While Tom Brady and Bill Belichick look to add to their Super Bowl legacy, the city of Houston is working to create a legacy of its own.

And it is doing so with a certain shade of “green”.

In an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the Super Bowl and associated activities, the NFL and the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee teamed up and developed a series of green initiatives.

Green energy, food recovery, material recovery and urban forestry were all accounted for. Verizon and additional community partners, including Trees For Houston, all pitched in.

Trees For Houston, a non-profit organization, has been planting, protecting and promoting trees throughout the Greater Houston Area since 1983. During that time, over 500,000 trees have been planted at churches, parks, schools and many other locations across the city.


Trees For Houston and Marathon Oil helped plant 50 new trees at Crespo Elementary last September. (Photo courtesy of Trees For Houston)

TreesForHouston_logo“We were contacted by the NFL. They liked our mission and asked if we could help them pick out some projects that would be good candidates to receive funding.”

Blair Moon I Director of Events and Marketing at Trees For Houston

The green initiatives officially kicked off last summer with a tree planting at KIPP Intrepid in Houston.

From there, Trees For Houston has held plantings at MacGregor Park and Memorial Park. The nonprofit even donated 400 trees for the revitalization of Broadway Street, which serves as a gateway for visitors flying through Hobby Airport.

TreesForHouston_logo“It’s been busy, but it’s been really fun. We welcome the responsibility; it heightens awareness and furthers our mission. The buzz is here, everyone’s excited and hopefully we leave a good impression.”

Blair Moon I Director of Events and Marketing at Trees For Houston

Much like the impression left on Barry Ward, executive director at Trees For Houston.

TreesForHouston_logo“The NFL, Verizon and the host committee really get it. Even if they never came here again for the Super Bowl, all of the planting[s] they put in are going to be here in another generation. Kudos to the NFL.”

Barry Ward I Executive Director at Trees For Houston

That includes Jack Groh, Director of the NFL Environmental Program. Groh is responsible for launching the Super Bowl Environmental Program, which currently has five initiatives:

  • Solid waste management.
  • Material reuse.
  • Food recovery.
  • Sport equipment and book donations.
  • Greenhouse gas reduction.

TreesForHouston_logo“He is as good as it gets. He’s professional, he’s dependable and he’s adaptable to his audience and his resources at any given time. It was an absolute pleasure working with him and his team.”

Barry Ward I Executive Director at Trees For Houston

As it is a pleasure working with the many volunteers, whom Ward said are “absolutely critical” and regularly save the organization $100,000 to $150,000 a year.

Of course, tree planting wasn’t the only green initiative to take place ahead of Super Bowl LI. Other environmental projects included the greening of the stadium itself.

Houston_Super_BowlReliant Energy has upgraded NRG Stadium into a sustainable stadium with new LED lights, reducing its energy use by 60 percent. Reliant also added solar panels above bridges and above the Bud Light Plaza.

From a food perspective, extra prepared food from various Super Bowl LI events will be recovered by the Houston Food Bank and local nonprofits and provided for missions, shelters, soup kitchens and other community programs.

The week following the Super Bowl, recovery of all event materials will commence. Building materials, décor, fabric, carpeting and other various items will be collected and donated to local organizations so that it can be reused, repurposed or manufactured.


From left to right: Joe Turner, Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Barry Ward, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council Member David Robinson at a tree planting at Memorial Park in Houston. (Photo courtesy of Trees For Houston)

Each year the Super Bowl committee achieves more sustainable games each year. In fact, the NFL has been incorporating environmental projects just like these into the Super Bowl for more than 20 years.

And while sustainability in sports is growing in popularity every year in arenas, ballparks and stadiums across the country, it doesn’t mean you can’t do the same.

You too can follow in the Super Bowl’s footsteps and mirror the NFL’s initiatives by:

  • Getting involved with local green groups.
  • Using energy-efficient lighting in your home.
  • Donating food, clothing, books and sports equipment.

From making energy-efficient updates to your home to volunteering at a sustainable organization, there are many ways for you to go green in 2017.

How do you plan to go green this year? Let us know in the comments section below.