The National Resource Defense Council has been partnered with the National Football League's Green Team since 2008 to develop sustainable practices throughout the league. For the NRDC, this is part of a larger nation-wide effort to reduce the environmental impact of all professional sports leagues including tennis (USTA), basketball (NBA) and baseball (MLB).
In the NFL, the Green Team Mission Statement is as follows:
To help ensure that the NFL acts as a responsible steward of the environment by using resources efficiently and minimizing waste. The Green Team's goal is to help improve the NFL's use and management of energy, waste, and water at NFL facilities and events, and by providing a set of best practices to NFL clubs.
The transition has been gradual, as we would expect from what we've seen in other industries, but some teams are making more progress than others.
Most notably, the Philadelphia Eagles have installed 80 helical wind turbines and 2,500 photovoltaic solar panels along the upper rim of their stadium to generate electricity. Between these two sources, the stadium can generate up to 25% of its overall energy needs and they can sell it back to their local utility company during the off season to further reduce their overall spending. With additional support from a biodiesel generator, the stadium can produce all the energy it needs, which an impressive feat is given the number of lights used on a Monday Night game.
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Renewable energy is also just a part of the Eagles commitment to environmental stewardship, which also includes the use of recycled products and labor-intensive trash sorting.
More recently, the Washington Redskins are looking to follow the Eagles example. In conjunction with NRG Energy, the Redskins are installing 8,000 solar energy panels. This 2MW solar installation near FedEx field will generate enough power for the entire facility during non-game-days.
On game days, the panels will help offset the increased energy demand. The solar panels will be installed as a canopy over premium parking lots adjacent to the stadium, providing the added benefit of shade and shelter from the elements. It's also possible that by reflecting sunlight, the panels could even keep the area cooler than those areas where the sun's energy is absorbed and radiated off the blacktop.
Additionally, the stadium announced that NRG will install solar sculptures showcasing PV and thin-film solar technology and an electric vehicle charging station to promote and expand their eVgo network. The new, completed installations are expected to be unveiled in September for use during the 2011 NFL season.
The Eagles and Redskins management have shown us that environmental stewardship is not just lip-service and that the private sector can and will be a driving force in the renewable energies market. Following the Eagles lead, the Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans are also trying to lessen their environmental impact. After all, it's hard to frown at the $3 million the Eagles have saved since 2005 from energy, water and waste reduction efforts alone.