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Super Bowl XLV Will Be Greenest NFL Championship on Record

Kathryn Siranosian | Monday January 31st, 2011 | 4 Comments

Super Bowl XLV will be green –and that’s not just because the Packers will be playing.

In fact, thanks to an expanded environmental initiative, this Sunday’s 2011 Super Bowl is being billed as the greenest NFL championship on record.

But, how can an event like the Super Bowl possibly be environmentally-friendly?

For starters, think renewable energy certificates (RECs). A new collaboration between Just Energy, the National Football League (NFL) and the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee will ensure that all direct and indirect carbon emissions associated with power generation at major Super Bowl XLV venues will be offset with RECs. So, for every megawatt of electricity used in the production of Super Bowl XLV, one megawatt of renewable energy will be generated by the Sweetwater Wind Farm located in Sweetwater, Texas, 228 miles west of Dallas.

That’s a significant commitment because the Super Bowl gobbles up an enormous amount of energy.

Cowboys Stadium consumes electricity, as do other event-related activities and facilities, such as the NFL Super Bowl headquarters, the Super Bowl media center, the AFC and NFC team hotels, and the NFL Experience Football Theme Park (which is  the largest public event at the Super Bowl).

As remarkable as it sounds, Just Energy estimates the event requires approximately the same amount of energy needed to power 1,500 homes for one year.

“This year, the Super Bowl, and all human activities related to the Super Bowl, including hotel stays, public and private transit, broadcast transmissions, etc., are estimated to have a 15,000 megawatt carbon footprint. Under the greening program, Just Energy will purchase a 15M MW equivalent in renewable energy certificates to offset the carbon emissions produced by the Super Bowl XLV. So, in the end, the Super Bowl will have no environmental impact due to the carbon offset program,” Chris Brockbank, Chief Marketing Officer, Just Energy, said in an email interview.

For Just Energy, this offset program offers a “powerful opportunity” to join the NFL and lead by example before a global audience.

“An estimated 100 million – 130 million people around the world watch the Super Bowl. The example we are setting is that large public sporting events like the Super Bowl will not have an impact on the environment, and that this is a priority of the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committee,” Brockbank explained. “Moreover, it was the NFL and the Super Bowl Host Committees decision to continue the greening program as well as to work with Just Energy to deliver the carbon offsets.”

In addition to this Green Energy initiative, the NFL has launched several other projects designed to address environmental impacts associated with the production of Super Bowl XLV. For instance:

  • In partnership with the US Forest Service, Texas Trees Foundation and the Texas Forest Service, thousands of trees are being planted in a dozen communities throughout North Texas as part of the overall “greening” of Super Bowl XLV. “Super Grow XLV” tree planting events are taking place at local schools, parks and playgrounds.
  • As part of an ongoing program with federal and state agencies and nonprofit community organizations, the environmental impact of the thousands of trees planted over the past seven years in connection with Super Bowl (and Pro Bowl) will be monitored and reported on an annual basis. Annual calculations of environmental benefits will be certified by researchers from the US Forest Service/USDA.
  • Biofuels for transportation and field generators will be used wherever possible and practical. This includes a significant number of the buses in the Super Bowl transportation fleet.
  • Solid waste will be diverted from local landfills through recycling projects at major event venues including Cowboys Stadium, the Super Bowl stadium compound, the Super Bowl XLV Media Center and the NFL Super Bowl headquarters offices.
  • Extra prepared food from Super Bowl events will be collected and donated to community agencies. Several local agencies will participate under the leadership of the North Texas Food Bank and the Tarrant Area Food Bank. Tens of thousands of pounds of prepared food are expected to be recovered from sanctioned and non-sanctioned events. Food is distributed to shelters, community kitchens and churches throughout North Texas immediately after each participating event.
  • All leftover, usable materials from Super Bowl events will be inventoried and donated to local non-profit agencies in North Texas. The Salvation Army is handling the sorting and distribution of recovered material. Donations include decorative materials, building materials, office supplies and equipment. For the second year in a row miles of decor material into re-manufactured products. A portion of the profit from sales of those products goes to support community youth programs.
  • The “Super Kids –Super Sharing” project provides an opportunity for local school children to donate their gently used books, sports equipment, board games and school supplies to children in need in North Texas. Partners include the Dallas Cowboys, the Salvation Army, the Catholic Dioceses of Dallas and Fort Worth, and school districts throughout North Texas. More than 100 North Texas schools have registered in advance to participate, and all donated items will be sorted, inventoried and distributed to local schools in need and to local youth programs

According to Jack Groh, the NFL’s Environmental Program Director, these projects are designed to address the immediate environmental impact and, wherever possible, leave a tangible benefit to the local host community. Plus, all projects are developed in partnership with the local North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee and with a number of national, regional and local organizations.

Just Energy’s Brockbank sees collaborative efforts like these as part of a growing corporate sustainability trend.

“There is definitely a trend in that more and more companies are incorporating or expanding their environmental programs making them part of their Corporate Social Responsibility platforms. Not only that, but more companies see green as part of a competitive edge,” Brockbank concluded. “A recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund said that a growing number of companies are embracing environmentally safe practices and saving hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.”

Photo courtesy of Just Energy.


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  • Jen Green

    It’s great that they’re taking stock of the issue and trying to minimize the damage. I absolutely love the idea of donating leftovers to charities. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • http://www.CorporateWriter4Hire.com Kathryn Siranosian

      Thanks, Jen! I agree, and I like the way you phrased it: “trying to minimize the damage.” I only wish more people were aware of the NFL’s commitment to these issues. Do you think we’ll hear about RECs during the broadcast on Sunday?

  • Mike

    I take issue with the statement, “For starters, think renewable energy certificates”

    Offsets should be the last thing, not the first. REC’s and tree-planting don’t make it green if they just go on being as wasteful as ever. They say “solid waste will be diverted”, but don’t state any targets or mention if they will make any efforts above and beyond normal to this effort.

    How do they know this will be the greenest ever? What are their measures? Have these measures really been tracked in the past?

    It sounds like a bunch of greenwashing to me.

    • Jack Groh

      Mike,

      Good point about “greenest.” It is a vague term and attempts to compare a great number of factors – many of which don’t lend themselves to direct comparison. For example, we planted more total trees in Arizona but more urban trees in Texas. We used direct renewable energy purchased from nearby solar and wind facilities through an arrangement with the local utility in Arizona but had to go with RECs in Texas because the capability of direct “green” energy purchase was not there.

      Although Kathryn used the term “to start with..” I don’t think she was making a chronological or priority statement. Seventeen years ago the NFL actually started with a plan to adress solid waste – think back to environmental awareness 17 years ago and it makes sense that we would start there.

      As time went by we tried to identify additional impacts and began to reduce waste by recycling, recovering prepared food (as much as 45 tons at one Super Bowl) and repurposing miles of decor and building materials. We also spearheaded drives to reclaim and redistribute tens of thousands of books and pieces of sports equipment.

      The most recent initiatives have been tryingto address the climate impact of our events through alternative fuels, “no idling” policies for buses and other vehicles, renewable energy and travel emission offsets.

      But we are far from perfect. We have developed environemtal guidelines for all of our event managers and contractors and are working to make these guidelines standard practice. There are also supply chain issues to address – and that will take time.

      So we will continue to keep working in this direction even though we know it is a never-ending process to try to improve each year.

      As a friend of mine once said, “Never let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”

      We know there is no way that Super Bowl, by its very nature, will become a smaller scale, organic event. But we can still continue to incorporate proven environmental principles and do the best we can within the needs of our events.

      Jack Groh
      Director
      NFL Environmental Program