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# Cowboys new stadium a reminder of how to waste energy

## 8/18/2009 11:27 AM EDT

"Everything is bigger in Texas" as the slogan goes on a T-shirt in the fan store of the new Dallas Cowboy's stadium. I couldn't think of how true that statement was in relation to the new stadium's carbon footprint. I recently just got back from a family wedding in Dallas, Texas. During our stay, we toured around the new Dallas Cowboy's stadium as my cousin has always been a big fan. The stadium is set to hold 80,000 people with the ability to expand to a 100,000. The structure is beyond big and resembles the alien aircraft in the 1996 film "Independence Day".

We took a guided tour of the facility which needless to say was jaw-dropping and not in a good way. There seemed to be only one goal of this stadium: to break records. Largest this, the most number of that, tallest this, it was flat out disgusting at the enormity of resources that were wasted to make this structure.

During the tour, I raised the question, "How much are the utility bills?" The tour guide giggled and said "I'll get to that in a minute". About 5 minutes later he pulled together the large group to announce what seemed like an accomplishment in his eyes. "The stadium averages roughly \$200,000 in monthly utility bills," he claims. My brain went wild with figures as I tried to translate that into energy terms. Assuming that the electric bill will be the majority of the purchase i.e. air conditioning, lighting, and equipment, the total amount of energy consumed based on Texas's average commercial \$/kWh is 2,036,560 kWh per month, or roughly 24,439,918 kWh per year. To give you some perspective, this is equivalent to the same amount of energy as the city of Santa Monica, CA (Pop. 88,000) uses per year. Why is a stadium that is only used for about 5 hours every other week during the NFL season consuming as much energy as an entire city?

Carl_S

8/18/2009 1:04 PM EDT

I suppose these are valid points, but you have to understand that football stadiums, like most things we spend money on, are inherently frivolous. Why do we even need football? For that matter, why do we need television, MP3 players, cell phones, stereos? In fact, why do we need electronics at all? Because it's my job, that's why. Sorry about all the CO2.

dpowell

8/18/2009 9:33 PM EDT

for the above article the new cowboys stadium is used for much more than five hours per week there are various concerts and conventions there every week in addition to soccer games so it used much more than you could ever imagine

8/19/2009 3:40 PM EDT

Wow,

Sounds like the utility bill is still less than the salary of a "good" player. Ever lived in Texas or met a Texas? They are proud of their heritage and they really do mean it when they say, everything is bigger in Texas!!! In the scheme of life, that stadium is round-off error.

optoeng

8/20/2009 12:24 PM EDT

You can see here that the stadium is only booked for only 17 days worth of events for the entire remainder of 2009:

TexasEngineer

8/20/2009 2:12 PM EDT

I agree that it is enormous, but I believe you have your comparisons completely wrong. Per capita electricity consumption in the US is 12,800kWh each year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_electricity_consumption).

According to your numbers, the 88000 citizens of Santa Monica each consume only 278kWh yearly. Either most Santa Monicans live in caves or they've discoved some way to consume 98% less energy than the average US citizen. Please check your numbers again.

I am by no means on either side of the extreme of the green movement, but I just hope this isn't a case of deliberately trying to distort the facts to sensationalize environmental concerns. Could you instead include some real comparative data? How much energy did the old Texas Stadium require monthly? How much does the typical NFL dome stadium require? I don't know- but maybe the facts will show that this is an environmental success story rather than a disaster.

I have also toured the new stadium. They did highlight that everything is bigger/better at every opportunity. They also highlighted the usage of recycled materials throughout. While there, I couldn't help but think that you could build a helluva wafer fab for its \$1.5 Billion price tag... any guess how much electricity that would consume each month? A typical fab can consume 170,000,000 kWh/year, 7X that of the stadium!

