The ‘Greenest’ College Football Stadiums in the Country

UNT football stadium

It couldn’t be more appropriate that the University of North Texas football team goes by the name Mean Green.

In 2011, the University of North Texas’ 31,000-seat Apogee Stadium became the first college football stadium in the U.S. to earn LEED Platinum certification for new construction. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), overseen by the United States Green Building Council, is the country’s top program recognizing the design, construction and operation of high-performance “green” buildings. Platinum is LEED’s highest certification level.

“This is a great accomplishment for UNT and strongly underscores our commitment to sustainability,” says V. Lane Rawlins, the university’s president emeritus. “UNT is a leader in environmental research and sustainability, and the fact that we have the first LEED Platinum football stadium is an example of our commitment and our plans for the future.”

UNT stadium

Apogee Stadium at the University of North Texas

What makes the home of the Mean Green football team so green? Here are just four of the eco-friendly highlights:

  • More than half of the stadium site is preserved or restored with landscaping that’s native to North Texas.
  • The stadium design relies on energy-efficient heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and lighting equipment, reducing energy consumption by 25 percent.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures — such as sinks, toilets and showers – reduce water consumption by more than 50 percent.
  • Three-fourths of construction waste was recycled by the contractor and kept from being dumped in a landfill.

Greg Whittemore, a LEED project manager with architecture firm HKS’ Sports & Entertainment Group, which designed the $78 million Apogee Stadium, says: “A football stadium is not the typical LEED Platinum candidate. It took creative thinking on the parts of the design and construction teams in conjunction with the UNT System and North Texas Athletics. Today, the Apogee Stadium’s LEED Platinum status is a testament to the team’s dedication to sustainability.”

Here’s our ranking of the greenest college football stadiums in the U.S.

1. Apogee Stadium

UNT stadium wind turbines

University of North Texas
Denton, TX

LEED certification: Platinum (new construction)
Year opened: 2011
Noteworthy: Of the materials used to build the stadium, 20 percent were made with recycled content and more than 47 percent were made locally.
What the United States Green Building Council says: “The stadium’s energy efficiency initiatives are one-of-a-kind — a pivotal component of the stadium’s design was three community-scale wind turbines that provide wind energy to the stadium.”

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2. California Memorial Stadium

Cal Berkeley stadium

University of California
Berkeley, CA

LEED certification: Gold (renovation)
Year reopened: 2012
Noteworthy: The 72,000-seat stadium, built in 1923 as a memorial to the fallen heroes of World War I, underwent a $321 million renovation.
What the United States Green Building Council says:California Memorial Stadium is a landmark example of adaptive reuse.” The stadium was updated and earthquake-retrofitted while maintaining its historic look.

3. TCF Bank Stadium

University of Minnesota stadium

University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

LEED certification: Silver (new construction)
Year opened: 2009
Noteworthy: TCF Bank Stadium was the first LEED-certified collegiate or professional football facility in the U.S.
What the United States Green Building Council says: “On the site for a former brownfield development, the new 50,805-seat stadium is an industry leader in sustainability. Features include a stormwater management system that allows rainwater to be captured, harvested, filtered and drained into the Mississippi River.”

4. Amon G. Carter Stadium

Amon G. Carter Stadium

Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, TX

LEED certification: Silver (reconstruction)
Year reopened: 2012
Noteworthy: The 45,000-seat stadium underwent a $164 million makeover, including numerous energy-saving improvements related to lighting.
What the United States Green Building Council says: “The … stadium became the 10th building on the TCU campus to achieve LEED certification, highlighting the university’s leadership in green building and long-term commitment to sustainability.”

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John Egan

John Egan is the former editor in chief of Now, he is a freelance writer extraordinaire. He lives in Austin, Texas.