It's hard to not admire the grandeur of an event the size of the Super Bowl. But have you ever thought about the amount of energy used during the event, and what is done with all of the waste? And what about all of the people who watch from home or at large parties? Well, this year you can breathe a sigh of relief, as the NFL and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey are taking a holistic approach to significantly minimize the environmental impact of the Super Bowl.
For the past two decades, the NFL has worked to reduce the environmental impact of the country's most popular sporting event. What began as a small recycling initiative has exploded into a widespread sustainability effort. Thousands of trees are planted near the host stadium each year to support forestry projects and to help offset the environmental footprint of the game and its celebrations. In 2012, the Super Bowl's green initiatives offset more than 29 million pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 25 million flat screen TVs watching the three- to four-hour game.
Environmentally friendly concessions
Providing food and drinks for more than 80,000 attendees is no easy task, and can result in a mountain of waste. To keep fans entertained and full without putting enormous strain on the environment, MetLife Stadium holds more than 200 restaurants and concession stands and is the first stadium to earn status as a Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association.
For the big game, Styrofoam containers will not be used to hold any food items, all food waste will be composted and efforts to recycle plastic, glass, aluminum and paper products will be increased. In addition, these green practices extend into the kitchen, where all waste oil from cooking will be converted into biodiesel fuel. Lastly, all unused food will be donated to food pantries.
Renewable energy helps offset the weekend's festivities
Super Bowl weekend requires more energy than just powering the stadium on game day. There are numerous Super Bowl parties, gatherings and hotels hosting players and spectators, each of which have their own energy demands. To help account for and offset some of these events, New Jersey utility Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) has agreed to purchase one renewable energy certificate (REC) for every megawatt hour of electricity used at Super Bowl-related venues. The utility projects it will buy almost 6,000 RECs, the equivalent of just under 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Most of these RECs will be purchased from a wind farm in Atlantic City, while the rest will come from New Jersey-based solar farms.
Throughout its design and construction, MetLife Stadium was intended to be a green stadium. When it was built, the stadium management signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be an environmental steward. Despite being twice the size of the stadium it replaced, MetLife Stadium consumes 30 percent less energy. So as you sit down to watch this year's game, think about what you can do to go green like the NFL.