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Is This Year’s Super Bowl the Greenest Yet?

Just Energy, a green energy retailer supplying renewable energy certificates to Super Bowl venues, is claiming that “the 2011 Super Bowl will be the greenest NFL championship on record.” Is this true, or is it just greenwashing?

Super Bowl XLV

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Just Energy, a green energy retailer supplying renewable energy certificates to Super Bowl venues, is claiming that ” the 2011 Super Bowl will be the greenest NFL championship on record.” Is this true, or is it just greenwashing?

Just Energy is contributing heavily to the Super Bowl’s sustainability with a commitment to offset all direct and indirect carbon emissions from power generation at major Super Bowl venues, including NFL Super Bowl
headquarters, the Super Bowl Media Center, the AFC and NFC team hotels,
and even the NFL Experience Football Theme Park. For every megawatt of electricity used to power these facilities, Just Energy is purchasing one megawatt of renewable energy from Sweetwater Wind Farm in Sweetwater, Texas. This will be the largest renewable energy
credit program in Super Bowl history.

And then there is Cowboy Stadium, the site of this year’s game. The stadium, which was the first to be recognized in the EPA’s National Environmental Performance Track Program, has targets to cut solid waste by 25%, water consumption by 1 million gallons, and energy use by 20% each year. All solid waste from the Super Bowl will be diverted to local recycling projects, and leftover materials will be sent to local non-profits.

This year is also the debut of the Super Grow XLV program, a partnership between the Texas
Trees Foundation and the Texas Forest Service that planted over
6,500 trees in 12 north Texas communities, marking it the biggest tree-planting effort in Super Bowl history (other Super Bowl-connected tree-planting efforts have been going on for years). The program is intended to offset CO2 emissions from Super Bowl events.

Do these efforts add up to a truly sustainable sporting event? Sort of. Just Energy’s renewable energy credits are helpful, but they aren’t sustainable as producing all that
renewable energy on site. And this year’s event will use 15,000 megawatts of power, or enough electricity to power 1,500 homes for a year. It would be more impressive if the NFL could cut that number in half. But Cowboy Stadium does, at least, have noble energy goals, and the NFL is doing more in the sustainability arena for this year’s game than it ever has before. Let’s just hope every year from now on features the “greenest NFL championship” yet.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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