Houston's NRG Stadium to showcase its energy-efficient lighting during Super Bowl

31 January 2017

The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will face off for the National Football League title in Super Bowl LI on a field illuminated exclusively by 65,000 LED lights on Feb. 5.

Houston's NRG Stadium, home to the NFL’s Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, became one of the first professional venues to use energy-efficient LED lights in 2015. The new lighting system uses 337 kilowatts when at full power, about 60 percent less energy than the previous system did.

“We are deeply committed to providing renewable, reliable and affordable energy solutions, and these installations at these different stadiums really are designed to show the many thousands of fans that come and go for the game how these things work and how practical they are,” said Pat Hammond, director of media relations at NRG.This stadium hasn’t hosted the Super Bowl since 2004 and has undergone many changes since then.

Not only has the stadium undergone the switch to LED lighting, but it also now features 599 solar panels. Running along pedestrian bridges that bring fans to and from the stadium, the panels collect energy that is used to power the venue.

The stadium also experienced a name change, converting from Reliant Stadium to NRG Stadium in 2014.

“One of the reasons we believe having our name on a stadium like this is we want people to realize how affordable and reliable renewable energy solutions can be,” said Hammond.

In addition to consuming less energy, the LED lights have various visual benefits. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, the LED lights have no flicker, no red tinge and no warm-up time. These lights can be dimmed for events that don’t require them at full capacity, allowing for further energy savings.

“That’s the kind of technology that anybody could use in their own home to reduce their own electricity usage,” said Hammond.

NRG Park’s energy saving efforts fit well with the Super Bowl’s initiative to “reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl activities and leave a ‘green’ legacy throughout the Greater Houston Area,” according to the Super Bowl Host Committee website.

Throughout January, the Super Bowl Host Committee held a series of events to encourage environment-friendly behavior as well as to reduce Super Bowl LI’s impact on the environment. Events included an Electronic-Waste Recycling Rally and a Bastrop Reforestation Project. The reforestation project brought together representatives from the NFL, Verizon, Super Bowl Host Committee, Trees for Houston, elected officials and community members to improve the neighborhood and plant trees in one of the city’s parks.

According to the Super Bowl Host Committee website, “green” energy will be used to power event venues such as NRG Stadium, the George R. Brown Convention Center and hotels used by the teams and staff.

The efforts don’t stop when the time on the clock runs out, with food and material recovery beginning immediately after the game. Food that was prepared in event kitchens, but never served, will be donated to shelters, missions, soup kitchens and other community programs.

Material recovery will involve donating items such as building materials, décor, fabric, carpeting and sign materials to local organizations as an effort to keep materials out of landfills.

Environmental concerns have become increasingly important to the NFL and Super Bowl Host Committees. The venues for future Super Bowls were carefully chosen with the environment in mind.

Super Bowl 2018 will be played at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, which opened in July 2016. According to the stadium’s website, U.S. Bank Stadium is the first to use LED lights from the onset and is in the works to become LEED certified.

In 2019, the Super Bowl will be played in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home to the Atlanta Falcons. This stadium, while still under construction, is on track to receive LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of certification under the United States Green Building Council’s standards, according to the USGBC website.