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Eagles & Pats: Head-to-Head for Eco-Cred

stadium NFL Super Bowl Eagles Patriots Vikings
Gillette Stadium (left) and Lincoln Financial Field (right). Credit: Gillette Stadium on Facebook and Lincoln Financial Field on Facebook

The New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles face off Sunday at the LEED Gold-certified US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII. But how do the teams’ home stadiums stack up environmentally? Let’s find out.

Gillette Stadium

Home of the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium began welcoming fans in 2002, replacing the old Foxborough Stadium in Massachusetts. The Kraft Group privately financed construction for $325 million and ISO 14001-certified Skanska USA Building Inc. won the contract.

The stadium project had multi-stakeholder involvement in order to achieve a sustainable building, both in its construction and operation, according to a Skanska case study sustainability from May 2008.

Features:

  • Restoration of a diverted river to a free-flowing natural river bed seeded with flora to attract wildlife
  • During construction, over 130,000 cubic yards of blasted open rock was processed and reused on the site
  • A wastewater system with an onsite wastewater treatment facility that reuses graywater for thousands of toilets in the building, saving millions of gallons of water each year
  • Energy-efficient hand dryers replaced paper towels for the stadium’s bathrooms in 2009, saving nearly 6.3 million paper towels and more than $50,000 annually, according to Excel Dryer
  • Timing devices in the electrical distribution system that automatically shut down non-essential lighting after hours

The 1.3 million-square-foot area Patriot Place, which includes a hotel, restaurants, and shopping, opened adjacent to the stadium in the fall of 2008. A megawatt solar installation currently provides 60% of Patriot Place’s electricity with an annual output of 1.1 million kilowatt hours, according to the Kraft Group.

In the second quarter of 2017, Patriot Place conserved: 206,694 kWh of electricity, 571 mature trees, 332,920 gallons of water, 477 cubic yards of landfill airspace, and 232 metric tons of GHG emissions.

Lincoln Financial Field

Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, opened in Philadelphia in 2003, replacing Veterans Stadium. Construction cost $520 million at the time and environmental considerations were there from the start. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and his wife Christina Weiss Lurie established the Go Green sustainability program in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2003. What began as a push to increase desk-side recycling has evolved into an all-encompassing environmental strategy across the team’s operations.

Features:

  • 100% of the team’s operations are powered by renewables, including 11,108 solar panels and 14 wind turbines installed around the field that produce 4 MW annually
  • The team installed a biodigester to decompose pre-consumer food waste that can process 330 pounds daily
  • Every year the Eagles recycle more than 850 tons of material from the stadium
  • Converted to 100% post-consumer recycled paper, savings of 10 tons of paper annually
  • More than 99% of the waste generated at the stadium is diverted from landfills
  • Invested in Orbio technology to produce a nontoxic cleaning and de-greasing agent from salt, reclaimed water, and electricity rather than using chemicals
  • Installed aerators that cut urinal water use in half
  • All of the Eagles’ RFPs mandate that vendors propose green-certified materials as standards, NRDC noted

“The grass clippings from the field are composted. Old cooking oil and grease are converted into biodiesel, which is brought back to power the stadium’s lawn mowers. Leftovers from the kitchen are donated to local shelters, and food waste is composted,” the Los Angeles Times reported in 2011. “If the team replaces a carpet, the contractor must explain how the old carpet will be recycled and specify how much recycled material is in the new one.”

Meeting in Minneapolis

The Pats and the Eagles meet at the LEED Gold-certified US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home of the Minnesota Vikings. The $1.1 billion stadium, which opened in 2016, has several environmental features.

LED sports lighting throughout consumes 75% less electricity than traditional metal halide lighting, as the Vikings point out. A sloped roof made from transparent ethylene tetrafluoroethyl (ETFE) reduces the need for daytime artificial lighting, provides passive solar heating, and acts like a natural snow melt system. However, one serious downside of the stadium’s exterior glass paneling has been a number of bird deaths, which prompted a three-year scientific study set to be released in 2019.

Other environmental aspects of the stadium include a reduction in the amount of steel required for construction, an emphasis on healthy cleaning products, renewable energy credits, and a sustainability program aiming for zero waste. For the Super Bowl, US Bank Stadium and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority are collaborating with the NFL, PepsiCo, and Aramark on a waste reduction effort called Rush2Recycle.

“We are proud that we will be the first Super Bowl to reach zero waste,” a Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority spokesperson told Environmental Leader. “This transition has taken planning, time, and significant commitment and hard work.”

The 3rd Annual Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference takes place May 15 – 17, 2018 in Denver. Learn more here.

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