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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)  

Energy Department loan recipient teams up with 49ers to help build new ‘green’ stadium

As the San Francisco 49ers prepare to take the field for the Super Bowl, the team announced that its future stadium will set new standards for “green” sustainability among professional football teams — and it’s getting more than a little help from the White House along the way.

The 49ers have teamed up with renewable energy company NRG Energy to make the stadium more environmentally friendly, with plans to make it the first professional football stadium to open with LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“I want people to understand that this isn’t green for green’s sake; this is going to be a functionally green stadium,” said Jed York, CEO of the 49ers.

David Crane, president and CEO of NRG Energy, said that “NRG is proud to partner with the San Francisco 49ers and the Santa Clara Stadium Authority in the pursuit of another milestone, the LEED certification of their new stadium.”

NRG Energy has been a major recipient of the same controversial loan guarantees received by the now-bankrupt solar company Solyndra. NRG has received $3.8 billion in DOE loan guarantees — nearly 24 percent of the total loans granted under the Section 1705 loan program. (RELATED: Other DOE-backed projects appear to have Solyndra-like problems)

The USGBC, a nonprofit, created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, green-building certification program. Buildings can achieve four different levels of LEED certification, based on a 100-point scale. The more points a building receives from taking eco-friendly measures, the higher the certification level.

LEED-certified buildings can even qualify for tax breaks in certain localities. USA TODAY reported that about 2,000 developments nationwide received $500 million in tax breaks.

“Rules regarding tax incentives vary from one state to another and even from one city to another,” said Patricia Hammond, a spokeswoman for NRG Energy. “To the extent tax incentives apply at any of the NFL facilities where we have installed solar or renewable energy systems, we have applied (or will when the facilities are complete) for those incentives that are designed to help nurture the renewables industry, boost energy security and benefit the environment.”

The County of Santa Clara did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on tax incentives the greened stadium would qualify for.

The $1.2 billion stadium will include three solar array-covered bridges, a green roof and solar panels over the team’s training center. According to NRG, the solar arrays will have a total peak capacity of 400 kilowatts, and produce “enough power over the course of a year to offset the power consumed at the stadium during 49ers home games,” meaning it will achieve “net zero energy performance.”

The 27,000 square-foot green roof will be located on top of the luxury suites tower and include 2,000 tons of dirt and a plant garden to “soak up rainwater and provide insulation for those suites,” reports CBS News.

Hundreds of solar panels will cover the stadium’s three solar bridges that will connect the main parking area to the stadium, and will be the first the solar bridges in the NFL. There will also be other green design elements, such as heavy and light rail and public transit access, and “convenient bicycle parking” — for all of those NFL fans who ride bikes to games.