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Home Field: MetLife Stadium

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When MetLife Stadium replaced Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in 2010, it retained one of its predecessor’s prime sustainability elements: being home to two NFL teams – the New York Giants and the New York Jets. Two teams sharing one stadium, instead of operating separate facilities, inherently has a positive environmental impact. 

Photo Courtesy New York Giants Photos 

MetLife, however, represents a major environmental improvement over Giants Stadium, and that was the plan from the start. Stadium officials signed an agreement with the EPA that established sustainability guidelines for the stadium’s construction and operations involving waste management, water and energy conservation, and carbon footprint reduction. 

“From the very beginning, our owners committed to build and operate one of the most environmentally responsible stadiums in the National Football League,” stated Brad Mayne, MetLife Stadium President and CEO. To start with, the stadium is located on rehabilitated land. During construction, clean diesel and low sulfur fuel vehicles, leading to a 13% reduction in particulate materials. 40,000 tons of recycled steel was used to build the stadium, with half of that coming from the old Giants Stadium. Overall, 100,000 tons of concrete and other materials were repurposed from the old stadium. The eco-commitment even extended to the seats, which are composed of 20% post-consumer plastics and 80% iron.

Rather than throw out Giant Stadium’s old turf, it was recycled for use in gyms and other athletic facilities. Choosing synthetic turf also saved 3.5 million gallons of water annually at MetLife Stadium. By the time construction was finished, the EPA had already certified MetLife as one of the NFL’s greenest stadiums.

Although twice the size as Giants Stadium, MetLife (which, by the way, is the NFL’s largest stadium), uses 25% less water and 30% less energy along with lowering solid waste production by almost a quarter. 

Water conservation was achieved through various strategies, from installing water filtration fountains to sensor faucets, low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets. Going with waterless urinals in men’s rooms, for example, saved 2.7 million gallons of water. Planting native species and upgrading to a high-efficiency irrigation system dropped annual water use by 700,000 gallons, while using decomposed granite for landscaping medians lowered it another million gallons. 

MetLife’s extensive recycling program features a post-game process that separates out the recyclables, compostable, and trash materials. Recycling was promoted by placing bins both placed inside and outside the stadium, and special bags for recyclables and trash were handed out to tailgaters to encourage their participation. By 2016, nearly 900 bales of aluminum and PET plastics had been bundled for recycling along with 500 tons of recyclable cardboard. These efforts led the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to recognize MetLife for its “Outstanding Achievement in Recycling.” 

Photo Courtesy New York Giants Photos

MetLife Stadium also was chosen by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) as its first Certified Green Restaurant stadium. GRA CEO Michael Oshman hailed MetLife for setting “the environmental bar for stadiums and sporting events the world over.Styrofoam and paper productions have been replaced in the concession areas with compostable serving items. Compostable food waste is collected from concession areas and stadium kitchens and pantries. Leftover food, typically amounting to a couple tons per season, gets donated to food banks. Waste kitchen oil, meanwhile, gets converted into biodiesel fuel.

The stadium was the first in the NFL with an in-house in-vessel composter, which helps MetLife manage its own food waste. More than 74 tons of waste was diverted from landfills over the stadium’s first half-dozen years. Fewer truck trips to landfills shrink the stadium’s carbon footprint too. MetLife estimates that its recycling programs have resulted in conserving 11,678 cubic yards of landfill airspace, saving 21,565 mature trees and preventing around 10,000 metric tons of GHG emissions. 

A comprehensive makeover was crucial in getting MetLife ranked among NFL’s most energy-efficient stadiums. Stocking the stadium’s offices, concession stands, and kitchens with Energy Star equipment and appliances decreased electrical demand. Adding 300 E-cube devices to control thermostats and a technologically advanced HVAC system further reduced energy waste, and low-e window coating improved insulation. Going with LED lighting cuts electrical use by approximately 1,045,643 kWh per year, while MetLife’s high-tech lighting control system saves around 130,000 kWh. 

MetLife’s best distinctive design feature is the Solar Ring powering these lights. The first of its kind, the Solar Ring, is composed of 1,350 solar panels situated in 47 panels that line the stadium’s roof. It generates 350kW of solar energy, more than enough to power its LED lights and the stadium’s daily electricity demand – the excess power gets returned to the grid.

The amount of electricity the Solar Ring produces annually equates to taking 53 cars off the road each year.  

MetLife further combats air pollution by providing fans with a train alternative to driving a car to a game. With the stadium’s opening, NJ Transit established a train station that primarily services fans going and returning from MetLife. Fans take the train to remove approximately 2,000-3,000 cars driven to games. 

In 2009, the New York Giants and New York Jets pledged to make sustainability a key component of MetLife Stadium, and that pledge still is evident today. Earlier this year, MetLife Stadium became the first NFL stadium to become a member of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Sports for Climate Action Framework, aiming to reduce GHG emissions.


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