U.S. sports arenas go green, with the Philadelphia Eagles leading the charge

The Philadelphia Eagles, a professional football team, has been working since 2003 to make sure that energy consumed at its stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, does not harm the environment.

Today, 100 percent of the stadium’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources. And everything is recycled — even the forks and knives are made from corn-based plastics and recyclable.

Being green “is part of our staff’s DNA now,” said Eagles GoGreen! spokesman Norman Vossschulte.

It takes about 10 megawatts to power the team’s stadium for a year, and the stadium produces 4 megawatts of its own energy. The rest comes from green energy, mostly wind, Vossschulte said.

Electricity consumption has been cut in half since 2004 by using energy-saving LED lights and putting heat and air conditioning systems on timers.

In 2013, the Eagles’ green efforts were rewarded when the stadium earned “LEED certification,” the U.S. Green Business Council’s seal of approval for green buildings. The term stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The stadium earned Silver certification (Platinum is the highest; see sidebar).

What is LEED?
A building that is “LEED-certified” means it was built meeting high environmental standards. The program uses a point system. The more points, the higher the level of certification:
– Platinum: 80+ points
– Gold: 60-79 points
– Silver: 50-59 points
– Certified: 40-49 points

The Philadelphia Eagles led the way, but here are a few other pioneers in the greening of U.S. professional sports arenas:

Sacramento Kings Basketball

Workers preparing a new stadium for opening (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

The Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California, will be the first sports venue in North America to be powered 100 percent by solar energy when it opens in fall 2016. Its design uses natural cooling to reduce energy use, helping it to earn LEED Gold certification.

Washington Nationals Baseball

Baseball fans dressed in Nationals apparel leaving stadium (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

When Nationals Park opened in Washington in 2008, it made history by becoming the nation’s first major sports facility to achieve LEED certification. Steel with 95 percent recycled content was used in its construction. And it has a green roof — 585 square meters of it.

San Francisco Giants Baseball

Fans watching baseball game with Pacific Ocean as backdrop to stadium (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

Completed in 2000, AT&T Park was the first Major League Baseball stadium to install solar panels and to receive LEED Silver certification. It achieved LEED Gold status in 2015. The solar panels provide enough power to supply 5,200 homes across San Francisco.

Seattle Seahawks Football and Sounders Soccer

Teams lining up on red carpet over football field with seated crowd in stadium (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

Some 35 percent of the concrete used to construct the CenturyLink came from the stadium it replaced in 2002: the demolished Kingdome Stadium. Nearly 100 percent of waste is diverted, and 19 million liters of biodiesel fuel were produced in 2014 from recycled cooking oil.

New York Giants and Jets Football

Fans watching a soccer match at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, is more than twice as large as the old stadium that it replaced in 2010, but it has reduced energy use by 30 percent through energy-efficient practices. In 2012 some 1,350 solar panels were installed.

Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey

Lights illuminating an ice hockey rink (© AP Images)
(© AP Images)

The Consol Center was the first National Hockey League arena awarded LEED Gold certification in North America. Builders used recycled materials in its construction in 2010 and diverted waste from landfills.


All of these teams are part of the Green Sports Alliance, which has a membership of 377 professional and university sports teams and venues from 20 different sports leagues and 14 countries.