6 Reasons Why the 2016 Super Bowl Is Greener and More Philanthropic Than Ever

This year’s Super Bowl Host Committee is making sure the Bay Area keeps to its eco-conscious mentality even in the midst of football fandom.
(Photo: Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
Feb 5, 2016· 2 MIN READ
TakePart editorial fellow Nicole Mormann covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, and environment.

There’s good reason for those living in the city dubbed greenest in North America to cheer this Super Bowl Sunday—besides during the game, of course.

This year, the world’s largest single sporting event is breaking records as the most philanthropic and green Super Bowl to date.

It’s a reality that seems like an oxymoron for sports given that fans often blow their money on booze and food, and entire stadiums are usually left covered in mustard-stained hot dog wrappings. But in the city with a zero-waste goal by 2020, officials are seeking to show that besides being rewarding for NFL fans, the game can benefit the community and take less of a bite out of the environment.

“The idea here is not that we are tree huggers,” Neill Duffy, the sustainability director of this year’s Super Bowl Host Committee, a planning team consisting of local corporate partners, told Forbes. “What I’ve seen over the years is that the world is very polarized around sustainability issues, but we want to demonstrate that you can do both well and good. We are not just focused on delivering social and environmental returns but economic returns as well.”

Here are six ways this year’s committee, which includes former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, is helping to make Super Bowl 50 an event that not only promotes sustainable practices but aims to give back to those who can’t afford a game-day ticket.

1. A Record Amount of Philanthropic Funds Were Raised

This year, the Host Committee raised more than $12 million for local charities—an amount that’s said to be unmatched by previous committees. The usual target amount is at least $1 million, which the NFL then matches.

So far, the “50 Fund” has provided more than $7 million in grants to 140 organizations scattered around the Bay Area.

2. The Stadium Itself Is Environmentally Friendly

NFL fans may not always be the most eco-conscious when it’s game day, but Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is. It’s the first U.S. professional football venue to achieve LEED gold certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification system that recognizes low-impact efficient buildings. Gold is the second-highest level of certification a structure can receive in the four-tiered system.

3. A Leader in Sustainability Is Guiding the Game

The Host Committee named TerraPass, a company that helps businesses and individuals offset their greenhouse gas emissions, an official sustainability partner of the game activities. With the guidance of TerraPass, the committee aims to reduce carbon emissions of the thousands expected to attend by making sure the teams go to and from the event in carbon-neutral transportation and minimizing or eliminating any electricity use not powered by the stadium’s solar panels.

4. Eco-Friendly Transportation Is an Option for Fans

A partnership between the Host Committee and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition will make it possible for fans to travel to and from the event without the worry of their bikes being stolen or destroyed. With funding from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, a bike valet area will be set up at Super Bowl City so fans have a safe place to store their bikes. In addition, the Host Committee is ensuring that ticket holders have the option of sharing rides or taking public transportation to the stadium through the Super Bowl 50 Fan Express and Car Share program.

5. No Food or Water Bottles Will Go to Waste

A food recovery program called Food Runners will make sure prepared food gone uneaten from the Super Bowl is redirected to Bay Area–based food banks and soup kitchens.

In an effort to reduce water waste, the committee also implemented a rule that there will be no single-use bottles at the event. Fans are instead encouraged to bring their own reusable water bottles, which they can fill up at water stations around Super Bowl City.

6. Fans Are Able to “Play Their Part”

The Host Committee created the “Play Your Part” campaign to offer fans the opportunity to give back and engage in sustainable practices. Through the program, fans are able to earn points for pledging to take action on making eco-friendly choices and supporting environmental causes that could earn them Super Bowl tickets and related prizes. The incentive benefits fans while raising awareness about environmental issues.