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New 49ers Stadium Set to Use 85 Percent Recycled Water

By Mike Hower

Recycled water will account for around 85 percent of all water used in Levi’s Stadium – the new home of the San Francisco 49ers -- and will be used for playing field irrigation, a 27,000-square-foot green roof, flushing toilets, and cooling tower make-up water. Inside, the stadium is dual plumbed with recycled water used for flushing toilets.

Following final testing by the City of Santa Clara Water and Sewer Utilities, Levi’s Stadium was recently connected to the city’s recycled water system, making it the first stadium in California to utilize the drought-proof water source. The milestone brings the facility one step closer to a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.

Though other stadiums in the U.S. are plumbed for recycled water use, none are using it to the extent and in the myriad of ways as Levi’s Stadium.

"Utilizing recycled water in so many different spaces and in such a variety of ways was a challenging proposition," said Chris de Groot, the city’s Director of Water and Sewer Utilities. "We had to develop a new way to test both potable and recycled systems for a building of this size, and get approval from the California Department of Public Health. Through innovation and cooperative partnerships, we were able to achieve this new standard."
The recycled water system will be a key element in helping to make Levi's Stadium one of the most sustainable stadiums in the country and the first NFL stadium to open with a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. Other sustainable features include energy efficient systems, solar power and the use of recycled construction materials.

"With California experiencing historic drought conditions, the timing couldn't be better to showcase the benefits of using recycled water whenever and wherever possible," said  Jim Mercurio, San Francisco 49ers vice president of stadium operations. "Fans visiting the stadium will become more aware of the importance and viability of incorporating recycled water to encourage a sustainable Bay Area water supply."

The city of Santa Clara is recognized for having one of the most progressive recycled water programs in Northern California, with recycled water accounting for 15 percent of its water supply. The program was honored with the American City & County Award of Merit and is the recipient of the 2014 Recycled Water Agency of the Year award from California WaterReuse Association.

Levi's Stadium is set to open its doors in August 2014.

It's not the only sports facility in the Bay Area working to become more sustainable: Last year, the San Francisco Giants announced plans to build a 3,000 square foot edible garden at AT&T Park. The first of its kind, the “Giants Garden” will be planted behind the center-field wall in a space between the left- and right- field bleachers, which is now used to grow replacement sod. The garden will be a bona fide farm, growing strawberries, herbs, avocados, tomatoes, lemons, edible flowers, huckleberries and more.

Based in San Francisco, Mike Hower is a writer, thinker and strategic communicator that revels in driving the conversation at the intersection of sustainability, social entrepreneurship, tech, politics and law. He has cultivated diverse experience working for the United States Congress in Washington, D.C., helping Silicon Valley startups with strategic communications and teaching in South America. Connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter (@mikehower)

Mike Hower headshot

Currently based in Washington, D.C, <strong>Mike Hower</strong> is a new media journalist and strategic communication professional focused on helping to drive the conversation at the intersection of sustainable business and public policy. To learn more about Mike, visit his blog,<a href="http://climatalk.com/&quot; > ClimaTalk</a>.

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