L7ColWinters

8/21/2009 11:19 AM EDT

I completely agree with your viewpoint on the stadium and believe that continuing to neglect the environment will make going to the game much more expensive, which in this economy means going to the game less.

jayfender

8/21/2009 1:25 PM EDT

How is the entire city of Santa Monica using this little electricity? \$200,000 / 88,000 people ~ \$2.27/person right? Maybe electricity costs a little more in CA than TX, but not THAT much more.

IBelieve

8/21/2009 1:34 PM EDT

This article is STUPID! It's summer in Texas. It's 100 degrees outside. You mix 100,000 people with 100 degrees and you don't think you don't need air conditioning? If you use a little common sense, do you thnk the bills will be that high in January? While I don't belive that man is causing global warming, I do believe that we have to be good stewards of our resouces. This is just left leaning tree hugging that belongs back in California.

The stadium is Awesome! From and electrical engieering standpoint, there is a lot of technology embedded in the stadium that will set the standards for stadiums to come. That's what this story should be about. Let's promote technology and use of it to better all of our community, enhance our jobs, and drive innovation.

CTGloobs

8/21/2009 2:19 PM EDT

Yeah but all they eat in Santa Monica is tofu and wheat germ - how much energy does that take?

Just kidding - nice job exposing this excess - the world is bigger than Jerry Jones and he should have some level of corporate responsibility - even if the stadium was likely built on millions of gallons of decayed dinosaurs.

Grainger

8/21/2009 2:24 PM EDT

I am not a fan of the stadium, but that has more to do with the fact the deal Mr. Jones cut with our mayor.
As to the rest of the article, I found it the epitome of environmental political correctness. The word "sustainable," in all its various forms has lost all meaning. Sustainability now has the most subjective of meanings.

DBTI

8/21/2009 2:29 PM EDT

EE TIMES should be ashamed for publishing this poorly researched editorial trash. The author's facts are so far off it's laughable. Santa Monica uses about 9000KWH per capita annually. (see: http://www.smgov.net/Departments/OSE/categories/contentFullPage.aspx?id=5860) Assuming that 88,000 people is accurate, that is 792,000,000 KWH annually for the city. He's only off by 32X. Using the assumption that the \$200,000 per month for "utilities" is only electricty is just another flagrant attempt to mislead the reader and engross the already overblown electricty usage error. Engineers are expected to get their nubmers right and should demand no less of the publications they read. The article needs to be retracted and replaced by one written from an objective perspective. The author clearly has an ax to grind, but he needs to do it on his own time, not in the EE Times.

BigBabarara

8/21/2009 2:47 PM EDT

This is propogada written by a naive "tree-hugger".

r_marshall

8/21/2009 2:57 PM EDT

Wow, does the author know ANYTHING about US Football and/or US Football culture???

Given that this form of entertainment has almost nothing to do with conservation, civic responsibility, or minimalist living, it is ABSURD to be critical here.

Does the author think we should cancel all 4th of July fireworks in the future? We'd sure save a lot of carbon footprint by having all those folks stay at home that night. ;)

And don't get me started on the author's naivete about Texas. I'm sure Jerry Jones got a good chuckle out of this one.

AFC9

8/21/2009 3:49 PM EDT

Owen, firstly, commercial users pay more for electricity so the energy usage is lower than you think. Also, assuming you made a 1,000 mile flight to Dallas, you and your fellow travelers consumed about 55000 kWh of energy. Based on your \$0.10/kWh model, that's equivalent to \$5,500 of electricity for one 5 hour flight, which translates to \$792,000 per month of continuous flying. Then again, maybe you pedaled your mountain bike to Dallas.

NO MO

8/21/2009 5:25 PM EDT

Great another flippin' green weenie...the next great leap in logic will be to apply cap-n-trade and increase the cost of ticket to the game and a beer by 100%!

tweaker

8/21/2009 7:55 PM EDT

The City of Santa Monica 2009-2010 budget
(http://www01.smgov.net/finance/budget/2009-10/AdoptedBudget/08ExpSummaries.pdf) indicates the city has allocated \$1,720,031 for Utilities, (i.e., electricity). At \$200K/mo., the new Cowboy stadium's annual Utility bill is \$2,400,000. I'd say that is roughly a little more than equivalent to the "City of Santa Monica".

gedge

8/21/2009 11:00 PM EDT

Another thing worth including in energy calculations is the fact that this stadium [like many venue's throughout the country] is not limited to /just/ sporting events. Concerts are also held in this stadium. It gets good use even if it's not a game day. I can appreciate the concerns of excess- but you have to remember that this /is/ Texas.

