There’s no denying that sustainability offers not only a winning strategy for environmental protection but for the reduction of operation costs as well. As such, many sports organizations like the NFL and MLB have put their own colors aside in recent years to jump on board with the “green team” and renovate America’s stadiums to feature a variety of technologies for clean energy.
Most recently, plans were announced this week for a solar installation at FedExField, home of the Washington Redskins. Design firm DLR Group and NRG Energy will collaborate to install 8,000 panels across 850 spaces in the stadium’s Platinum A1 Parking Lot—which will generate up to two megawatts (MW) of electricity—and about 200 translucent solar panels will be placed on the exterior of the NRG entry plaza at Gate A pedestrian entry ramp. The plaza entrance also will house two sculptures of football players created with thin film solar technology to produce even more energy for the stadium.
Additionally, 10 electric vehicle charging stations from NRG’s eVgosm charging network will be added to the grounds and kiosks in parking lot A1 and the NRG entry plaza on the west corner of FedExField will provide fans with information about renewable energy and NRG clean energy solutions. The project will be complete this September in time for the 2011 NFL football season.
Also set for a September completion is an energy-saving endeavor which will allow Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles, to become the world’s first sports stadium to fully convert to self-generated renewable energy. Solar Blue will cover the stadium’s façade with 2,500 solar panels, set 80 20-foot wind turbines atop the stadium rim, and operate a 7.6 megawatt onsite dual-fuel cogeneration plant to save an estimated $60 million in energy costs. All of the technologies will be controlled via an executed monitoring and switching technology.
The Seattle Seahawks announced in May that they are striving to decrease their carbon footprint, too. Solyndra solar panels will be installed by McKinstry to the roof of Qwest Field. The thin-film, tube-shaped CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, and selenide) solar cells will cover 2½ acres (80 percent) of the stadium. Light reflecting off the stadium’s existing “cool roof”—which serves to reduce heat absorption—should add to the production of electricity as it is captured by the new panels. Qwest Field’s utility costs are expected to shrink by 21 percent. The project expects completion sometime this summer.
Solar Blue has also held a relationship with the Boston Red Sox. GroSolar installed a solar thermal system manufactured by Heliodyne Incorporated on the roof of Fenway Park’s fifth floor media level in 2008. Thirty-seven percent of the gas used for heating is offset by the system, avoiding 18 tons of CO2 emissions. (The amount of emissions conserved can be compared to not driving a car for 43,611 miles!) Solar Blue is now considered the official energy conservation partner of the baseball team and Fenway Park.
Across the country from the Red Sox lies the first existing ballpark to attain LEED Silver status, San Francisco’s AT&T Park. In 2007, Solar Design Associates was commissioned by the Giants baseball team to install 590 Sharp solar panels to supply energy to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers in the San Francisco area. The stadium’s Diamond Vision scoreboard also is sustainable—it uses 78 percent less energy than the ballpark's original scoreboard.
It’s great to see that sporting venues are picking up the pace on sustainable design, especially since they hold such a prominent spot in the public eye. But it seems that these types of projects still have a long way to go when it comes to transitioning to the greener side of the fence. Why do you think stadiums have been so slow to renovate to decrease their carbon footprint? What can designers do to encourage facility managers and team owners to invest in green design?