The NFL Scores with Clean Energy
[ASSURAS] With terms like "high-energy offense" and "power running game," there is a connection between football and energy, and it's not only on the field. With all the lights and scoreboards and everything else an NFL stadium runs on game day, you're talking about big energy challenges. In fact, over the course of a year, a typical NFL stadium uses enough electricity to power more than a thousand average U.S. homes. Multiply that across the league's 32 teams, and you could power a city the size of Rochester, Minnesota. That electricity can cost a football team millions of dollars a year.
So some teams are coming up with new power plays to save money and help the planet. The highlights from Chief Correspondent Tyler Suiters in this "energyNOW!" Spotlight.
[LORENZO ALEXANDER, LINEBACKER, WASHINGTON REDSKINS] This was last year, the first time we played the Eagles, my first start in the NFL.
[SUITERS] One look at Lorenzo Alexander's family room and you know it -- this man plays football, and he plays it well.
This says "Player of the Year."
[ALEXANDER] Yeah, special teams. And it's crazy, 'cause I've come a long way. Being undrafted in the NFL. Nobody wanted me.
[SUITERS] Now, Alexander is a special teams demon with the Washington Redskins, kicking off his seventh year in the National Football League. And he has the marks to prove it.
One of the things I noticed is how nicked up this jersey is. You play pretty hardcore.
[ALEXANDER] It's definitely a game-worn jersey. I always play 100%.
[SUITERS] But maybe his most telling trophy sits outside Alexander's Virginia home. Yeah, he has the professional athlete mega SUV, but parked next to it, a gasoline-sipping, four-door hybrid, a sign that the linebacker wants to live a greener life.
[ALEXANDER] True, I think I just allow people to see that it is okay to go across the grain. You know, NFL player riding in a small Prius. It's not the norm.
[ASSURAS] And neither is the game plan Alexander's team is putting into play. The Redskins home stadium, FedEx Field. It's now using brand-new solar panels. The largest solar array in the entire league. And it's generating about 20% of the power the stadium needs on game days.
[DANIEL SNYDER, OWNER, WASHINGTON REDSKINS] This really came from the standpoint that we wanted to do something to look at the alternative, look at the clean energy sources and really be progressive.
[SUITERS] Redskins team owner Dan Snyder isn't known for his patience. So once he decided to partner with NRG Energy on the solar project, well, you think Snyder's players move fast? The Redskins announced the move back in July. Construction at FedEx Field started later that month. And in September, the panels were up and running.
[SNYDER] I think you're going to have an opportunity here where other teams will see this and say, "This is the future. We need to be doing this."
[SUITERS] Do you ever think about how much energy the team uses during the game day -- I know you're pretty busy.
[ANTHONY ARMSTRONG, WIDE RECEIVER, WASHINGTON REDSKINS] Yeah, well, you've got to think about it. We've got those big old Jumbotrons and you've got 90,000 people coming in and out of there and lights and everything like that, so finding a way to get some clean energy is always good.
[SUITERS] Kickoff for the Redskins' solar array came against the Arizona Cardinals. And the Philadelphia Eagles are also installing solar panels and wind turbines at their home stadium.
[SUITERS] But it was a bird of a different feather that started the clean energy push at pro football stadiums around the league. The Seattle Seahawks installed the NFL's very first stadium solar array. There are almost 4,000 solar panels -- tubes, actually -- on top of this building next to CenturyLink Field. The result?
[MIKE McFAUL, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, CenturyLink FIELD] Our owner was generous enough and forward-thinking enough to put renewable energy up on a big, flat roof that isn't doing anything else.
[SUITERS] The owner Mike McFaul is referring to? That's Paul Allen, who knows a little bit about the technology of tomorrow. The Seahawks' team owner is a Microsoft cofounder and a driving force behind the greening of pro sports. His Green Sports Alliance Summit in Portland this summer drew reps from the NFL as well as other sports. The event's main message -- the businesses of sports and science go hand in hand.
[ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ, CO-FOUNDER, GREEN SPORTS ALLIANCE] 18% of Americans say they pay attention to science. 56% of Americans say they pay attention to sports. So if you want to influence American culture, are you going to send scientists out there to spout out the latest facts about global climate disruption? Or are you going to send a message to the supply chain that solar panels are being put on football stadiums?
[SUITERS] For the Seahawks, it's not just about solar panels.
[McFAUL] This is the facility control center right here.
[SUITERS] It's not much to look at, I've got to admit.
No, but the PCs housed here and the engineer handling the mouse, they control every light in the stadium. New high-output fluorescent lamps, lights with motion sensors, even the gigantic scoreboard. All of them are now using energy more efficiently. McFaul says he expects to cut his stadium's annual energy usage by more than 20%, a play that Alexander expects more teams to start running.
[ALEXANDER] And I'll guarantee you, soon to follow, other teams will start doing it, because this is a copycat league, whether you're playing football or on the business side of it. Everybody tries to follow everybody's suit.
[SUITERS] We hear so much about your players being regarded as role models for the community. Is an NFL team a role model for American businesses in some sense?
[SNYDER] I hope so, yeah -- It's a great question, because I really would like people to see this, both consumers and businesses, and have the opportunity to understand that we are actually creating 100% of our electrical power on non-game days.
[SUITERS] And creating a clean energy competition among the players as well. You see, Silicon Valley is the home of clean technology. Lorenzo Alexander played his college ball not far away at Cal. And his fellow Redskins defender, Oshiomogho Atogwe, he went to Stanford. So both California guys have a green reputation to guard.
Lorenzo said he knew more about being green because he's a Cal Bear. I'd imagine as a Stanford Cardinal you've got a little different take on that.
[OSHIOMOGHO ATOGWE, SAFETY, WASHINGTON REDSKINS] Yeah, his idea of going green is eating spinach or something like that. Them Bears have absolutely no idea what it means to go green.
[ALEXANDER] Ask him what he drives to work.
[SUITERS] What is it?
[ALEXANDER] He has some high-performance Camaro or something that's sucking up 93 gasoline.
[SUITERS] He said he's driving a Prius, still. Are you getting 50 miles a gallon?
[ATOGWE] I ride my bike, so I don't know.
[ALEXANDER] He definitely doesn't have me beat at all -- see, I have the Prius and the bike.
[TEXT ON SCREEN] Find out more about Redskin Lorenzo Alexander's "green" life at energyNOW.com.
[SUITERS] A pair of NFL role models ready for America's clean energy future. With the Redskins in Washington and the Seahawks in Seattle, Tyler Suiters, "energyNOW!"
[ASSURAS] The clean energy kick is apparently catching on among Washington Redskins fans. Washington, D.C., has won the EPA's first ever Green Power Community Challenge for using the most amount of green power in a year. D.C.'s businesses, residents, and government used enough renewable power to meet 8% of the city's total electricity use.
A typical NFL stadium uses enough electricity in a year to power about 1,000 average U.S. homes, leaving some football teams with annual power bills of more than a million dollars.
Correspondent Tyler Suiters visits two NFL franchises to learn how some teams are investing in renewable energy to save money and help the environment, and he meets players who are taking some green initiatives of their own.
Washington Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander talks about his green lifestyle.Watch now ...
Why are the Washington Redskins using renewable energy at FedEx Field, and where will the project go next?Watch now ...
NRG and the Washington Redskins are working together to raise public awareness about energy issues.Watch now ...
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