The 'Skins Go Solar

Video by Casey Wood and Clara Pak

The Washington Redskins are leading the league. They're leading in rushing yards, they're leading in exciting players (who isn't talking about RGIII?), and they're leading in renewable energy with their installation of solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations at FedEx Field.

NRG at FedExField NRG and Solar Man at FedEx Field (Photo by Clara Pak)

Solar panels are not a new innovation, but they're quickly becoming the hot new trend at football stadiums across the country. The Redskins partnered with NRG Energy, an American energy company based in New Jersey, to bring renewable energy to FedEx Field, and this partnership marked the first professional sports sponsorship to carry the NRG name. With 8,285 solar panels and two megawatts of capacity, FedEx Field is the largest solar power installation in the metropolitan DC area. The fact that the stadium only operates 10 to 11 days a year for game days gave the Redskins a perfect opportunity to repurpose the otherwise idle stadium for environmental and business gains. The solar power system at FedEx Field boasts the ability to sufficiently meet all of the stadium's power needs on non-game days and to meet 25% of the power needs on game days. Based on estimated energy production of 2.5 million kwh/year, by using solar power, the Redskins and NRG are keeping 1,780 metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere. That's = the equivalent of replacing 349 vehicles with gasoline engines with zero emission electric vehicles (based on the greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator).

Inside the empty stadium. Even the seats bleed burgundy and gold! (Photo: Clara Pak)Inside the empty stadium. Even the seats bleed burgundy and gold! (Photo by Clara Pak)

Needless to say, the Redskins have pioneered the way for other NFL teams to bring renewable energy to their stadiums. Since partnering with the Washington Redskins, NRG has teamed up with the New York Giants and New York Jets at MetLife stadium by installing the Solar Ring - solar panels in the shape of an oval lining the top of the stadium. The New England Patriots have also asked NRG to build its solar installation at Patriot Place, which will provide up to 60% of the power at the stadium. The solar panels at FedExField not only generate power for the stadium but also provide covered parking spaces for fans. According to our interview with the Redskins' VP of Marketing, the organization takes pride in bringing awareness and information about the benefits of solar energy to fans via their efforts to make the stadium more green. Another fun fact about the new and improved FedEx Field: the electricity produced by FedExField's solar power system each year is enough to meet the power needs of about 300 homes in the metro DC area. The future indeed looks bright for the Redskins and the DC metro area.

- Clara Pak

Want to see how they did it? Check out this time lapse of construction at FedEx Field:

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