The greening of American sports has been underway for several years, but many saw the National Football League as a laggard behind national baseball and hockey leagues. Now with a string of new stadiums about to open, the league is about to get much more efficient.
A symbol of the forthcoming change is Levi's Stadium, set to open later this year as the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. The $1.2 billion stadium will be the first NFL stadium to feature a "living roof" -- a canopy of grass and flowering plants that reduces the building's energy use. The stadium will also include drought-tolerant Bandera Bermuda grass -- which uses half the water of typical Bay Area sports turf -- electric vehicle charging stations and 1,000 solar panels.
New Atlanta Stadium, which will be the home of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in 2017, will feature a system that collects rainwater to use for irrigation and cooling.
Many critics believe these changes are long overdue. Ten of the 32 NFL teams have adopted formal green energy programs, but most of these changes are the result of individual team owners acting. Danyel Reiche, from the American University of Beirut, has called on the NFL to set leaguewide standards, including making it mandatory for stadiums to adopt carbon-offsetting measures to compensate for team travel to away games.
The NFL said it doesn't have the authority to mandate such changes because the league is an association of team owners (Jim Carlton, Wall Street Journal, May 18).
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