Finley Stadium has long been a part of Chattanooga’s environmental movement: in 2001, TVA built 11 solar panel structures in the then three-year-old stadium’s VIP parking lot. Today, these structures produce 127,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to supply eight or nine typical Tennessee Valley homes – or operate the Finley Stadium field lights for 90 football games. In 2013, Venue Manager Brian Wright spearheaded an effort to reduce energy use throughout the stadium and the First Tennessee Pavilion. Working with EPB, Wright and his team cut energy usage by 31%, saving $41,000 from fiscal year 2013-14 to 2014-15.
As part of the ongoing commitment to reducing its environmental impact, Finley Stadium/First Tennessee Pavilion and partners Chattanooga Mocs Athletics Department, Chattanooga Football Club and Chattanooga Market have launched the Pass It Forward sustainability initiative. “Pass It Forward is focused on making the Finley Stadium Complex a leader in environmentally-friendly best practices, including increasing recycling, reducing hard waste and energy conservation,” explains Wright.
During the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team exhibition game at Finley Stadium, many Chattanoogans may have noticed the containers around the stadium with the Pass It Forward logo. These recycling bins are part of a comprehensive recycling program that Finley Stadium has begun with the help of Republic Services. Over 80 bins have been placed around the campus for aluminum, paper, plastic and cardboard. Containers in the First Tennessee Pavilion are green; framed clear bag containers are inside Finley Stadium.
“We are pretty confident that people attending Chattanooga Mocs games and the Chattanooga Market will help us recycle,” says Wright. “In 2014, Finley disposed of 60 tons of hard waste. This year, we are producing much more just because of the increase in attendance at events on our campus. With Chattanooga’s help – just by putting recyclable materials into the Pass It Forward containers instead of the trash – we hope to recycle at least 15 percent of our total waste instead of sending it to the landfill.”
The program has full support from Finley Stadium Executive Director Paul Smith. “It’s great to work with such a wonderful staff that shows great leadership in areas that are important to our city – like the environment,” he said. “Our environmental initiatives are not only saving us money, they are helping the future of our city.”
Under Pass It Forward, Wright says that Finley will continue to try to reduce electrical consumption by ten percent each year, while still maintaining a high level of service and comfort to patrons. The stadium is also transitioning to more environmentally-friendly materials and supplies, for example it has phased out styrofoam cups, and all beer cups are now biodegradable. And, all leftover food from events is donated to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.