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Published on January 29th, 2015 | by Silvio Marcacci

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Will Super Bowl XLIX Be The Greenest Super Bowl In History?

January 29th, 2015 by  


Media days, star-studded halftime shows, and million-dollar television ads traditionally dominate the news leading up to every Super Bowl, but it’s probably time to add a new tradition to the list: Annual “Greenest Super Bowl Ever” claims.

This trend has picked as Americans become more involved with environmental and climate issues, and this year Super Bowl XLIX is primed to score as perhaps the greenest sporting event yet.

shutterstock_69977863

NFL field image via Shutterstock

From solar and wind energy, to LED lights, landfill diversion, and even both teams playing in the actual game, the 2015 Super Bowl is set to score big for sports sustainability.

A 100% Wind Powered Super Bowl

As with most CleanTechnica post, this one starts with renewable energy. While Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium doesn’t have any on-site solar or wind power resources, local utility Salt River Project (SRP) has agreed to provide all of the big game’s electricity needs with 100% wind power.

Since renewable electrons can’t actually go to any one specific location (they follow demand across the grid), SRP will purchase renewable energy credits from wind farms equal to the estimated $300,000 in electricity demand generated by all Super Bowl events across Phoenix for the week around the game within SRP’s service territory.

That’s a great story, but it’s also related to a controversial proposal by SRP to increase rates for their customers with installed solar by $50 or more per month. SRP does have a 20% renewable energy by 2020 target, so hopefully their renewable energy goodwill carries over from the game into their final decision on solar fees in late February.

Energy Efficiency, Recycling Boost Greenest Super Bowl Claim

Regardless of how green the Super Bowl’s energy is, the game will require  less electricity than previous games because of extensive energy efficiency measures at University of Phoenix Stadium – in fact, it will be the first Super Bowl played completely under LED lighting.

The stadium’s original lighting system consisted of 780 metal halide fixtures, which required 1.2 million kilowatts (kW) to light the stadium, but were recently replaced by 312 high-efficiency LED fixtures requiring just 310kW – roughly 25% previous demand for much more powerful lighting! In addition to LEDs, the stadium also features 500 motion sensors to reduce wasted energy.

In addition to energy efficiency measures, the NFL is implementing a series of waste reduction and recycling measures to divert trash from landfills. University of Phoenix Stadium already recycles about 120 tons of waste each year, but the effort is expanding to create zero waste from the 12-block “Super Bowl Central” downtown area, including donating unused food and event materials to local groups.

The Solar Super Bowl?

And while the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots’ primary focus will be winning the NFL’s Lombardi Trophy, they’ll also be deciding the outcome of the “Solar Super Bowl.”

New England has one megawatt (MW) of solar arrays installed at Foxboro Stadium, and Seattle has roughly 800kW of solar capacity at CenturyLink Field, ranking them fifth and sixth respectively for installed solar energy among all major sports franchises. (Check out the video below to see the Seahawks’ solar panels in action)

They’re both part of a larger clean energy trend in the NFL, which has ten solar facilities, the most in professional American sports. The Philadelphia Eagles lead the league in installed solar capacity with 3MW, so even if they’re watching the Super Bowl from home, they can still claim first place in sustainability!

 
 
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About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.



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