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What AEG Must Do To Build World's Greenest Stadium

Paresh Dave |
September 27, 2011 | 11:15 a.m. PDT

Editor-In-Chief

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Tuesday morning Senate Bill 292, protecting AEG's Farmers Field project from a long legal battle over environmental rules in exchange for AEG delivering a stadium that sets a new bar for stadiums looking to be environmentally sustainable.

“Today, I say is a time for big ideas and big projects," Brown said at a bill signing ceremony outside the L.A. Convention Center. "This is how we get people working."

The project to house an NFL stadium between the convention center and the existing L.A. Live complex by 2016 remains contingent on AEG and the City of Los Angeles attracting an NFL team back to L.A.

But if and when that does happen, state law now requires that AEG take measures to ensure 10 percent more fans travel to football games by public transit than at any other NFL stadium in the country and that all carbon emissions related to the stadium are offset by greening measures or the purchase of carbon credits.

“While Washington struggles, this package of laws illuminates a different path,” said California Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

SB 292 is included in a package with AB 900, which ports the same concept of expedited judicial to a broader range of large projects. State officials see the two laws as pilot projects that could be applied to more construction intiatives in the future.

No one knows exactly what bar AEG has to beat because comprehensive measurements are still being taken by environmental groups. AEG also would pay the city to make sure it is reaching the standards now set in state law.

In the meantime, stadium expert Dr. Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council walked us through some the general "greening" issues AEG will need to consider as it prepares an environmental impact report for the stadium. The preliminary report is expected in January.

ENERGY

Kaohsiung Stadium in Taiwan (below) derives somewhere between three-fourths and all of its power from nearly 9,000 solar panels installed on its exterior. Farmers Field won’t reach that threshold, but drawing more renewable energy than any other American stadium is within reach.

WASTE

Safeco Fied in Seattle recycles more than half of its waste and produces compost from its waste. AT&T Park in San Francisco is said to recycle about 75 percent to 80 percent of its waste. Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia sees similar numbers in waste diversion, and the stadium earns high energy marks as well.

WATER

AEG’s already set the standard with the Staples Center, according to Hershkowitz. The U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix is up there as well.

PUBLIC TRANSIT

Here, stadium planning experts have taken a look at stadiums in areas where public transit would naturally be high such as New York and Boston. Both Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park attract nearly half of their fans through public transit, according to readily available estimates.

Among NFL stadiums, anecdotel evidence suggests Qwest Field in Seattle sits somewhere near the top with about a third of its patrons arriving by mass transit.

At the Super Bowl this past year in Dallas, the NFL used buses to bring some fans to the game. As a result, about 31,000 of the 103,000 fans in attendance arrived by mass transit.

“The thing about Farmers Field is that it offers an opportunity for a stadium to be located near some public transit and the developers are (agreeing) to offset emissions from all vehicles coming to the facility and from its operations,” Hershkowitz said.

As of now, AEG is projecting that more than 81 percent of fans would arrive by car on NFL Sundays.

Public transit usage also is considered by state officials as the most crucial greening measure because air quality emissions and traffic are the biggest environmental challenges in L.A. Again, pushing high public transit usage standards in exchange for a guaranteed legal timeline is seen as a potential model for future projects if AEG, lawmakers and the state's Judicial Council agree down the line that it worked with Farmers Field.

LOCAL/ORGANIC FOOD

Data is still being collected in working with the NFL. Same goes for paper procurement and paper waste.

In terms of establishing solid rankings for all of the categories, Hershkowitz said, "The process is beginning."

At the signing ceremony, AEG president and chief executive officer Tim Leiweke praised lawmakers and pledged to make the project work.

“I know some remain suspect," he said. "But we now plow ahead.”

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