On the technology side- I believe one of the great achievements is the fact that you can have 80,000 teen agers texting eachother at the same time during a concert. THAT IS A MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT- ONE THAT COULD BE WORTH AN ARTICLE ON IT'S OWN just discussing the networking/telcom aspects.

Lou Covey

8/24/2009 11:43 AM EDT

Many people don't understand that Texas has its own energy grid and produces more green energy than any other state in the union. In wind alone, Texas produces enough power for 600,000 homes (or three Santa Monicas) and plans to double that this year. And Texas also leads the nation in solar energy production, biomass production and is 16th in nuclear. You can't measure the carbon footprint of any facility in Texas with the same standards as any place else in the country.

DestroCom

8/24/2009 5:13 PM EDT

Yeah...this engineering "marvel" was so well designed, they didn't take into account the ability of a punter to actually kick the ball upwards. Way to go Dallas.

DBTI

8/24/2009 11:00 PM EDT

Do not confuse the City of Santa Monica's utility budget with the entire city's population utility usage. The author erroneously claims the stadium uses the about the same energy as the 88,000 citizens of Santa Monica. Using the same energy as several office buildings is not so hard to believe, but using the same amount as all 88,000 fails the most basic sanity test.

Semiconductor Design Engineer

8/25/2009 10:32 AM EDT

I thought Texas was succeeding from the Union?

jayfender

8/25/2009 2:30 PM EDT

I wouldn't say Texas is SUCCEEDING from the Union. The Union may in fact be causing less success in Texas. That lack of success is what caused Gov. Perry to bring up the idea of SECEDING from the Union, though I think the idea is a bit risky.

TheOnlyFish

8/26/2009 8:46 AM EDT

First off this was just a negative article from the get go. I dont see a comparison with Texas stadium where the Cowboys used to play or any other stadium for that matter. Typical NY One-Sided Articles

Navyboy

8/26/2009 1:29 PM EDT

Im amazed to read so many angry responses here. The data might be off slightly about kilo watt hours, but I hardly think this was written by a tree huger, and so what if it was? Is there anything wrong with being a little green?
I would say that this stratum is excessive and unnecessary given how infrequently it will be used. Im sure it crated a lot of jobs in the building sector, and that is a good thing in the short term, but as the author points out, why not use more modern lighting technology?
I wonder how much of the tax payers money went into this stratum for a privately owned team?

Semiconductor Design Engineer

8/26/2009 2:01 PM EDT

Hey, I'm not amazed, why it's been proven that engineers typically "...take more extreme conservative and religious positions... (see http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=205920319)" which is why they make good terrorists (see http://www.edn.com/blog/1750000175/post/1030020903.html) :-o!

Also, if you do a simple google on some of the more extreme posters profile, well you will see for example user "NO MO" is actually an engineer for a strip Coal Mining operation in Kentucky for crying out loud. Like he's got a lot of nerve to through stones!

Yep, I don't know how I ever got into engineering, I'm a definite "tree hugger". I'm going to go drive my little Prius on the highway now and run any Ford F110's right of the road, then I'm heading over to the local ACLU office to do volunteer work before me and my kids work on posters for our march to "Save the Whales"!.

sthe18

9/3/2009 10:58 AM EDT

This article doesn't deserve to be the front page on my email newsletter. See all arguments below...

cdansreau

9/3/2009 1:59 PM EDT

Someone mentioned a "deal" with the city. I live near san Diego, CA. As a taxpayer the word deal in asociation with footbabll stadiums is a sore point because one
past mayor really was bad for the taxpayers in this regards. There are only two negative concerns about the new stadium that i fell are relevant.
1. the use of incadesent light is high power, LED or other lighting would have been much cheaper and reliable to maintain.
2. who pays the bills? is it the city as such a bit more design for lower costs might be good to reduce long term costs.

