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NFL Scores With Sustainability

Bigger. Louder. More Efficient?

April 17th 2020

Professional sports franchises are known for sustaining pride and a spirit of competition among America’s greatest cities. For all the energy these modern sports temples build in the community, they use a lot as well. But these days, sustainability is becoming competitive among various teams, as franchises seek greener ways to power operations and maximize fan experience.

When the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons opened their newly remodeled stadium in 2017 they did so with the installation of 4,000 solar panels. Georgia Power, the longtime energy partner of the Falcons who provided the panels, serves over 2.5 million citizens in Georgia including all but four of the state’s 159 counties. 

The Falcons organization long envisioned being a leader in the professional sports world in sustainability. That vision became a reality in November of 2017 when Mercedes-Benz Stadium became the first professional sports venue to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEED) Platinum sustainability certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED certificate is the global standard for measuring the sustainability of buildings. 

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and the owners of Mercedes-Benz Stadium showed a clear commitment to ensuring optimal environmental performance, investing nearly $1.6 billion in energy efficiency measures including the installation of the 4,000 solar panels, as well as LED lighting and LED video boards. 

“We set out to build a venue that would not only exceed expectations but also push the limits of what was possible in terms of stadium design, fan experience and sustainability,” Blank said upon the stadium being awarded the platinum certificate. “We set a goal of achieving the highest LEED rating because it was the right thing to do for our city and the environment. With this achievement, we have a powerful new platform to showcase to the industry and to our fans that building sustainably and responsibly is possible for a venue of any type, size and scale.”

Blank’s decision to invest major resources into sustainability was rooted in both improving the fan experience and creating an environmental-friendly venue. The stadium, which played host to Super Bowl LIII in 2019, has a capacity of 75,000 fans for NFL games.

The arena’s clean energy design has already made an impact.  The stadium features 82,5000 square feet of LED lighting, which lasts 10 times longer than standard lights and reduces energy usage by up to 60 percent. Simultaneously its solar panels alone have reduced energy consumption by 29 percent compared to the average professional sports stadium. 

The solar installation generates  1.6 kilowatt-hours of power weekly, enough for six Falcon home games. The panels are spread throughout the complex with most on the roof but others at ticket entryways and parking lot canopies for maximum visibility. 

Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s infrastructure and design go beyond just pioneering the industry in energy efficiency. The implementation of water-efficient fixtures as well as the conservation infrastructure have allowed Mercedes-Benz Stadium to use 47 percent less water than the average professional sports stadium. Additionally, the stadium was built with a stormwater management system that has the capacity to hold over two million gallons to help prevent flooding in the surrounding area. The stormwater, in turn, is then used for cooling.And outside the stadium visitors can use public charging vehicle stations, which can charge up to 48 cars at a single time. 

Since opening its doors to ticket holders only a few years ago Mercedes-Benz Stadium has raised the bar when it comes to constructing sustainable venues. As more team owners  consider revamping their home stadiums in the future it’s a sure bet they’ll look to the Atlanta stadium for inspiration.

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