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Thursday, January 29, 2015

SUSTAINGATE, Is Your Team Green?

Sports, particularly the NFL, can be great role models if they embrace sustainability.  This weekend 100mm people will be focused on the big game.  What a great chance to showcase more than football skills.  What if, as an example, in AZ this Sunday the Super Bowl was a zero-waste event?  What if that was promoted heavily to the fans?  Of course, what if the fans played a major role in participating in a zero-waste Super Bowl?  

We wish both teams well, hope the fans enjoy a great game and the NFL steps back after and thinks about how this amazing platform could positively influence our kids and inspire them beyond the gridiron.  

With all the hoopla whirling around about under inflated footballs, and the crazy jokes that have come along with what seems to have captured the interest of the American public you, know ReNewable Now couldn't sit on the sidelines and not try to get into the fry of things. But you know what, who needs Deflategate when you have SUSTAINGATE?

Are the two teams heading into the Superbowl sustainable? Or are they just Greenwashing? Let's take a look at the team's stadiums that have been pulled into SUSTAINGATE- first we'll start with the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium and see where it stands.

The Patriots' Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. Since then, stadium operators calculate annual savings of well over $1m through a 30% reduction in energy consumption from lighting and heating automation, recycling, solar arrays and LED lighting. The stadium also has a closed loop water system that reclaims upwards of 16m gallons of water a year in its own wastewater treatment plant.

Jim Nolan, Patriots and Gillette Stadium senior vice-president of administration, operations and finance, said: "If you include the wastewater re-use system that was included in the original design and construction of the stadium, our annual savings through sustainability initiatives exceed $2m annually."

In 2010, the Patriots installed at 500kW solar array and last year added a further 1.4MW that provides around 40% of the energy needs for Patriot Place, a mall next to the stadium. "We have found our sustainability measures to be very good for business," said Nolan. "There is investment to get initiatives off the ground once they're operational, they're cash positive. Specifically, I look at the solar arrays as being smart business deals and initiatives to reduce waste and utility consumption that are also cash positive."

Lets take a look at the Seahawks and some facts that we found on their home field CenturyLink Field.

  • 97% of the Kingdome concrete was recycled, with 35% used in the construction of CenturyLink Field.

  • 94% of waste generated at CenturyLink Field and CenturyLink Field Event Center is diverted from landfills. That's up from 47% just four years ago.

  • In 2012 CenturyLink Field produced 5 million gallons of biodiesel through recycling of used cooking oil (that's a lot of garlic fries). And we're on track to do more this year.

  • 614 recycle and compost bins are located throughout CenturyLink Field. 100% of food containers are compostable and all plastic bottles are recyclable.

  • 100% of urinals have been retrofitted with ultra-low-flow water fixtures, saving more than 1.3 million gallons of water every year.

  • We used 15% less water in 2012, enough to provide water for more than 21,533 people for a year. That's nearly the entire population of Bainbridge Island.

  • 94% of cleaning and soap products we use are Green Seal certified. Our system eliminates the use of chemicals in general purpose cleaning and reduces overall chemical-based cleaning around the stadium.

  • Solar panels spanning the area of two football fields now sit atop CenturyLink Field Event Center, generating more than 800,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. We now meet 30% of our facility's energy needs with solar power.

  • Arch lighting has been converted to programmable LEDs, resulting in a huge energy savings (not to mention some eye-catching light shows).

  • 3.8 million pounds of CO2 was diverted from the atmosphere last year, the equivalent of permanently removing 260 cars from Seattle roadways.

  • In 2012, despite an increase in the number of visitors, we reduced our energy consumption by 12%.

  • Right now, 32% of our fans use public transportation to CenturyLink Field. We think we can do better. We continue to work with regional transit organizations to get the word out about game-day alternatives to driving.

  • CenturyLink Field installed six electric vehicle charging stations on site—four in the north parking lot and two in the parking garage.

  • In 2010 our concessions partner implemented a sustainability program with suppliers to focus on using organic fruits and vegetables, sustainably harvested seafood, meats from humanely raised livestock, and local products whenever possible.

  • On a typical game day we donate food to Food Lifeline and Operation Sack Lunch. Nearly 4,600 individual meals were donated in 2011 alone—that's 11,000+ pounds of food. (Or, as it's known around the Seahawks locker room, breakfast.)

When you look at both teams you have to say we found no fouls when it comes to their sustainability efforts, a matter of fact, both teams clearly have come clean on our SUSTAINGATE investigation.

We wish them both good luck for the big game this Sunday. And as far as the footballs are concerned, why not use a recycled NERF football and forget about all that hot air?

Gillette Stadium facts found at The Guardian

CenturyLink Field facts found at Defend Your Turf
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