I do hope you guys enjoy the stadium, irregardless.

one mention was made of CA electric costs because of the comparasion to Santa Monica. I cannot comment on Santa Monica electric rates
but can say that san diego gas & electric is not as enlightned as texas generally is is. SDGE tries to use imported power whenever they can (my opnion).
Apparently they have a bookeeper mentality and look at return on investment and if they have no power distribution plant the ROI is wonderful.
this does result in higher electricity cost but they seem to think that they have monopoly.

regards,

Charlie

Kev-bo

9/3/2009 5:04 PM EDT

Hi Lou,

Wondering where you are getting your data.. According to info I've been able to find:

* Texas is definitely no slouch in renewable-based electricity, but is still #2 to California's #1
* Texas is by far the wind energy king
* Unfortunately Texas is also the #1 consumer of electricity despite a significant population disparity with California
* Worse yet, Texas' demand is growing faster than the national average and double the rate of California

At least based on the 2006 DOE figures

http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/electricity.cfm/state=CA#fuel
http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/electricity.cfm/state=TX#fuel

Maybe you have newer info ?

Kev-bo

9/3/2009 5:15 PM EDT

And if you include hydroelectric in renewables and look at 2009 assessment based on 2007 numbers.

* Washington is the reneable electricity winner
* California drops to #2
* Texas drops to #5

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/solar.renewables/page/state_profiles/r_profiles_sum.html

9/4/2009 9:13 AM EDT

It is a sad state of affairs when engineers (if they are in fact engineers) refuse to look at the ingenuity of a new design, and instead, trash it for such irrelevant reasons. Just a few facts for you nuts out there (article author included):
1) No one builds a commercial structure to lose money - either the stadium can make a whole lot of money (i.e. used a lot) or the basis of the utility bills were skewed by the tour guide to exaggerate the grandiose of the structure.
2) Who cares how much energy it uses; we have plenty and can make more - I didn't hear about any brownouts because of the night game a couple weeks ago.
3) Green is the new Red - it doesn't matter how efficient the new stadium is, it is big, commercial, and designed to fit Texas culture; that trumps any positives in the environut mind.

GPBobby

9/8/2009 4:30 AM EDT

For this discussion who cares about the energy use of any city? For that matter, who cares about the energy use of the stadium? It's insignificant whether it's "green" or not. Neglect the 450 million or so contributed by taxpayers toward the 1.15 Billion cost. For now, also neglect the cost of interest. Let's also consider the stadium seats 80 000. The extra 20k seats are apparently not all seats but offer great views of the end zones while standing. OK. Cost per seat constructed: 1.15 x 10^12 / 8 x 10^4 = 14.4 Million per seat. Say the thing is still standing in 50 years. That gives an annual seat cost of 288 000 per year. Let's have 20 events per year: that means each ticket must sell for \$14 400. Go ahead, add on the electric bill: \$1.50.

As they say, follow the money...... . . . Without some kind of hidden subsidy, this abomination will melt under its own weight, with or without the lights on. If you like it, buy tickets and support game sponsors. If you don't, don't.

oglubiak

9/8/2009 9:22 AM EDT

Thank you all for your comments and for taking the time to read the article. While many of you bring up good points, I cannot respond to each and every one of you. I wanted to address a few items which have been brought to my attention since this piece was published. The power consumption of the stadium was calculated by using the Department of Energys Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State see http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html for more details. Texas average commercial price per kWh was \$0.103 at the time of writing the article. The tour guide gave us the figure of \$200,000 per month on utilities but did not break down the costs per source i.e. electric, water, gas, etc. Based on the size of the stadium and the power it would need to both light and cool the whole facility, I assumed the majority of the utility costs would come from electric.

