Monday, I posted an interview with Philadelphia Eagles Minority Owner Christina Weiss Lurie about their beyond groundbreaking Go Green campaign. Yesterday, I saw Go Green up close and personal, during the Beyond Sport Summit’s Sport and Sustainability Day at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles.
Beyond Sport is a global organization dedicated to the use of sport as a significant agent of positive social change. The Summit, which concludes today, tackles a wide variety of issues through the prism of sports, from Sustainability to Health, from Safeguarding Children to Education.
Not surprisingly I chose the Sustainability option and my reward was a day of informative panel discussions, as well as a tour of The Linc’s state-of-the-art complex.
Let’s start with the tour. Eagles President Don Smolenski and Tom Gros, Chief Customer Officer of NRG, the developer of the Eagles on-site solar and wind installations, treated us to an up close & personal look at the largest solar and wind array in the Philadelphia area.
Solar array, topped by Eagle-talon shaped wind turbines at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Smolenski and Gros expressed both pride and humble amazement at what has been built and accomplished to date…
- An 11,000 panel solar photovoltaic (PV) array plus rooftop wind turbines were installed on the stadium. This project took only 8 months from start to finish (that is the solar power installation equivalent of Chip Kelly’s up-tempo Eagle offense).
- Rows upon rows of canopied carports, topped by solar panels were put up in the north parking lot. The panels are high enough to fit RVs and buses and, perhaps most importantly, to allow most passes from tailgaters. 30% of the Eagles electricity needs are generated by the solar and wind system at The Linc.
- The system was designed to withstand most hurricanes (it survived Sandy), earthquakes and even pyrotechnics. The Eagles have Fireworks Night and the wind turbines were designed to accommodate fireworks, perhaps a first!
- The inverter, a big, boring block structure in the north parking lot, was converted into a canvass on which a schematic was painted. It shows fans how solar power works. The inverter plays a key part in the solar power story, converting the DC current generated by the panels to useable AC.
- More fan education, via signage adjacent to a walkway traversed by thousands of fans on game day.
…but they emphasized they are at the beginning of a long journey that will include a new focus on water conservation, electric car charging, and increasing fan engagement.
Carports, topped by solar panels in the North Lot
From NRG’s point of view, this is not only a Philadelphia Story. It provides on-site electricity generation and other clean energy services for 8 of the most high profile NFL teams/stadiums, including Washington Redskins/FedEx Field, New England Patriots/Gillette Stadium, and the New York Giants and Jets/MetLife Stadium. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49’ers starting next season, will be NRG’s 8th NFL stadium and will be the league’s first LEED Certified facility.
Artists rendering of Levi’s Stadium (Field of Jeans?), Santa Clara, CA
NRG, which still generates most of its power from fossil fuels, is also the leading green energy producer in the US. It is firmly planted at the intersection of Green + Sports. I will delve into the company’s role in this space in future posts.
The Eagles/NRG renewable energy story is told via signage on the fan walkway. 20,000-30,000 fans walk by on game day.
Turning to the panel discussions, here are several observations:
- It’s great to be at an event with the Eagles the day after they open the season with a resounding road victory at division rival Washington on Monday Night Football (cue the MNF music!). In fact, the whole city of Philadelphia (at least the folks I passed by on my walk to the conference) seemed to be wearing a big smile the morning after Iggles 33, Redskins 27.
- Philadelphia’s pro sports teams collaborate a great deal on sustainability-related issues. This has to be due, at least in part, to the fact that Philly is unique among US cities in that all of its sports stadia/arenas are in the same complex (Citizen’s Bank Park, home of the Phillies; Wells Fargo Center home of both the 76’ers and the Flyers, and The Linc are all across the street from each other). Whatever the reasons, the first panel of the day, which featured executives from the Flyers, Phillies, Spectrum Events (the company that manages Wells Fargo) as well as the City of Philadelphia’s Sustainability Director, demonstrated that the teams both cooperate and compete (in a friendly manner) to move the green ball forward.
- Brandon Igdalsky, General Manager of Pocono Racetrack, 90 minutes up the road and a world apart from Philadelphia, credited the Eagles Go Green campaign for motivating him and his team to embrace sustainability. In fact, he said that Pocono has the largest number of solar panels of any facility in Pennsylvania, not the Eagles. Have no fear, dear readers; GSB will get to the bottom of this issue!
- I met an amazing young woman from Seattle, Kona Shen. Ms. Shen spoke powerfully about the non-profit she founded, GOALS Haiti. GOALS uses soccer to engage rural Haitian youth in community work and education that improve quality of life and develop new leadership. Now that sounds great but it reads kind of flat. That’s why Kona Shen will be a subject of a future GSB Interview that will, I’m sure, bring GOALS Haiti to life.
What a memorable day—one that left me more bullish than ever about the power of the intersection of Green + Sport. Please visit GSB Thursday for more from Beyond Sport.
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