The Surprising Ways Entertainment Venues Keep It Green

Photo by Architect of the Capitol, U.S. Congress / CC0 1.0

Energy is consumed where people gather. This little nugget shouldn’t come as a shocking revelation. You already knew it. Just think of the energy costs and carbon emissions racked up by your family in your home. Don’t worry: You’re not alone if the first response popping into your head is something like yikes!

Now, are you ready to have your mind blown? Take your family’s energy consumption and multiply it by 100. Multiply it by 1,000. Heck, multiply it by 10,000 or more!

This rather frightening but useful little exercise gives you an idea of the energy needs to service large entertainment venues during peak capacity. Yes, Houston, we have a problem.

Fortunately, facilities from movie theaters to sports stadiums and even casinos have diligently reduced their carbon footprints. Sometimes, in quite creative ways.

Let’s take a closer look at a few entertainment venues with a scheme to go green.

Movie Theaters

Fun at the movie theater begins when the lights go down, and the opening credits roll. How much energy do they use when the place is dark? Quite a bit. Just add up the electricity that powers projectors, makes the popcorn and keeps the neon buzzing in the lobby.

The Fairfax Theater in suburban San Francisco, California, was an early adopter in the sustainability movement as far as entertainment venues go. The cinema house installed a 42-unit solar power panel system way back in 2008. At the time, Fairfax Theater management expected the initiative to save $627,000 in energy costs over 30 years and eliminate 1,000 tons of greenhouse gases.

In Mount Prospect, Illinois, the AMC Randhurst 12 went eco-friendly with an architectural twist. The theater’s roof displays a white membrane designed to reflect unwanted heat. That has led to a commendable reduction in interior energy consumption.

The AMC CLASSIC Majestic-12 Cinema in Chattanooga, Tennessee, threw the kitchen sink at its sustainability initiatives. In fact, this modern 12-plex is the first Gold LEED certified theater in the country for adhering to strict, environmentally friendly criteria.

Here, special light fixtures cut down on consumption. Much of the facility’s lighting is also motion activated, so it only comes on when people are present. A sophisticated water reclamation mechanism catches water on the roof, then used for flushing toilets and landscaping. Plus, the front of the theater is mostly glass, allowing in an enormous amount of light. In all, the AMC CLASSIC Majestic-12 cinema has seen a 75 percent drop in annual energy costs.


The city of Las Vegas, Nevada, serves as a case study in sustainability gone right. Everyone knows tourism and casinos fuel the Vegas economy, and with 42 million annual visitors pouring into Sin City, you bet the energy bill is massive.

Leaders from the Vegas city government and casino sectors have gone all-in on large-scale sustainability measures, starting with a regional water reclamation program that has shaved 37 percent off the city’s per-capita water consumption over the last decade.

Vegas casinos get in on the action by packing their roofs with solar panels, installing public green spaces and employing extensive recycling programs.

The recent wave of legalized sports betting in states across the country poses an interesting way for casinos to further sustainability. Thanks to online and mobile delivery, sports bettors don’t have to physically travel to casinos when they want to place a wager. Instead, apps like FOX Bet make the sports betting experience like online shopping — bets and payouts transact digitally. This way, both casinos and bettors save on energy by eliminating quick in-and-out runs to the sportsbook counter.

Sports Stadiums

Stadiums in the U.S. are monolithic beasts where tens of thousands congregate for a few hours on game days. Such huge venues can reap a ton of benefits from green practices. However, the big challenge for eco-minded stadiums is to leverage sustainability at scale without compromising the fan experience.

Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Photo by Betp / CC BY-SA 3.0

Still, the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, managed to obtain a LEED Gold certification in 2018. The Eagles home base boasts an on-premise solar and wind installation with 14 wind turbines and 11,108 solar panels.

The stadium’s green energy production cranks out 4 megawatts of energy annually. That’s enough to cover a third of the stadium’s total yearly energy consumption and at least six times what’s used to power the Eagle’s home schedule for the season.

Even one seemingly small move can make a giant impact. Just consider the scoreboard at T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field), the Mariners ballpark in Seattle, Washington. Indeed, exchanging the scoreboard’s old-school, power-sucking light bulbs for efficient LEDs saves the stadium around $50,000 in electricity costs each year.

These are only a few highlights showing how entertainment venues keep carbon footprints in check. The array of venues going green demonstrates how we’re all in this together, regardless of where we catch our thrills. Take a closer look around the next time you head out to a movie, casino or game. What sustainability measures can you spot?