In regards to the comparison of electric consumption by the City of Santa Monica, I used the EPAs Green Power Partners list to match the stadiums electric consumption with another high electric consumer (see http://www.epa.gov/grnpower/toplists/partner100.htm). Under the 100% renewably powered list of partners, I found the City of Santa Monica as a participant and the city consumes roughly 23,000,000 kWh per year. Because the city is listed as 100% renewably powered, I took that as face value and included it in the article. I will admit, I did not do more in depth calculations as jayfender and DBTI question in the article. The reason why I did not do more calculations is because I relied on the EPA to do the dirty work for me. When a city claims that they are 100% renewable powered and a government agency backs them up, I expected them to mean it. I am still in the process of uncovering the criteria to be a city/municipality to be 100% renewably powered. I will be raising this issue with the EPA and posting my results as soon as I hear back from them.

The purpose of this article was to point out the enormity of this project and the environmental claims they are making. I am not questioning whether the project will make money or will fans enjoy the new stadium and gladly pay the additional taxes. What I am deeply concerned about is our continual need in society to build bigger and more. In this instance, I use the sports industry because they are arguably the best example of extravagance and indulgence. I am arguing that the sports industry is on a totally unsustainable path and that it needs to be addressed now. This is what I consider to be the definition of sustainability: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations to meet their own needs." -United Nations definition of Sustainability. Now I am not saying completely halt all activity. I am an economist. We need economic growth as well as environmental and social growth and there is a way to make all three increase at once. We should be interested in long-term sustainable growth and not short term capital gain. In the case of the Dallas Cowboys stadium, I am arguing for better resource management, from the scale of the project and the resources needed to complete it to the operations and the amount of resources that will be needed to run the facility.

I thank you again for all your comments and I look forward to continuing an open dialogue.

uihqw1231423

9/8/2009 8:54 PM EDT

Climate Solutions Advisor??? What's next Supervisor of parking lots & broom closets?

tparty

9/10/2009 11:30 PM EDT

GPBobby, you are off by a factor of 1000! A billion is 10^9, not 10^12. Your estimated cost is trillions, we haven't achieved that cost yet for a stadium...but don't lose hope, maybe we could reach that cost with the next "stimulus" package from Obama and congress, the future John Murtha Stadium in some rural Pennsylvania town. You could dial down the usage numbers also, it would probably get used about as much as the John Murtha airport.

bluto

9/17/2009 12:41 PM EDT

The Republican party politicians deny that global warming exists.
The Democratic party politicians say that global warming is a reality, but they (the Democrats) are not going to do anything about it.
Given this sad political reality, it is likely that energy wasteful buildings like this stadium will continue to be built.

Jonitron

9/17/2009 2:07 PM EDT

All I can say is wow. I hope Owen practices what he preaches and rides his bike to work everyday.
I too really want to keep the earth pristine, so that when the nuclear blasts hit there will be no carbon or trash blowing in the radioactive wind.

to bluto; if you think about it, the earth just may have been warming since the ice age....hmmm. How did that happen without factories and stadiums?

AzStreak

9/30/2009 11:25 AM EDT

I'm not a Republican or Democrat and say the whole global warming, climate change thing or whatever you want to call it today, isn't due to man-made CO2. I'm an engineer and carefully consider hard data over human "tendancies". However, that said, energy conservation and efficiency are still very dearto my heart! Too bad they apparently aren't in "The Heart of Texas!" Thanks for the information... without the CO2... I know... I know...

Duane Benson

2/7/2011 12:18 PM EST

One of the factors that I find interesting about this stadium, as well as all construction projects in general, is the correlation between extravagance and the economy: from sports stadiums, to public works to family homes.

Pick construction from a specific era and look at the relationship between form and function. Are houses built to a minimum practical size, or are there a lot of 3,000 square foot homes for families of four? Do freeway bridges have a lot of non-functional design work added, or are they just basic concrete and steel? Are sports stadiums just big, drab people-holders or are they centers of opulence like this stadium?