Green Corner: Football makes a ‘green’ touchdown

Football is no longer just about beer, cheerleaders and touchdowns. Stadiums across the country, both at the collegiate as well as the professional level, have started going green. But what does that mean? The Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is the perfect example for what it means to “go green.”

In 2003, the Eagles started to realize that their “green” nature should apply to more than just the color of their team. Executives, both of the Eagles franchise and the Lincoln Financial Field, decided that it was time to bring their “green” spirit into everything they did. The Eagles have taken drastic measures to ensure that they are leading Philadelphia, as well as other football franchises and stadiums, into a “green” revolution.

“The Linc” has radically changed how it uses its resources and disposes of its trash over the past few years. Rather than throwing away all of the excess food after a game, it now composts it, which diverts tons of waste from landfills. The new beverage cups that fans guzzle soda and beer from are made out of corn; this keeps 40,000 pounds of plastic out of landfills. The stadium now also uses plates, bowls and trays made from sugarcane. Ever wonder what happens to all the grease used to fry the chicken and fries fans eat during halftime? The used cooking grease is now converted into biodiesel, which is then used to power equipment.

These little gestures are not just used to make the Eagles look good; between 2008 and 2010, the amount of recycled materials collected from the stadium has increased 167%. This includes over 467 tons of recyclable material. In 2010 alone, the Eagles recycled more than 360,000 pounds of bottles and cans, as well as diverted 140 tons of compostable waste from landfills — a 248% increase over the amount composted in 2009.

The latest addition to the green technology used at “the Linc” is the installation of wind turbines. In 2010, thousands of solar panels and wind turbines were installed. If you’re ever driving along I-95, you can see them on top of the stadium. The power coming from these, plus the help of a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel, is enough to run an Eagles game without any outside power. “The Linc” is the first stadium capable of generating all of its own electricity. Remember the blackout during the Superbowl this year? That will never happen to the Eagles, thanks to their green technology. The stadium currently produces more energy than needed per game; this excess should allow the team to save $60 million in energy costs. These energy conservation efforts have cut the stadium’s annual energy usage nearly in half.

The Eagles are not the only ones “going green,” as it turns out. The New York Jets’ MetLife stadium will be installing solar power and the New England Patriots’ stadium is adding solar and wind technologies in order to be more environmentally friendly. The Santa Clara Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, will be the first professional football stadium to open with LEED certifications. This stadium will be the first ever to achieve net zero energy performance.

Although football does have a winner and a loser, it seems that being environmentally conscious is a game in which everyone is willing to compete. The Eagles’ chief operating officer Don Smolenski stated that the Eagles are “trying to be leaders in this area, and if that inspires others to try and catch us … it’s one of those things where everybody wins.”

Bess Anne Ploener

Westminster Eco-Rep

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