I had floor seats to the Syracuse-Duke game at the Carrier Dome Friday (hands down best basketball game EVER), and like virtually every other person on the planet, I did watch some of the Super Bowl, even though as anyone who knows me, knows I'm no "Stat Boy."
But I can tell you a lot about the venues themselves, especially the 30+ venues around the country that have become LEED certified. They include three NFL stadiums (the Eagles' Lincoln Financial, the Ravens' M&T Bank Field, and Da Bears' Soldier Field), six MLB ballparks, basketball and hockey arenas, and at least one natatorium.
I didn't count the last few Olympic Villages, though many of them have been certified, or a few in-the-pipeline projects ranging from the 49ers' Levi's Stadium, which will be the first NFL LEED for New Construction project to the under construction Olympic venues in Rio. But the number is growing and that makes me proud.
Even places that haven't certified (and really should) are doing some of the right things. MetLife stadium, site of the Super Bowl, has a partnership with the EPA, and the Seahawks' CenturyLink stadium has the largest solar array in Washington state.
Why should sports venues be green? Their very size and scale make it a no-brainer. By the very nature of their mission, they are going to use a LOT of energy, especially if some of it is needed to keep people warm. Might as well double down on efficiency where you can and explore alternative energy options in the process. The more than 11,000 solar panels at Lincoln Financial Field should be helping offset a lot of their costs.
And water efficiency? The beer-to-bathroom-trip ratio alone means low flow fixtures could likely pay for themselves in one or two games. The potential for waste reduction is also huge. A move to compostables to reduce the trips to the landfill is serious low-hanging fruit.
But what excites me the most is the opportunity for education. I know when we were in Chicago for Greenbuild in 2010, and again last year in Philadelphia in 2013, there's nothing quite like the power of a sporting event to help spread the word. Massive structures such as stadiums and arenas can do their part to mitigate carbon emissions and provide places of play that walk the talk for the good health and well-being that define our athletic competitions.
We've also got a growing partnership with the Green Sports Alliance and through them we're partnering with teams all over the country to use their powers of celebrity to bring attention to our efforts to green schools through the Center for Green Schools at USGBC's Green Apple Day of Service.
Some really smart person told me once that "If you don't keep score, it's only practice." I'm personally thrilled that in the places where the score is everything, these teams want to make sure their LEED score is on the board, too, letting fans know that no matter what the game is, where we play it matters!
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