Greening Super Bowl XLVIII

What images come to mind when you read the words NFL, Super Bowl, and green? Grass football fields and green jerseys or renewable energy and kale?

The NFL’s environmental program got off the ground in 1994 when it launched its first recycling project during Super Bowl XXVIII at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Let’s look at greening Super Bowl XLVIII being hosted by New Jersey and New York.

Green Community Events

One aspect of greening the Super Bowl is giving back to the communities in and around the host city. Below are a few of the green events recently held in New Jersey and New York.

E-Cycling

Two e-cycling events were held in January, one each in New Jersey and New York. Anyone could drop off electronics, working or not, including cell phones, computers, printers, CRTs, and TVs.

Tree Planting in Rockaway Park, NY - Photo: VerizonTree Planting

The National Football League, Super Bowl sponsors, and community organizations joined together to plant more the 27,000 trees and shrubs in New York and New Jersey parks and areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Super Kids-Super Sharing

The Super Kids-Super Sharing project teaches children about recycling by encouraging them to pass along gently used belongings to others who can benefit from them. Schools in New Jersey and New York collected and distributed tens of thousands of items including books, sports equipment, and school supplies.

Greening the Game

Ground Transportation

Super Bowl XLVIII has been dubbed the first “mass transit” Super Bowl.

Game day restrictions make mass transit a necessity. For instance, this year for security purposes, no vehicles will be allowed to drop off passengers in front of the stadium and fans will not be allowed to walk or bike directly to the stadium entrance. In addition, 15,000 of the 28,000 parking spaces will be taken up by television and entertainment support trucks.

The NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee and public transportation organizations have put forth a lot of effort to make it easy for fans to use mass transit for traveling to and from the Super Bowl and getting around New York City and New Jersey.

  • Secaucus Junction station in New Jersey extended its platforms to accommodate the longer trains needed to transport 10,000-12,000 fans to and from the game.
  • Another 30,000-40,000 fans are expected to ride one of the special Fan Express buses.
  • Volunteer ambassadors are on hand at airports, train and bus stations to assist fans in getting to their destination via mass transit.
Renewable Energy Certificates

Community Energy Wind Farm in Atlantic City, NJ - Photo: Bill WolfeThe past seven Super Bowls have included some kind of renewable energy agreement. This year PSEG (Public Service Electric and Gas Company) will offset every kilowatt of electricity used during the Super Bowl and related events by purchasing renewable energy certificates that support New Jersey wind and solar power projects.

How Green is MetLife Stadium?

MetLife Stadium is perhaps the greenest of all NFL stadiums as it is home to not just one but two teams, the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

Prior to opening in 2010, MetLife Stadium signed a Memorandum of Understanding in partnership with the U.S. EPA to become an environmental steward by reducing its carbon footprint during construction and ongoing operations.

Per a 2013 EPA report, MetLife Stadium reduced its carbon footprint by 234,834 MTCO2e (Metric Ton Carbon Dioxide Equivalent) which is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 48,924 vehicles. The stadium also saved an estimated $19,915,885 (not chump change).

The Stadium

MetLIfe Stadium Super Bowl XLVIII - Photo: Eduardo Munoz / ReutersThe old Giants’ stadium was demolished to make way for MetLife Stadium. During demolition and construction, an effort was made to reuse and recycle materials from the old stadium and purchase new materials with recycled content. Some of the stadium’s green features include:

  • Energy efficient HVAC systems, equipment, and lighting.
  • Solar ring with LED lighting.
  • Low flow faucets, shower heads, toilets, and waterless urinals.
  • Porous pavement and native plant landscaping.
  • A light rail station at the stadium entrance.
  • Recycling programs for the stadium and fans.
Green Restaurant Certification

MetLife Stadium is the first NFL stadium to earn Green Restaurant Certification in conjunction with its food service partner Delaware North Companies Sportservice. With over 200 on-site restaurants and service for up to 100,000 people in a day, it is the largest food service operation ever to receive this certification.

Some of the stadium’s green food service accomplishments include: using ENERGY STAR equipment, donating excess food, recycling and composting food and packaging waste, eliminating all Styrofoam, and using water-efficient fixtures.

A Missed Opportunity

80,000 plus fans are expected to brave the cold to attend Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ while over 100 million people watch the game on TV in living rooms and bars across the country.

The NFL has implemented some excellent green Super Bowl programs but has missed the boat on getting the word out.

The 288-page Super Bowl XLVIII Official Game Program devotes only half of page 68 to green Super Bowl efforts and barely mentions the green features of MetLife Stadium on page 110. At least last year we had the Geaux Green Game for fans.

Maybe one of the Super Bowl commercials will be for a clean tech company. I wish.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

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