The Philadelphia Eagles, in addition to trying to win a playoff game today against Green Bay, are also shooting to become the first major U.S. sports team to play in a stadium that is totally self-sufficient on renewable energy. The Eagles’ owner, Jeff Lurie, is currently in the process of retrofitting Lincoln Financial Field with solar panels, wind turbines, and a biodiesel fueled power plant – all to be ready by next season’s opening kickoff.
Going green will pay big dividends – utility costs are the second biggest expense for the team, the highest being payroll. They’re investing $30 million with SolarBlue to install the 80 vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs), 2,500 solar panels, and a 7.6 MW biodiesel power plant. The agreement with SolarBlue calls for the team to buy all their power from SolarBlue at a fixed rate for the next 20 years, saving the Eagles about $60 million in energy costs. They estimate that the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will be the equivalent of taking 41,000 cars off the road.
The Eagles are not new to the conservation effort. The stadium recycles 80% of its trash (they want to get to 100%), grass clippings from the turf are all composted, and old cooking oil and grease from the kitchens and concession stands are converted into biodiesel, which is then used to power the stadium’s lawn mowers. Leftovers from the kitchens are all donated to local food shelters.