Property & Buildings

Levi’s Stadium Scores Touchdown in Sporting Venue Sustainability

Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California was not only the site of Sunday’s Super Bowl, but it’s also one of the most sustainable sporting venues in the U.S.

The $1.3 billion home of the San Francisco 49ers is an open-air, state-of-the-art stadium with the capacity to seat up to 77,000 spectators – expandable to 83,500 seats – and features an interior floor with more than 1.9 million square feet.

Levi's stadium, scores touchdown, sporting venue sustainability


Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California is currently the only professional football stadium to achieve LEED Gold certification.

But what sets it apart from other sports stadiums are features like the venue’s solar panels, LED lighting, water reclamation system and numerous other green features.

WSP USA’s buildings sector was an integral member of the design-build team, responsible for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection; sustainability; and sports lighting. Levi’s Stadium is currently the only professional football stadium to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Innovations designed by WSP included:

  • an HVAC system that, instead of standard refrigerants, uses materials that minimize compounds that contribute to ozone depletion;
  • installation of permanent monitoring systems that provide feedback on ventilation system performance;
  • use of recycled water for landscape irrigation, toilets and urinals along with water-conserving fixtures; and
  • use of controllable and programmable lighting control systems and thermal comfort control systems.

Key high-performance sustainable features designed by the buildings sector included three solar-paneled pedestrian bridges and one solar-paneled roof deck, which collects enough energy to power it for all 10 home games; and a 27,000-square-foot “green roof” located on top of the stadium’s suite tower.

Sports Highlights

In addition to Levi’s Stadium, WSP has been a key member of several teams designing and building sports venues across the U.S. Some of the firm’s previous or current projects include:

Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia (HOK, architect) – This stadium, targeting LEED Platinum, will open in 2017. Sustainable features include natural ventilation and storm water capture and reuse. Additionally, the firm is providing building technology systems (BTS) design for the stadium’s 360-degree scoreboard and smart technology that provides interaction between the team and fans.

Arthur Ashe Stadium, New York, New York (Rossetti Architects) – WSP provided MEP and structural design for this project nearly 20 years ago. Today, our structural team is working with Rossetti to design a new retractable roof that will be in place for the 2016 U.S. Open.

Barclays Center, sporting venue sustainability


Barclays Center is home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and is LEED Silver certified.

Barclays Center, New York, NY (AECOM, architect) – This 18,000-seat arena is home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Sustainable features include demand controlled ventilation, underground storm water storage tanks, waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures. It is LEED Silver certified.

Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (NBBJ, architect) – Opened to the public in 2003, this stadium is an early example of the implementation of many sustainable features seen in more recent stadiums. WSP provided MEP/FP engineering, BTS design and architectural lighting design on the project.

Check out the WSP “Sports and Leisure” page for more information about our sports venue projects.


Completed on schedule in 2014, Levi’s Stadium was designed by HNTB Architecture for the Santa Clara Stadium Authority as a multi-purpose venue.

The stadium provides 68,500 regular seats, 8,500 club seats, and 165 luxury suites spread across two levels, as well as typical fan amenities, concessions and food service options including a fine dining restaurant and bar, restrooms, the 49ers Hall of Fame Museum and the 49ers team store.

It also features day-of-game team facilities, stadium and team administration offices, related back-of-house areas, and other areas and functions commonly found in National Football League stadium venues.

Sports Illustrated

Prior to the big game on Feb. 7, Sports Illustrated posted a feature article on its website,, highlighting many of the innovative sustainability aspects of the stadium, and the firm’s role in making it all possible.

“Sustainability is definitely gaining strength, gaining steam,” said David Cooper, president of the buildings sector in the U.S., Central and South America, in the Sports Illustrated article. “We are seeing it across multiple sectors, sports as well, as an attractive point, a selling point.”

Cooper said in the article that the team reduced its cost by switching to LED lighting for all areas during construction.

“LED technology is becoming very prevalent in sports stadiums and the technology and price point evolved to make it worthwhile,” he told “It is a combination of [sustainable] desire and economic pragmatism.”


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