A typical NFL stadium uses enough electricity in a year to power about 1,000 average U.S. homes, leaving some football teams with annual power bills of more than a million dollars.
Two NFL franchises, the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks are investing in renewable energy to save money and help the environment, inspiring players to take on some of their own green initiatives. For instance, Washington linebacker Lorenzo Alexander not only supports the team’s efforts, he has a green lifestyle of his own, driving a hybrid Toyota Prius to practice every day.
FedEx Field, the home of the Redskins, is now getting 20 percent of its electricity on game days – and 100 percent on other days – from a new solar array in the parking lot, the largest in the league. Redskins owner Dan Snyder says it was an opportunity for his team to set an example for the rest of the league, as well as other types of businesses.
In Seattle, the Seahawks installed the NFL’s first stadium solar array — 4,000 tube-shaped panels atop a building next to CenturyLink Field. The team uses the solar array and a centralized control system that allows the team to not only control every light and scoreboard in the stadium but use energy more efficiently, cutting annual usage by more than 20 percent. It was the Seahawks owner and Microsoft cofounder, Paul Allen, who initiated the move toward greening the stadium. He is a driving force behind the greening of all professional sports. His Green Sports Alliance Summit in Portland this summer drew representatives from the NFL as well as other sports.
The alliance’s co-founder, Alan Hershkowitz, says his group found that 18 percent of Americans say they pay attention to science, while 56 percent of Americans say they pay attention to sports. He believes putting solar panels on football stadiums will send a message to supply chains that green energy is a worthwhile investment.
The clean energy kick is apparently catching on among Redskins fans. Washington, D.C., has won the EPA’s first ever Green Power Community Challenge for using the most green power in a year. D.C.’s businesses, residents, and government used enough renewable power to meet 8 percent of the city’s total electricity use.
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Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.