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Solar Power Plays Big at New 49ers Stadium

The new football stadium for the San Francisco 49ers will produce enough solar power to offset the energy demands created from home games, the team announced last week.

New Jersey-based NRG Energy will install numerous solar arrays at the new Santa Clara Stadium, including on three highly-visible covered bridges connecting the main parking area to the stadium. There will also be arrays above the green roof on the suite tower portion of the stadium and over the 49ers training center. The arrays will have a total peak capacity of about 400kW.

In addition, the stadium is expected to earn LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (the certification level was not announced). The stadium’s other green features include public transit access, convenient bicycle parking, a walking path from the San Tomas Creek Trail, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, low-CO2 concrete, recycled materials and other sustainable design elements.

The $1.2 billion venue will seat approximately 68,500 and is designed to be a multi-purpose facility with the flexibility to host a range of events, including domestic and international soccer, college football, motocross and concerts.

Numerous stadiums and professional sports franchises across the country are taking steps to reduce their environmental impact led by industry associations, such as the Green Sports Alliance.

In 2011, the NFL's Washington Redskins installed approximately 8,000 solar panels at FedExField, and the city’s baseball stadium earned LEED Silver certification in 2008. The Seattle Mariners are working towards zero waste at Safeco Field, and the NHL purchased water restoration credits to offset the impact of the Stanley Cup beginning in 2011.

@Bart_King is a freelance writer and communications consultant.