The next generation of design: sustainable stadiums

Sustainable design is the next step in protecting our environment. Here's how stadiums are involved.

As the world’s population grows and demands more energy, businesses and consumers are working diligently to conserve available resources while exploring new renewable technologies.

This movement has gained a considerable following among those constructing mega structures – skyscrapers, stadiums, and colossal manufacturing facilities that have equally extreme energy demands.

NRG Energy has grown into one of the largest solar power installation companies in the U.S., currently set to produce more than 900 Mw of solar power this year.

“NRG is much more than a founding partner, they are providing the energy leadership, infrastructure and expertise to help us achieve the vision of making the new stadium an economically and environmentally sustainable showcase for innovation,” said Jed York, Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco 49ers.

The team’s new $1.2 billion stadium has a seating capacity of 68,500, with the capability to expand to 75,000 fans for other major events, such as the Super Bowl or FIFA World Cup. It will also pioneer the way for next generation stadium design.

NRG’s partnership with the 49ers will resulted in the first professional football stadium to open its gates with LEED certification — the standard for measuring a building’s sustainability.

HTNB, a globally renowned architecture firm, along with Turner-Devcon Construction, worked tirelessly around the clock to ensure the stadium opened for the kickoff of the 2014 NFL season.

One of the most unique features contributing to the LEEDS certification is a 27,000 square-foot Green Roof installation on the west side of the stadium, atop the suite tower.

The state-of-the-art Green Roof retains rainwater, filters pollutants out of the air, and acts as an insulator to the luxury suites, which can reduce cooling costs by over 50% via evaporative cooling.

Furthermore, a 20,000 square foot array of solar panels supplied by SunPower and installed by NRG Energy provides a total peak capacity of 400 Kw, resulting in enough power to achieve a net zero energy performance during home games.

The stadium also promotes renewable energy efforts with an NFL first; three bridges shaded by solar arrays connecting the main parking area to the stadium, creating an eco-friendly fan experience unlike any other.

Since 1987, the facility has served as the home to the 49ers administrative offices and training facility. The new expansion will address all of the team’s needs in a single location.

Thanks to the foresight of NRG Energy, HTNB, Turner/Devcon Construction, and the 49ers, the new stadium  set the standard of sustainability to which future stadiums will be held.

By Kelsey Elgie Domier

This article was originally published on SustainabilityToday. Image courtesy of