Sustainability and the NFL

Atlanta Stadium

Every year, large sporting events produce tons of waste and consume incredible amounts of energy. Fortunately, this has led more leagues and owners to be considerate of environmental efforts when building new stadiums – like the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Hailed as the most sustainable venue in the NFL, it’s a multipurpose stadium, but has most prominently served as the home of the Atlanta Falcons since it opened in 2017. While they may be following in the footsteps of other teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, who have championed environmental efforts of their own, the Falcons are establishing a new standard for others in the league and around sports to follow. 

Given this, we thought we’d take a closer look at the stadium and the team that calls it home. 

Green Efforts

On average, each NFL fan who attends a game produces a pound and-a-half of trash – every time he or she attends. As you might imagine, this makes a big impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, and when a stadium like this one can help make a difference, the fans and their neighbors are going to notice. 

Those behind the Mercedes-Benz Stadium worked hard to earn one of the best green certifications in construction, called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Put out by the U.S. Green Building Council, this certification comes only if a challenging, demanding list of building qualifications is met. And in this case, the project earned the distinction in the water category (admittedly just one of nine categories). It’s actually one of seven NFL stadiums with some kind of LEED certification – a good sign for the league moving forward – but the only one to have earned it in this category. 

The stadium also uses LED lighting, which requires less energy than standard options. Furthermore, what energy is required comes from solar panels fixed on the stadium exterior. In this regard, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is setting an example that will hopefully be easy for most if not all major sports stadiums to follow in the near future. 

The Home Team

This isn’t meant to be a sports piece, but it does help to know the team that is effectively the face of a sustainable venue like this. Established in the 1950s, the Falcons are one of the younger teams in the NFC (one of two NFL conferences). But they’ve become a fairly formidable franchise, particularly in recent years (nearly winning the Super Bowl in 2017.

The current betting outlook for the NFL doesn’t necessarily include the Falcons as prominent Super Bowl contenders for the 2019 season. However, the team is being given a decent chance to compete in its division (the NFC South), and that means the playoffs should be within reach. Now, we’re under no illusion that this means time will be set aside to celebrate the sustainability of the Falcons’ home stadium on TV. But the more competitive the team is, the more people may be inclined to take notice. 

The Importance of Teaching Others To Care

It’s particularly important for the new NFL stadiums to embrace green efforts. Without getting into the politics, the NFL’s fan demographics tend to skew a bit older and a bit whiter than those of some other major sports. This at least loosely implies a more conservative fan base, which in turn means one less concerned with environmental efforts, in a very general sense. Thus, any positive example the NFL can show (like the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta) to its millions and millions of fans may be of service to the environment beyond pure energy saved or waste avoided. Over time, people watching may just come to appreciate and support efforts that prioritize the environment. 

As the Falcons get ready to start their 54th season of NFL football, they do so as a subtle but significant example of sustainability and care for the environment. Let’s hope they make a good run of it, and the spotlight on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium grows brighter as a result! 

Author:

Melissa Jordan – She is Australian and has interest in travel and photography. Physically, Melissa is in pretty good shape and loves doing challenging things. She grew up in a working class neighbourhood. She was raised by her father, her mother having left when she was young.

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