Sports arenas and stadiums are all about getting the most number of people to spend the maximum amount of money in the shortest amount of time possible.
Another rendering of Lincoln Financial Field, scheduled to be completed by September 2011.
But a growing number of sports buildings from Boston to Los Angeles are becoming efficient in other ways, by saving energy and reducing waste with solar panels, low-flush toilets and composting.
On Thursday, the Philadelphia Eagles announced perhaps the most ambitious green initiative yet: the installation of about 2,500 solar panels, 80 20-foot-high wind turbines and a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel so that Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles’ home, will be the first stadium capable of generating all its own electricity.
Becoming self-sufficient in energy is the latest in a string of environmentally friendly measures the Eagles have taken since they opened their stadium in 2003. (Coincidentally, the team’s primary color is green.) Since then, many teams have introduced similar efficiency programs, and the four major sports leagues have set up programs to help their teams share information about how to use less energy, reduce waste and save money.
As large as they are, sports stadiums consume just a sliver of the nation’s energy and produce a fraction of its waste. But they are seen and used by millions of Americans every day, which has helped leagues counter the perception that sports teams are wasteful enterprises and in fact can convey socially responsible messages to fans of all political and economic stripes.
The Eagles’ green efforts “underscore the position that we are all very visible and can make a significant effort in our communities,” said Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L. “We think it’s smart business and the right thing to do.”
To become self-sufficient, the Eagles have hired Solar Blue, a Florida-based company that will spend more than $30 million to install the solar panels, wind turbines and dual-fuel co-generation plant by the start of next season. Solar Blue chose vertical wind turbines because they produce less noise than bladed ones. They will also capture energy at night. The panels and turbines will meet about 25 percent of the stadium’s energy needs, with the generator covering the remainder, and will be visible to fans in the stadium, on television and to drivers passing by.