Super Bowl LI is less than a week away! While many fans are eager to see whether the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons will come out on top, we wanted to explore the game from a different angle.

It should go without saying:  it takes a lot of energy to power something an event like the Super Bowl.  The venue/stadium needs to be able to support the equipment required to light up the field, locker rooms, concessions, suites, walkways, etc, not to mention all of the different devices requiring electricity that are needed to provide fans with food, heat, audio, video, and more.  Let’s also not forget about all of the people watching the game at a restaurant, bar, home, etc. within America and all over the world.

We thought it’d be interesting (to us, at least) to take a look at all of the elements that make up a Super Bowl to determine just how Super Bowl LI (and its organizers) plan to handle the inevitable energy consumption.

NRG Stadium

This year the Super Bowl is being hosted by Houston in NRG Stadium.

NRG Stadium is a relatively new building as its construction was completed in the early 2000s. Prior to the NRG Stadium, Houston’s NFL team — the Texans — played in the Houston Astrodome (which was actually the first multi-purpose dome stadium in the United States). However, the stadium was considerable smaller than most around the league, and even after several renovations, it just could not compete with more modern facilities in other states.

Houston actually lost their NFL home team until 1999 when it was decided the league would expand to 32 teams. The Houston Texans were formed and in partnership with the Livestock Show and Rodeo, the city was finally able to build a new stadium. In 2004, the venue hosted its first Super Bowl, which was also the first time the championship game was hosted in a retractable roof stadium.

Reliant Energy purchased the naming rights in late 2000, but were bought out by NRG in 2014. This is the reason behind why the stadium is called NRG Stadium.

Multi-Purpose Venue

While often home to the NFL’s Houston Texans, the stadium is multi-purpose, meaning that it can handle more than just football. It also provides a home to the:

  • Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
  • Texas Bowl
  • USA National Soccer Team matches

NRG Stadium Details

In total, NRG Stadium is 1.9 million square feet, with 97,000 share feet of playing surface. The stadium itself holds 72,220 seats with a total of 197 suites. There are many other amenities within the building including,

  • 8,200+ club seats
  • Texan Team Store
  • 187 Luxury Suites
  • Several Clubs, Bars and Lounges

One special element to the stadium is that it has a retractable roof. Made from steel and fabric covering, it takes just 7 minutes to open. When it comes to the visual details, NRG stadium makes use of high end, state of the art equipment and electronics including:

  • Field lighting – 480 luminaries with over 65,000 LEDs
  • 2 LED Fascia Displays
  • 1 360 Degree LED Fascia Display
  • 2 Scoreboard displays, each with: a video LED board and 4 Lamp Matrix Displays
  • 2 Game in progress scoreboards
  • Over 1,550 HD LCD flat screen TVs
  • 4 HD Video projection screens
  • 4 HD LED video boards

Stadium Energy Efficient Lighting

On Sunday, as mentioned above, NRG Stadium’s field will be lit with 65,000 LED bulbs. The lighting improvement project took place in 2015 making the stadium became one of the first professional event spaces to use energy efficient lights.

At full power, the lighting system uses 337 kilowatts, which is 60% less energy than the previous system. Other benefits to the new lighting system also includes:

  • No warm-up time
  • No red tinge or glow
  • Dimming capabilities
  • No flickering

In addition to more energy efficient lighting, there are 599 solar panels that generate power for the stadium. These solar panels were installed along the bridges that fans can walk along to and from the venue.

Super Bowl Energy Consumption

As you can imagine, pulling off something that draws in 100+ million TV viewers (111.9m in 2016), not to mention the thousands of people in attendance, isn’t an easy feat. This is why many organizations involved in putting together the elements needed for such a large event are dedicated to maximizing value without sacrificing the impact on the environment and grid.

Super Bowl Around the World

While it’s true that Americans are the largest viewership of the Super Bowl, there are many other countries that love to get in on the action. In general, the Super Bowl is broadcasted to 180 countries in 25 different languages.

In terms of viewership, stats include:

  • Mexico: 23.3 million viewers
  • Brazil: 19.7 million viewers
  • Canada: 7.21 million viewers
  • South Korea: 6.72 million viewers
  • Germany: 6.66 million viewers
  • United Kingdom: 5.73 million viewers
  • Spain: 3.56 million viewers
  • Saudi Arabia: 3.12 million viewers
  • Australia: 2.64 million viewers
  • Argentina: 2.06 million viewers

Super Bowl Green Legacy

Despite the fact that people are using less energy during the game, there are still several major environmental impacts on the host city (more people, more cars, pollution, waste, etc.).  The stadium itself requires a significant amount of enery to entertain so many people, but other facilities like hotels and restaurants also play host to all of the visitors and fans.

The environmental impact on the city of Houston (and elsewhere) isn’t lost on the organizations organizing the Super Bowl and related events. This year, NRG Energy, NRG Parks/Stadium and other local companies have pitched into ensure that the city remains as green as possible.

One of the biggest projects the city will undertake alongside NRG Energy includes the Green Energy Project.

The Green Energy Project ensures that during major Super Bowl events, as well as the Super Bowl itself, Houston will consume as much green energy as possible. This pertains to major stadiums like NRG Stadium, George R. Brown Convention Center, as well as the hotels used by both NFL and AFC teams and staff. To reduce the impact of energy emissions generated by the Super Bowl, the energy company NRG will provide the appropriate renewable energy certificates (RECs).

Some of the other organized green events include:

  • Urban Forestry, Pollinator Planting Project
  • Super Bowl LI E-Waste Recycling Rally
  • Bastrop Reforestation Project
  • Food Recovery Project
  • Urban Forestry Event
  • Material Recovery Project

Ultimately, this may be one of the “greenest” Super Bowls in history.