The Top 5 Sustainable NFL Stadiums

It’s that special time on the calendar, again. The Cheeseheads are out in full force. Mondays have prime-time television relevance, and grown men are speaking more with their hands about fantasy than they were when Game of Thrones was on this year. Yes, across America, it is an emphatic: yes, we are ready for some football.

Fans at all of this week’s opening games already know the fields are green. But are the stadiums?

As the NFL kicks off another season, BuiltWorlds takes a look at the top five sustainable stadiums already in the league.

  • Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia Eagles

The maverick. Before going green was the norm, the Eagles were a pioneer in the sustainable stadium construction. Prior to the construction of Lincoln Financial Field, team owner Jeffery Lurie made it a top priority to reduce the stadium’s carbon footprint. Designed by NBBJ and powered by NRG Energy, The Linc boasts 11 thousand solar panels and over 80 micro wind turbines. At 3 MW of peak power, the Eagles home can proudly say that it generates more solar power than any other NFL stadium. Most impressive of all, Combined annual energy production is more than 4 times the power consumed during a season of home game days.

  • Soldier Field –  Chicago Bears

Something old. Sure, the Chicago Bears play in the oldest NFL building stadium at 94 years young, but it is the first to receive LEED certification. Following the tag-team 2003 renovation of architect firm Wood & Zapata and structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti,  the U.S. Green Building Council bestowed this honor on the Bears facility and the Chicago team has been working hard at honoring this prestigious distinction ever since. They have set-up various practices within their operations to conserve energy and water, and reduce waste and harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Green cleansers are used throughout the facility, soil and sod is reused, EV charging stations are prevalent, and there is an extensive recycling plan. That procedure even involves recycling the lost mobile phones and eyeglasses.

  • Levi’s Stadium – San Francisco 49ers

Something new. Debuting for usage last season, the HNTB designed Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers and is currently the newest NFL stadium. The first NFL building to receive LEED Gold certification for new construction, they have set the bar for everyone to come. In drought-ridden California, they are using Bandera Bermuda grass, which uses 50% less water than traditional turf.  Speaking of water, 85% of it at Levi’s comes from recycled sources. The installation of LEDs has reduced overall consumption from lighting by 15-20%. Atop the facility now rests a 27,000 square foot “green roof” which reduces the need for heating and cooling. Even though the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) requires a score of 39 in the areas of sustainable construction site development to achieve a LEED Gold certification in terms of energy efficiency, environmental quality, water savings, materials selection, and others, Levi’s Stadium, as of 2014, is far ahead at a score of 41. Can they get to their namesake number?

  • Ford Field: Detroit Lions

Something borrowed. From local design firm Rosetti, domed stadiums do the energy grid a favor and rely on natural light from the massive ceiling above to reduce energy consumption by roughly 15%. There are many of those in the league, just think of every stadium that end in dome. The reason why Ford Field makes this list is because of its usage of recycling what became the currently constructed facility. They used approximately 25,000 recycled tires to soften the indoor turf, over 20 million pounds of steel were recycled to construct the stadium, and the former Hudson Department store in downtown Detroit is used as part of the Lions Den’s main concourse. Multiple initiatives have been instituted recently to help fans in the stadium kick their plastic water bottle habit and “turn it green”. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

  • Metflife Stadium: New York Giants & New York Jets

Something blue…and green. The main colors of both the Giants and the Jets not only shine through the stands on Sundays at Metlife Stadium, but it’s an everyday occurrence there, too. As ground broke on 360 Architecture (now HOKdesigned project, the MetLife Stadium Company agreed to a pact with the U.S. EPA to be a champion of implementing the carbon footprint reduction initiatives.  A member of the Green Sports Alliance, Metlife Stadium has continuously exceeding the goals set forth through their EPA agreement. In a recent collaboration with NRG Solar, they have installed their “solar ring” above the stadiums catwalk. This includes 47 panels that generate a total of 350,000 kW hours of electricity annually. That number is equivalent to removing 53 automobiles from the road every year. Anywhere you are and especially in New York traffic, that’s a big deal.

  • Honorable Mentions : U.S. Bank Stadium – Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings new home is still a year away.

Two that are yet to officially enter the competition. Slated to open for the 2016-2017 NFL season, Mortenson Construction is currently helming the job. As profiled here in June, the $1-billion project, designed by Dallas-based HKS, includes the largest transparent ethylene-tetraflouroethylene (ETFE) roof in the nation and is anticipating LEED certification. Currently, just over 60% complete, this beautiful building is one to watch in sustainable circles.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Atlanta Falcons

Finally, as BW reported back in January, the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium will stress both water and energy conservation and the use of sustainable materials. Designed by HOK, the stated goal is to reach LEED platinum status, a level never attained by any sports facility. Features will include collecting rainwater for cooling and irrigation, edible gardens outside of the venue, and solar panels.

Atlanta’s new football palace is aiming for LEED Platinum.

Whether you have a favorite team or don’t even know how many points you receive from a two-point conversion (the answer is two), everyone can agree that the movement toward more sustainable trends in stadium architecture and construction is something for which we can all cheer.