Skip to content

Science Wednesday: A Sustainable Super Bowl XLVI

2012 February 8

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection.Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Marguerite Huber

On Sunday, February 5th 2012, thousands of people descended upon Indianapolis, Indiana to watch Super Bowl XLVI. While millions watched the game, they were probably unaware of the sustainability actions that were put forth at Lucas Oil Stadium.

I spoke with NFL Environmental Program Director, Jack Groh, about what his job entails. He describes his job as incorporating environmental principles into sporting events, all the while making good business decisions. In the 18 years Groh has been with the NFL, they have kept expanding their sustainability actions, moving from just solid waste recycling to green energy seven years ago.

This year the NFL will be offsetting the energy for the stadium with Renewable Energy Credits for an entire month! “We are renting the stadium for a month, so we believe we are responsible for our tenancy,” states Groh. In addition to the stadium, the program will be offsetting the city’s convention center and four major hotels. That’s an estimated total offset of 15,000 megawatt hours.

“Every year there is something new and exciting. We want to push the envelope and look for new impacts and strategies,” Groh proclaims. For example, diverting waste from landfills by promoting recycling and reuse, collecting extra prepared food for donations for soup kitchens, donating building and decorative materials to local organizations, and reducing the impact of greenhouse gases from Super Bowl activities. My favorite is the 2,012 Trees program, which will help plant 2,012 trees in Indianapolis to help offset environmental impacts.

What I found most interesting from talking with Mr. Groh was that he does not spend a lot of time with publicity, which is why many of you may have never heard of this program. “People are amazed that we have been doing this for two decades. We don’t do it to create an image or green presence in the media, but do it because it’s the right thing and a really smart way to run things. Our goal is make the Super Bowl as green as we possibly can make it.” Groh admitted.

Sustainability and sports is a growing trend, even if it is not seen on the surface of our favorite sporting events. I am excited to see how professional leagues will mold the core of their existence into a new form of competition that is not just for teams, but for the professional leagues themselves. With sustainability, everybody wins!

About the author: EPA intern Marguerite Huber is working on Masters in Public Affairs from Indiana University, concentrating in sustainable development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. aschaefer permalink
    February 9, 2012

    Thanks for this post. In all the Super Bowl build up – and all the commercials during the game – I certainly never heard mention of the sustainable measures the NFL had taken. I’m especially impressed by the ties to the community (by donating leftover food to soup kitchens, reaching out to schools for sports equipment and book donations, etc.), and I think these anecdotes would be great stories to share. Slyly pointing out that we haven’t heard of these efforts is a failure of public outreach. Everyone should hear about 2,012 (in fact, 2,876) trees!

  2. Gary King permalink
    February 18, 2012

    This was the first I heard of the sustainability efforts too. Maybe we ” have to start re-posting on Facebook, forward to the National Arbor Day Foundation, Departments of Natural Resources of states hosting the Superbowl in the next few years, the National Ad Council.
    Press releases from them and little ad spots (product placement in GE and Budweiser commercials) could heighten public awareness that “even the NFL” is concerned– so should you, and your company, too!

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS