Energy > On-site Renewables Energy

On-site renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, is a way to supply some of the power for your facility while reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Many major companies, educational institutions, and governmental facilities now use some type of on-site renewable energy to provide power to their facilities.

For more detailed information about installing solar at your facility, consult Solar Electric Energy for Your Stadium or Arena, which provides an overview of the installation process, solar system ideas, cost estimates, and federal and state incentive information.

Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for a list of available incentives and rebates in your state.


On-site renewables, such as wind and solar power, are most likely to keep the cost of your electricity stable, improve the fuel diversity of your system, promote your facility’s energy independence, and generate positive publicity by visibly demonstrating a civic commitment to reduce fossil fuel use.

They also offer the potential to feed excess energy that is generated on-site back into the grid (called “net-metering,” which can turn your meter backwards), a potential source of income. In addition, there are incentives available that can reduce the initial capital cost.


Conducting energy audits of your sports facilities can help your institution earn points within the “Energy” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). It can directly contribute to earning 4 points for the credit “OP 9: Clean and Renewable Energy.” Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.


Fossil fuel energy generation – for electricity, transportation, and industrial uses – is the principal cause of air pollution and global warming. By generating electricity from on-site solar or wind energy installations, your department and institution can reduce its demand for fossil fuel energy and also reduce its contributions to smog, acid rain, pollution-related illness, and global warming.


>> In June 2012, Harvard University Athletics completed construction of a 2,275-panel solar photovoltaic system, the university’s largest solar energy project to date, spanning 1.5 acres of roof space atop the Gordon Indoor Track and Tennis building. The project creates approximately 650,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power more than 50 average homes, and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 500 metric tons annually. The solar project cost approximately $2.1 million, with the majority of up-front installation costs covered by a university grant for green infrastructure upgrades. The $80,000 to $85,000 in projected annual savings will pay back the investment within approximately eight years.

“Harvard Athletics is showing that sports and sustainability go hand in hand,” says Heather Henriksen, director of the Harvard Office for Sustainability. “By building Harvard’s largest solar project, the athletics staff are not only producing clean, renewable energy that will help us get one step closer to our goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they are also demonstrating a pragmatic approach to operations that will ultimately reduce costs.”

To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> In 2007, San Diego State University and UC San Diego collaborated to install 5,000 square feet of thermal solar panels atop their co-owned Mission Bay Aquatic Center (MBAC) to heat the facility’s 50-meter pool. The panels cost approximately $100,000 and paid for themselves in energy savings in two years. To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> Arizona State University has installed 10 solar arrays at its sports facilities, more than any other college athletics department in the nation. These sports venues include the Wells Fargo Arena, the Weatherup Basketball Training Center, and the Verde Dickey Dome. Sun Devil Athletics’ latest project is the installation of solar arrays at the Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium, which was completed in September 2013. This system provides the dual function of harnessing solar energy while providing shade for fans as they watch softball games. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> In 2010, the University of Arizona (the UA) built the first university recreation center in the United States to be awarded LEED Platinum certification. This facility is also the first in the nation to use solar energy for both heating the Olympic-size pool and cooling the building’s chiller systems. The 346-vacuum-tube thermal solar collector spans the facility’s roof and produces almost 2 million kilowatt-hours of solar power each year. The solar energy drives an absorption chilling system that helps cool campus buildings. Heat, a by-product of this process, is captured and used to warm the Recreation Center’s 55,000-gallon Olympic-size swimming pool. The thermal solar array provides one-third of the energy needed to heat the pool. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.


>> NASCAR’s Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, PA installed a 25-acre solar farm with a 3-MW system, providing electricity for the entire raceway facility and 1000 homes nearby — between 3 to 4 million kWh per year.  The track’s annual energy bill has been cut by $500,000. This installation, operating since August 2010, is currently the largest solar installation at a major U.S. sports venue and the first that powers a major sports facility entirely by on-site renewable energy. To learn more, read the  full feature  in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> STAPLES Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, and Kings, installed a 1,727 solar panel array in 2008, covering 25,000 square feet of the arena’s roof. The 345.6-kilowatt system supplies 2.5% of the building’s energy use (depending on energy load), producing 525,000 kWh and saving $55,000 each year. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, installed 590 solar panels in three different parts of the facility in 2007. These panels produce up to 122 kilowatts of renewable energy for Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers in San Francisco, the equivalent of about 40 home solar roof systems. As the first Major League Baseball stadium to feature solar power, this installation not only generates renewable energy, but has also provided a very visible showcase in the community of the importance of clean energy and energy conservation. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> Lincoln Financial Field is the first professional facility in the U.S. capable of generating 100 percent of its own electricity onsite with the installation of about 2,500 solar panels, 80 20-foot-high wind turbines, and a generator that runs on natural gas and biodiesel.  Prior to this extensive installation of onsite renewables, the Eagles offset 100 percent of their current energy use through the purchase of 14 million kWh in wind energy credits annually from NativeEnergy, and through an on-site solar energy system at their NovaCare Complex training facility that generates 16,000 kWh per year. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, installed a solar energy system with 46 solar panels in 2007. The 9.8-kilowatt system can provide more than 14,000 kWh of energy, which can sufficiently offset the energy consumption of their LED scoreboard for more than a year, saving $12,000 a year on electric bills. To learn more, read the  full feature  in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> In June 2007, the Cleveland Indians installed a 42-panel solar electric system that generates enough power to run all 400 televisions throughout Progressive Field with 8.4 kilowatts of clean renewable energy (approximately 10,000 kWh/year). To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.


NRDC Solar Electric Energy For Your Stadium or Arena
AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
AASHE STARS 2.0 Technical Manual
EPA Green Power Purchasing Guide
Green Power Locator
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency