Sustainability Column: A More Sustainable Super Bowl

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge football lover and a Patriots fan just like the next sane person. But I also think it’s a good idea to take a step back and think about everything that goes into the Super Bowl, including what happens on our home turf. I’ll give you a quick and easy overview about sustainability at the Super Bowl this year, and then I’ll give you a few tips for making your next Super Bowl party a little greener.

As with any major event, there are so many aspects of the Super Bowl that factor into sustainability: transportation, food, lighting, water and heat. These are all things we typically don’t even think about, but can play a huge role in reducing an event’s impact on the environment. Let’s consider some of these aspects in terms of this year’s Super Bowl. Both the Patriots and Rams flew to Atlanta from hundreds of miles away and both teams had 53 players, along with coaches and other staff. Thousands of fans also flew in from all over the country to see the game.

This year, however, fans were asked not to drive to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in order to cut down on the carbon footprint associated with transportation and energy use. Instead, fans were welcomed to use the bike racks available at the stadium or the extensive public transportation found around the stadium. The city of Atlanta also held a “green week” full of different events in the week leading up to the Super Bowl to get fans thinking about the importance of sustainability, investing in making their city a better place.

The stadium itself was a huge part of this Super Bowls’ “greenness.” The Mercedes-Benz Stadium has achieved a LEED Platinum status, making it the first professional sports stadium in the U.S. to do so. LEED, for those who do not know, is a rating system created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for sustainable buildings. LEED certification ensures that a building has gone to great lengths to reduce its environmental impacts and implement better, more efficient ways to operate. Platinum is the highest rating given by the USGBC. Six other NFL stadiums have a LEED status as well, while others show no signs of “greening”.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium, according to its website, has the capacity to store over two million gallons of water onsite, which helps to reduce flooding in neighboring areas. It uses 47 percent less water

than the EPA baseline and received all of the LEED water category credits because of its advanced stormwater management system. Additionally, the stadium has 82,500 square feet of LED lighting, which lasts 10 times longer than regular lights and reduces the energy consumption of the stadium by up to 60 percent according to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium Website. The stadium also has 4,000 onsite solar panels to produce clean energy, according to Axios.

The NFL has begun to do its part for sustainability. Now, here’s what you can do at home while watching the game in the future.

One of the best parts about the Super Bowl is the food, right? Unfortunately, along with that comes large amounts of waste. On average, Americans throw away 25 percent of the food they buy and such waste has huge implications for the environment. Just think about the resources that went into growing and producing that food and then the energy and carbon dioxide that went into transporting it. Making sure to not overbuy is really important, but if you end up with leftovers, freeze them. Another really great way to green your party is to make it vegetarian. This year, my roommate made buffalo chicken dip with cauliflower instead of chicken and it tasted exactly the same. Making vegetarian food not only cuts down on water, energy and transportation, but also is better for you health-wise. Finally, recycle. Whether you’re drinking seltzer or something else with bubbles that’s a little more fun (I know I did), make sure to recycle! Aluminum cans can be recycled over and over without losing any of their properties and by reusing them, we are cutting down on the need to make new cans.

However you celebrate the Super Bowl, whoever you root for, factor the environment into your party. And remember, green goes well with every team’s colors.

Contact Maggie Dunn at [email protected].