Written by Malik Davies, University at Buffalo Office of Sustainability Student Assistant
Sports and Sustainability. Even for environmentally-conscious sports fans, not often enough do we see both words in the same sentence. It’s true that when encouraged to either promote sustainability or simply embrace it, most sports organizations have failed us and themselves. Nevertheless, teams are building new stadiums which are proving to be beacons for sustainability and green living as a whole.
Four of the seven stadiums on this list are either owned or being occupied by NFL teams. Most of the stadiums are in the US with the England, Australia and Taiwan being represented by one stadium each. Notable mentions go to U.S. Bank Stadium, Minnesota (scheduled to open in 2016), Estádio Nacional de Brasília, Brazil (a LEED Platinum certified building that is currently being underused), Marlins Park, Miami (Major League Baseball’s first stadium to be LEED gold certification), American Airlines Arena, Miami (received LEED Gold recertification earlier this year) and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta (under construction).
Starting from the seventh, here are the seven most sustainable stadiums:
This stadium has undergone so much change since first opening in 1924, becoming the first NFL stadium to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for Existing Buildings in 2012 after several renovations. It has been the home of the Chicago Bears for 44 years and is currently operated by SMG. Soldier Field meets its environmentally-conscious goals of providing a healthy and safe building for its occupants, through programs that promote lower operating costs, conservation of energy and water, and reduction in waste and harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
AAMI Park (aka Melbourne Rectangular Stadium):
Located in Melbourne, Australia, the AAMI park is one of the first rectangular stadiums of its kind. Since being completed in 2010, it has been largely used for hosting rugby and soccer games. Several sustainability-focused measures were taken into consideration during construction including the use of 50% less steel for the roof than a typical stadium. The stadium has many impressive environmental features including a rainwater collection system that saves as much as 500,000 gallons of water every year and the system can also provide four other venues in the precinct with water.
The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (aka Olympic Stadium)
This stadium is located in London, England and was constructed primarily for the 2012 Olympics. As with many of the stadiums on this list, the Olympic Stadium was built with a mission to continuously cultivate initiatives geared towards creating a sustainable development in tune with the world’s changing climate and resource needs.
Lincoln Financial Field:
Opened in 2003, the stadium is currently being used by the Temple University football team and the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. It was the first professional stadium in the US capable of generating all of its electricity on-site. The stadium is also a zero-waste facility, while the overall green program is now ‘cost neutral’ according to the team. Through the many programs of energy, water, and waste reduction, the stadium has seen a decreased electricity consumption and saved millions.
The host stadium for Super Bowl 50, Levi’s stadium is the home of the San Francisco 49ers and is arguably the most high-tech stadium around. The stadium is a LEED Gold certified building as 85% of its water comes from recycled sources and has a 15-20% reduced overall consumption from lighting due to LED use. Levi’s Stadium is also proud of its local food sourcing – with 78% of suppliers of stadium food located within 150 miles of the stadium, and 85% located within California.
National Stadium (formerly known as the World Games Stadium):
A stadium used mostly for soccer games since the end of the 2009 World Games, it is as aesthetically pleasing as it is sustainable. The roof has almost 9,000 solar panels which power the entire stadium as well as helping to create additional money through selling the surplus energy and can potentially generate enough electricity every year to power up to 80% of the surrounding neighborhood.
Metlife Stadium (formerly known as New Meadowland Stadium):
Opened in April 2010, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets was constructed in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This partnership with the EPA has resulted in reducing energy, water and solid waste production across its entire operations, including the use of aggressive recycling programs, low flow faucets, toilets and waterless urinals in rest rooms, food composting, and mass transit alternatives. This stadium is set to be a shining example for the sustainability standard that should be desired in sports for the many more years as it undergoes nonstop improvements.
It leaves little to be desired that over half of the world’s current stadiums are either underutilized or archaic; but the current trend of building sustainable stadiums means that we are developing much more efficient construction methods and architects are becoming more environmentally-conscious. The stadiums are also being used efficiently after construction through reduced electricity use, water use and output waste. The future of sustainability in sports surely looks brighter.