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Eagles Fly High with Greenest Stadium in the World

Last week, some of the Exact Solar family took a tour of Lincoln Financial Field, which is home to both the Philadelphia Eagles as well as innovative green technology. Our enthusiastic guide Norm Vossschulte, Director of Guest Experience, did a wonderful job of walking us through all of the sustainability efforts that have developed at the stadium. Here is your virtual tour.

Meet Norm. He is from Germany and spends his days giving tours of the stadium to die-hard Eagle’s fans and sustainability enthusiasts alike. Behind him you can see that the stadium is being prepared for a Kenny Chesney concert that will take place tonight. Little do the country music fans know, the lights shining down on Chesney will be powered by 100% renewable energy!

It is easy to imagine that a massive stadium with hundreds of bright lights and one million+ visitors each year would use a lot of energy and produce mountains of trash. But since starting its sustainability mission 13 years ago by sticking small, blue recycling bins under each desk, Lincoln Financial Field has transformed into a 99% landfill-free, “off-grid” facility.

The stadium entered a 20-year partnership with NRG, which installed 11,108 solar panels and 14 wind turbines throughout the stadium. The solar PV system is the largest in the NFL and produces 40% of the stadium’s yearly energy usage.
On the other hand, each wind turbine produces only enough energy to power a hair blow dryer.
According to Norm, the turbines are just a cool-looking marketing tool for NRG. Frankly, it just isn’t that windy in Philadelphia.

The stadium simply doesn’t have enough space to fill up with solar panels to provide ALL of the energy it needs. Instead, a green power purchasing agreement ensures that the remainder of the energy used at the stadium comes from off-site renewable sources.

Visitors at the stadium eat a lot of greasy, fried food and drink a lot of and beer and soda. But thanks to composting and trash sorting efforts, the stadium has been landfill-free since 2013. They transitioned to corn-based food and beverage packaging that can be composted along with all food scraps. Cooking oil is refined into biofuel, which is then used to power nearly all of the vehicles at the stadium. Finally, the “Green Team” sorts through every single bag of trash in order to separate out all recycling. There simply is not a more efficient way to get the job done. The stadium collects and sells all of the aluminum and that money is used to reward the Green Team with gift cards and hotel suites.

Going green has cut the stadium’s average monthly electric bill from $350,000 to $100,000. A switch from electric to gas heat is saving $150,000 each month during the winter. Lighting is almost entirely LED, with the exception of the stadium lighting. There are plans to switch those to LED in the near future, which will cost several million dollars. However, the switch will pay for itself in saved electricity costs in just a few years. There are also motion sensors throughout the stadium that ensure that energy is not wasted on lighting empty rooms. A “sweep,” or shutdown of all lights is performed every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night to ensure that no lights are accidentally left on for extended periods of time. Just wave a hand in the air if you suddenly find yourself in the dark! According to Norm, the sensors and sweeps alone have saved the stadium $50,000/year in energy costs.

One of the coolest things that we saw at the stadium was a machine called Orbio. The machine combines water, salt and electrolytes to produce a cleaning solution that is chemical-free. It produces hundreds of gallons of water each day that are used to clean the entire stadium. This saves the stadium hundreds of thousands of dollars on chemicals and eliminates the inconvenience of obtaining storage permits.

The Eagles also make an effort to offset their carbon footprint away from home. To make up for carbon emissions that result from traveling to other stadiums, the team has participated in yearly tree planting events at “Eagles Forest” in Neshaminy, Pa. since 2007. They also purchase seedlings for a wildlife refuge in Louisiana.

All of these efforts have helped the stadium achieve silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the US Green Building Council. They are continuing to research sustainability efforts in order to achieve gold LEED certification. The stadium also received the 2014 Beyond Sport for the Environment Award in recognition of their go green initiatives. We hope that other stadiums will look at what the Eagles are doing to cut emissions and will follow in their nonexistent carbon footsteps.

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