Measuring Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Massachusetts Professional Sports Stadiums
For four years running, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has ranked Massachusetts as the number one state in energy efficiency on their State Scorecard with four other New England states regularly finishing in the top ten. For the ACEEE, the State Scorecard serves as a benchmark for efforts on energy efficiency policies and programs each year, and encourages leaders to invest in clean energy development to promote economic growth. Massachusetts has remained committed to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs by implementing several initiatives, including the Green Communities Act of 2008, the Climate Action Plan, the Green Affordable Housing Program, etc., while urging the state’s future leaders to further embrace the state’s clean energy policies to build on the sector’s current momentum.
In addition to its commitment to energy efficiency and clean energy development, it’s also no secret that Massachusetts boasts some of the country’s most well-known, successful and storied professional sports teams with legions of loyal fans. Since 2001, collectively the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins have won nine championships, with each major team claiming at least one title for the region. When going to a game it is easy to appreciate the electric crowds and thousands of people who come to cheer on their teams. What is sometimes overlooked is how the facility is managed to create an optimal environment providing power and comfort to professional athletes and tens of thousands of fans and employees. Energy efficiency and sustainability play a major role in handling that. So, how do our top sports facilities stack up in terms of renewable power and energy efficiency? Do the stadiums that our #1 teams call home match our #1 ACEEE ranking?
Gillette Stadium, Home of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution
In 2002, The Kraft Group privately funded the development of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and made energy efficient construction a priority for the facility that would be home to the New England Patriots and New England Revolution, hosting nearly 70,000 fans at each game.According to the Kraft Group, over 90% of the residual construction waste products were reused to make the facility, making the project efficient from the get-go. Also of note, Gillette Stadium is covered by 700,000 square feet of white roofs to reduce the need for air conditioning, which in turn creates a more energy efficient facility. The Kraft Group also incorporated many other energy efficient and renewable energy measures for the facility, which helped them win the EPA’s New England Environmental Merit Award in 2002, such as:
- The stadium has a wastewater treatment and reuse system, which recycles over 10 million gallons of potable water per year, and is the largest project of its kind in New England.
- All electricity used during games is provided by renewable “green” power sources – such as wind or hydroelectric.
- When constructing Gillette Stadium, 100% of the old Foxboro stadium structure was recycled in to the foundation of the Gillette Stadium Parking Lots.
- Energy management strategies at the stadium have reduced electricity and natural gas use – and the stadium’s carbon footprint by over 25% in the last four years.
- 30% of the energy used at Patriot Place comes from a 525-kilowatt solar array on the shopping center’s roof.
Fenway Park, Home of the Boston Red Sox
In 2008, The Red Sox, in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), engaged sponsors, local groups and the fans of Red Sox Nation to help execute a five-year plan to bring “green” practices to Fenway Park. In 2008, Fenway Park installed solar panels, which replaced 37% of the gas traditionally used for energy, saving both energy and expense, and avoided 18 tons of CO2 emissions. This move to solar energy made Fenway Park the first professional sports venue in the Boston area to install solar panels for its energy needs. Because of these efforts, Fenway Park was also awarded the EPA’s New England Environmental Merit Award in 2008 for sustainability initiatives. In 2010, the park also completed another energy audit in order to explore new ways to save energy. According to its site, Fenway Park has added multiple measures to reduce its footprint and increase energy efficiency by:
- The buildings and grounds crew collects and recycles 400 lbs. of plastic post-game.
- The buildings and grounds crew uses battery powered walk-behind mowers, electric utility carts, and biodiesel fuel used in all non-battery powered mowers.
- Installing 1059 energy efficient LED lights in the new Coca-Cola sign atop the Coca-Cola Corner. These bulbs use 80% less power and last years longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
TD Garden, Home of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics
The TD Garden has also taken considerable steps over the past decade to increase its sustainability initiatives and reduce its carbon footprint by increasing energy efficiency. The Garden was recognized by the EPA in 2008 for taking steps in the following ways to reduce energy consumption and increase sustainability initiatives:
- In 2008 the Garden, changed the stadium’s outdoor lighting to LED technology, reducing the energy used by more than 50%, and reduced their electricity usage by 15% to 20% by working through an energy service company.
- The Garden provides newspaper and bottle recycling opportunities for the more than twenty thousand commuters who walk through North Station each week day and the 3.5 million people who attend concerts, shows and sporting events at the Garden.
- The Garden reduced their solid waste, increased what they recycle and their recycling rate, reduced their energy use, and also participated in MA DEP and EPA’s WasteWise programs.
It is clear that as Massachusetts continues to top other states in energy efficiency – our top sports teams and their stadiums are helping us achieve that goal – something that both their fans and the rest of us can be proud of regardless of how our favorite teams are performing during the season.