This past December, many prominent leaders came together in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Their aim was to reduce aspects of climate change. One universal goal involved a strong effort in adapting renewable energy, an increase of which puts the Paris conference’s goals in reach by 2030.
In the United States, one of the key cogs for a meaningful response to climate change involves stadiums in major sports. After all, during a game day Cowboys Stadium uses more electricity than the entire country of Liberia. While all stadiums aren’t as glitzy or energy-consuming as “Jerry’s world,” it’s certainly indicative of the high amount of electricity that stadiums in general use.
Within all the major sports, adapting stadiums to renewable energy and other environmentally friendly aspects will have a positive impact on climate change initiatives. While this goal is still a work-in-progress for the majority of stadiums in the world, a few great stadiums in the United States are already quite environmentally friendly:
Lincoln Financial Field
The home of the Eagles ranks first on many lists for the NFL’s most environmentally friendly stadium, for good reason. The stadium touts the largest solar-power capacity in the entire NFL, as well as the entire city of Philadelphia. With 14 micro-wind turbines and 11 thousand solar panels, the stadium can pump out over three MW of energy.
The stadium offers a convincing point for other stadiums considering renewable energy, as Lincoln Financial Field has reduced electricity consumption by over 33 percent, saving around 170 trees each year.
The Seattle Seahawks have a long history of pushing green-friendly efforts like the formation of the Green Sports Alliance. It makes sense that their home — CenturyLink Field — can claim to be the only stadium in pro sports with an EnergyStar Portfolio Manager Partner Certification.
A big reason for this is the array of 1,350 solar panels outside the stadium, which produces 830,000 kWh of energy. Another energy-saver: the stadium’s use of LED light bulbs.
NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway
You can’t say that many stadiums have an adjacent solar farm powering their facilities. You can say it for NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, though, as a 3MW solar farm generates power for the raceway in addition to around a thousand nearby households. The 25-acre solar farm consists of 40 thousand PV modules and production is expected to exceed 72 million kWh in the next two decades.
The raceway has earned acclaim for its energy usage and locally bolstering energy benefits, winning awards such as the Readers Choice Award, presented by RenewableEnergyWorld.com, the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence and the Excellence in Renewable Energy Awards.
“It is amazing to see the amount of energy produced by the solar farm in this short period of time,” said Pocono Raceway President/CEO Brandon Igdalsky. “To put the amount of energy produced into layman’s terms, the solar farm has saved over 1,215,000 gallons of fuel. This would equal 121,500 trips from New York City or Philadelphia to Pocono Raceway in a vehicle, such as an RV, using 10 miles per gallon of gasoline.”
TCF Bank Stadium
University of Minnesota is proud of its environmentally friendly TCF Bank Stadium, which hosts their Golden Gophers football team. The stadium is the first LEED-certified college football stadium, hopefully setting a precedent for the college sports scene. The stadium’s construction process involved using 97 percent recycled steel.
These four stadiums show an increased effort among various major sports, from professional and college football to NASCAR. They all retain a unique individual charm — like the horseshoe shape of TCF Bank Stadium or ambience of the Pocono Raceway — while being successful in their eco-friendly efforts. The future will likely show even more initiatives incorporating renewable energy. This may include an increased focus on using crystalline solar panels instead of thin panels because they generate more energy per square foot.
While crystalline isn’t currently very popular in the U.S., impressive stadium efforts — like Thyagraj Stadium in India and Arena Pernambuco in Brazil — have shown that mono-crystalline panels have a high-efficiency result. Crystalline panels and other forward-thinking technology will likely be seen in stadiums with increasing frequency over the next decade or so, which is good news for anyone concerned with climate change.