When the Ravens and 49ers face off Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII, it will be in a city—and stadium—that have spent more than six years battling back from natural and ecological disaster.
So it’s no surprise that New Orleans aims to set a new mark for environmental sustainability in its ninth turn at hosting the NFL’s marquee event, reflecting a broader green movement that is changing the look of stadiums and attitudes throughout the sports world.
“It’s a wonderful platform to bring people together to think about how our actions as individuals matter, and what we can do about climate change,” says Patty Riddlebarger, director of corporate social responsibility for the Gulf Coast energy company Entergy. She has chaired the New Orleans Host Committee’s environmental effort over the past two years.
Riddlebarger notes that much of the world holds a lingering image of the Superdome far different from the renovated stadium that will showcase the game. After a $336 million restoration, the “refuge of last resort” for 30,000 people during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 is now buttressed with protective and energy-saving features. The stadium’s outer wall is a specially designed double barrier system with improved insulation and rainwater control. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as it is now known, is ringed with 26,000 LED lights, covering two million square feet and supported by five miles of copper wiring, but which draw only ten kilowatts of electricity—as much as a small home. The stadium stands as an example for “not just rebuilding what was there before, but making it more environmentally sound,” Riddlebarger says.