Can a sporting event as massive as the Super Bowl be considered even remotely green?
Yes -- although we'll disregard the fact that Indianapolis's Lucas Oil Stadium is hosting this year's game.
The Super Bowl expends an enormous amount of energy. But that doesn't mean it should go to waste. Let's use this massive television event as a platform to address our own energy needs, consumption rates and alternatives, all while highlighting the measures the NFL has taken to reduce its impact during the year's most-watched game.
In recent years, the NFL has purchased renewable energy credits in Super Bowl host cities, including Miami, Arizona and Dallas, to offset the game's massive energy consumption. It has once again done the same in Indianapolis. But you might have not known that. In this spectacle of sport -- where the commercials are often discussed as much, if not more than, some of the game's key plays -- lies a golden opportunity for the NFL to tout its own commitment to green initiatives.
If we're going to succeed in branding renewable energy as effectively as Coca-Cola, we need to stop shying away from opportunities to brag about it! For instance, did you know that the NFL's top two teams also happen to be some of the league leaders in renewable energy and energy efficiency? The Patriots and Giants are leading the way to victory on the gridiron and off the grid. In late 2011, both teams joined the ranks of the Eagles, Redskins, and Cardinals, among others, in pursuing clean ways to power their stadiums.
The Giants share their home field, MetLife Stadium (host of the future 2014 Super Bowl), with the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The stadium's location was built with access to public transportation in mind and the stadium itself was constructed with an eye toward preserving the surrounding meadowlands. Even the seats are made from recycled materials!
Mark Lamping, President and CEO of MetLife Stadium, has said "the 'green vision' for MetLife Stadium dates back to the very beginning phase of our initial development."
If you're rooting for the Patriots, you'd say "that's cute" and pat the Giants on the head like a gentle puppy. Indeed, that basically what the Patriots have done as they one upped the Giants as they are likely to do on Sunday....
Just days after the Giants' announcement, the Patriots launched their own renewable energy campaign, promising to install one megawatt of solar power between Gillette Stadium and the surrounding entertainment center, Patriot Place. The installation, which is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 800 metric tons, will make the Patriots the league leader in renewable energy offsets.
If the NFL and its teams continue to lead by example, there is no reason why we can't get American consumers to purchase clean energy and be energy efficient, the same way they line up to buy iPhones or swing through the drive-through for McDonald's hamburgers. But we need big companies -- and yes, NFL teams are gigantic companies -- to do a better job of using their platforms to promote their efforts. They've already got millions of eyeballs. Why not make good use of them?
Oh, one more thing. Go Pats!
Brian Keane is the President of SmartPower, a non-profit marketing organization funded by private foundations to help build the clean energy marketplace by helping the American public become smarter about their energy use.
Follow Brian F. Keane on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SmartPower_org