The Super Bowl is an energy-guzzling, carbon-emitting, trash-generating machine, and Sunday’s tournament promises to be no different. Tens of thousands of football fans will take petroleum-powered flights to Glendale, Arizona, to watch the New England Patriots square off against reigning champions, the Seattle Seahawks. Visitors will eat mountains of food and drink rivers of beer and soda in the stadium and at related events, and they’ll flip on lights and shower off in dozens of hotels.
“Any large activity has the potential to generate a significant amount of waste … and use of lot of resources,” says Jack Groh, the director of the National Football League’s environmental program since 1993. But that’s why the NFL works year-round with host cities and corporate sponsors to minimize the environmental toll of the massive sporting event. “We turn what could be a negative impact on the community into a positive impact,” he says.
At the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, for instance, the Lucas Oil Stadium and related venues used around 15,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power about 1,400 average U.S. homes for a year. To counteract that energy use, the utility Green Mountain Energy provided an equal amount of “renewable energy credits” to support energy production from carbon-free sources such as wind turbines and solar panels, according to an Indiana sustainability report.