- by Lauren Hepler –
Pedestrian bridges decked out in solar panels and a living roof ready for private parties and photo ops might not scream professional football.
But those green design elements and others at the San Francisco 49ers’ new $1.3 billion Levi’s Stadium on Tuesday helped land the team its long-sought LEED Gold certification at the Santa Clara venue, which officially opened with a ribbon cutting last week.
The Niners earned 41 points on the 51-point scale for LEED certification, inching a few notches higher than the 39 points required for the sustainable building designation. With the points tallied, the team becomes the first in the National Football League to claim LEED Gold status for a new stadium.
The 49ers’ focus on LEED certification also exemplifies a push for teams across the sports world to better mitigate the environmental impact of their massive, energy-intensive events, as the National Hockey League has also recently detailed.
Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, said in a statement Tuesday that the 49ers have demonstrated “tremendous green building leadership.”
Though the 68,500 square-foot sports stadium obviously has higher brand visibility than any old building, office and residential developers throughout the stereotypically “green” Bay Area have also worked toward LEED certifications. The ultimate designation is LEED Platinum.
One of the most intricate environmental elements at Levi’s Stadium is a solar energy system that the team says will generate enough power to balance out the energy used at home football games — a feat called “net zero” energy usage. The team has two different sponsors in the solar energy field, though no financial terms for those agreements have been disclosed publicly, who have supplied and installed more than 1,000 solar panels.
Additional energy will likely be needed to power lights, concessions, outlets and other features at the stadium for non-49ers events at the stadium, the team has said