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The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This year’s Super Bowl will be held in the most environmentally acclaimed sports stadium in the U.S., the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The 2-million-square-foot arena, designed by HOK, opened to the public in August 2017 and was the first professional sports stadium in the U.S. to achieve Platinum LEED certification, the highest rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Why it matters: A typical NFL game may produce up to 35 tons of waste, or roughly 1.5 pounds per guest. Showcasing sustainability efforts at these highly watched and attended events will help educate fans, reduce operating costs for owners and ultimately lessen the environmental impact for surrounding neighborhoods.

Details:

  • The stadium is equipped with 82,500 square feet of LED lighting, which lasts 10 times longer than standard lighting and reduces energy use by up to 60%.
  • 4,000 onsite solar panels can generate 1.6 million kilowatt-hours, enough to power 10 Atlanta Falcons games or 13 Atlanta United soccer matches.
  • It's the first professional sports stadium in the U.S. to earn all LEED's water category credits, owing to the installation of an advanced storm water management system that can store over 2 million gallons of water, which helps reduce flooding risk to surrounding areas.
  • Fans can use any one of the 48 EV charging stations or take advantage of bike valets.

The big picture: The NFL has a long history of promoting sustainability across its organization to lessen the environmental impact of its events, starting with a pilot recycling program that debuted during the 1994 Super Bowl.

  • 2017 Draft Day in Philadelphia featured many sustainability initiatives, including solid-waste and food recovery programs.
  • New and old arenas are encouraged to adopt sustainable practices that demonstrate to fans both the environmental and economic benefits of sustainability.

Yes, but: There is still progress to be made with other stadiums during normal seasons. While 6 NFL stadiums currently have LEED certification, and others have clear plans in place, 6 operate absent any announced initiatives.

What to watch: Expect more stadiums to follow, as the NFL recently announced a membership with the Green Sports Alliance, an organization aimed at encouraging green and renewable practices at sporting events.

Maggie Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, an intellectual property law firm. She is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.

Go deeper

Trump can't quit mainstream media

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are interviewed by Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" in September. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa issued a rebuttal on Friday to a statement by former President Donald Trump that misrepresented their reporting — and once again showed the 45th president's thin skin about mainstream media.

Driving the news: "Former President Trump said ... our book, 'Peril,' implied that he was planning to go to war with China," the statement begins. "[W]e report that Chairman of Joint Chiefs Mark Milley 'believed that Trump did not want a war' before or after the 2020 election."

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an announcement about a new plan transforming Penn Station on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly-identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

2 hours ago - Health

First cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Two cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in the United Kingdom overnight, the U.K. Health Security Agency announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The discovery comes as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.