When the term “green” is applied to professional sports, chances are it is in reference to the grass on the field, or the colors of a team’s logo. For the NFL franchise the Philadelphia Eagles, one would assume the latter, but owner Jeffrey Lurie and his wife Christina have been spearheading an effort to improve the environment around Philadelphia.
In 2010, Lurie announced plans to add 2500 solar panels to the Eagles’ stadium Lincoln Financial Field. Along with the solar energy, the Eagles purchased 14 million kilowatt hours of wind power, emanating from eighty 20 ft. wind turbines located atop the stadium. The field also contains a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel, making it the first stadium capable of generating its own electricity. It is also the only stadium with capability to run on 100% renewable energy.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed a 20 year fixed rate deal with energy provider Solar Blue, providing the Eagles with stable energy costs and Solar Blue with consistent business. The move cut energy cost for the team by twenty-five percent in the first year.
The general consensus about sports franchises is that they are stuck in their conservative ways, too stubborn to move forward into new endeavors as the times change. This is an opportunity to not be the stereotypical sports franchise not on the cutting edge,” said Lurie. Consequently, the stereotype of the modern sports stadium is that it creates too much waste and uses too much energy.
Professional sports stadiums don’t use as much energy or create as much waste as one might think. They are in operation only during set times and dormant in others. The benefit of turning a stadium “green” besides financial is the message being sent out to the general public who has given that franchise its undivided attention.
“When sports say they are going to go solar or waterless, that sends an enormous message to the supply chain,” noted Allen Hershkowitz who leads the sports greening initiative of the National Resources Defense Council.
Since 2003 when Lincoln Financial Field was constructed, Lurie has focused on doing business with sponsors on board with the “green” movement. He has commissioned Aramark, the food service and cleaning contractor for the stadium to use 100% recycled fibers in all towels and tissues used in the park.
Lincoln Financial Field recycles 32 percent of its waste. It compacts 25 tons of organic waste and turns 10,000 gallons of grease and used kitchen oil into biodiesel a year. These efforts have saved the club $3 million since 2005.
Jeffrey Lurie also inspires employees to help the environment, by reimbursing energy costs of any worker for the club who installs wind power in his or her home.
The environmentally friendly and cost efficient model for the Eagles’ business has inspired teams across the four major sports to do the same, and has even caught the attention of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who said, “The Eagles’ green efforts underscore the position that we are all very visible and can make a significant effort in our communities. We think it’s smart business and the right thing to do.”