to make donations in-person at a donation center at the Olympic Park in Gangneung.
Reducing the Olympics carbon emissions is a goal shared by the International Olympic Committee and athletes alike. One such athlete is Andy Newell, one of many Vermonters who will be representing Team USA in PyeongChang as a member of the Olympic cross-country ski team.
“Embracing sustainability is something we all need to see as important if we value the future of winter sports,” Newell told G.E.T. in a recent interview. “In my opinion, it’s all about finding the balance between reducing our footprint (as winter athletes) and consuming less but not neglecting an industry than needs innovation.”
Newell says that ski resorts could, in theory, stop making snow and stop grooming the trails completely in order to significantly reduce the industry’s carbon footprint but snow sports as a whole would suffer due to the subsequent lack of accessibility and interest. According to Newell, one of the best ways for winter athletes to enact change is by using their platform to spread environmental awareness to young people.
“I often visit high schools on behalf of Protect Our Winters,” Newell said. “These kids are the ones who will be voting in just a few years and if I can connect with them, it has the potential to have the biggest impact and create the cultural shift towards sustainability that we so desperately need in the U.S.”
In addition to being a celebration of skill and culture, hopefully this year’s Winter Olympics will serve as a reminder to viewers worldwide that, although our athletes compete against international athletes, we are really all on the same team. Regardless of nationality, it’s up to all of us to support one another as we develop and implement solutions, both creative and commonsense, for the hefty environmental challenges we as a species face in professional sports and beyond.
Best of luck to all members of Team USA!
To learn more about sustainability at the Olympics, check out “Going for Green at the Olympics” on page 38.
For the complete list of winter athletes aligned with Protect Our Winters, visit www.protectourwinters.org/riders-alliance.
Chris Gillespie is a contributing writer for Green Energy Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.