Sustainability at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Last week, I went to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the newest attractions in the capital of Georgia, with my AP Environmental Science class. You, along with me and the other people in my class, are undoubtedly wondering why a sports stadium was chosen for a lesson in sustainability. However once I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s much more to sustainability at the stadium than the recycling cans that are lined up every few yards.
Officially, the Mercedes-Benz stadium has LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification, the highest level achievable. By reaching this certification in 2017, it became the first professional sports venue in the United States to achieve this.
A big part of their sustainability mission is to achieve zero waste, which can be defined as diverting at least 90% of waste from landfills. All waste from the stadium is collected in the Resource Recovery Room, where it is then sorted and sent to specific locations, whether it be to be recycled, composted, or uniquely recycled by CHaRM (Center for Hard to Recycle Materials). As for unused food, it’s packaged and donated to Second Helpings Atlanta, who gives them to those Atlanta residents who are in need.
Along with reducing food waste, the stadium also conserves water, being designed to achieve a 47% reduction in water use. Plumbing fixtures utilize low-flow systems and the men’s restrooms have waterless urinals. A 680,000 gallon cistern is located underground and collects storm water, which is later used for landscape and urban garden irrigation.
The stadium has around 4,000 solar panels, generating 1.6 million kilowatt hours per year. In addition, to reduce electrical use for heating, a 160,000 square foot pane of plastic is used to allow natural light to filter through. Overall, 29% of electrical use has been reduced through the stadium’s efforts.
Mercedes-Benz also sponsors an on-site community urban garden, along with multiple beehives, to foster and promote sustainability in the community.