By Theodora Filis
The Philadelphia Eagles, already recognized in the NFL as a sustainability leader, have announced a massive renewable energy installation that will catapult them ahead of any sporting club worldwide.
The plan, scheduled to be finished in time for next September's start of the 2011 National Football League season, will see 80 spiral-shaped wind turbines attached atop the stadium and 2,500 solar panels installed. Natural gas and bio-diesel fuel will power the 7.5MW co-generation plant.
“Giving back to the community and leading by example”, is how Don Smolenski, Philadelphia Eagles, COO describes the sustainable initiatives started by Jeffrey Lurie and his wife Christina back in 2003 when the stadium first opened its doors.
Partners such as SCA, suppliers of Tork paper products,and Aramark,who replaced petroleum-based plastic cups with corn-based bio-plastics, and most foodservice items with recycled materials that can be composted, have been strong supporters of the Eagles initiatives.
According to Smolenski, “SCA and Aramark are partners working toward the same goal”. SCA is one of the most environmentally friendly companies in the world. Working with partners like SCA and Aramark, the Eagles have “kept cost to or less than, non-recyclable items” according to Smolenski.
In 2009, the Eagles powered 100% of their operations by the sun and wind. Through a comprehensive program encompassing major and minor energy uses, "the Eagles have cut their electricity usage by nearly 50% since the stadium’s first full year of operation in 2004". Smolenski goes on to say, “A tremendous sense of community pride” resonates throughout the Eagles organization and the city of Philadelphia.
Sustainable initiatives are not the only reason the Eagles have to be proud. In their training facility hangs the "Wall of Hero's" which Smolenski says are "life hero's not football hero's". People like Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who serve as an inspiration for the many programs initiated by Jeffrey and Christina Lurie and team President Joe Banner.
"Programs like Breast Cancer Awareness started with the Eagles and the NFL", Smolenski proudly remarks. He goes on to explain how the Eagles involvement in social initiatives spans, "From inner-city school make-over’s to reimbursement programs born by an employee"
It is obvious in the way his voice brightens up when describing the social initiatives taken by the Eagles, as well as how they have affected the community, that these actions are more than mere publicity stunts for Smolenski and the Eagles organization. They are long term goals set by responsible citizens that in the long run will help to make Philadelphia and the NFL become more sustainable.