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

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
Font Size:

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.

The company is also looking into installing electric-vehicle charging stations throughout the stadium, which is set to open in 2014.

According to the stadium’s website, it will be 90 percent-funded by the sale of stadium assets, like naming rights. The rest of the cost will come from the city of Santa Clara.

This project will be the fifth NFL stadium that NRG has worked with to install renewable energy equipment, including FedEx Field, Patriot Place, Lincoln Financial Field, and MetLife Stadium. The company has also worked with seven other NFL teams, including the New York Jets, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, the Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys.

Follow Michael on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact