The game of hockey depends on ice.
Whether the sport is being played at the professional level in an NHL arena or by kids outdoors on a backyard rink, a clean ice sheet is essential.
Major environmental challenges, such as freshwater scarcity, affect opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game. That’s why the NHL is taking steps to conserve, protect and replenish fresh water. In the lead up to World Water Day on March 22, NHL Green – a League-wide initiative devoted to embedding sustainability into all aspects of the game – continues to illustrate the League’s commitment to the environment.
Ticketmaster: What is the connection between hockey and the environment?
NHL Green: Perhaps more than any other sport, hockey is impacted by environmental issues, particularly climate change and freshwater scarcity. The ability to skate and play hockey outdoors is a critical component of the League’s history and culture.
There are environmental impacts associated with the many facets of League business operations, including energy and water use, waste and travel. Like any other businesses, these operations potentially affect the air we breathe and our supplies of clean, fresh water.
To address these environmental challenges and improve our operations, NHL Green was established in 2010.
Ticketmaster: What should fans know about NHL Green?
NHL Green: The NHL has a large, passionate and engaged fan base. Compared to fans of the other major sports leagues, NHL fans are younger, more educated, and the most tech-savvy. We also know through independent research that our fans, especially our younger fans, care deeply about environmental issues, and they have changed their behaviors to become more sustainable in their daily lives. NHL fans are recycling, buying organic and local foods, purchasing environmentally-responsible products, and donating time and money to environmental causes.
NHL fans are becoming involved in the environmental movement, helping us make a positive impact. We invite our fans to share their efforts with us on social media using #NHLGreen to tell us how they are doing their part, and to share ideas about how we can all lessen our environmental impact.
Ticketmaster: What are the most interesting projects underway at the NHL club and arena level? What might fans notice that’s different at some arenas because of the NHL Green initiative?
NHL Green: Over the past few years, all 30 NHL Clubs have advanced sustainability of their arena operations and made efforts in their communities to preserve the local environment.
Five NHL venues have converted to new sports-arena LED game lights. The brightness of the facilities have increased, yet on average the lights are consuming 60 percent less electricity than old metal halide systems did. Each of the new system’s light fixtures are expected to last longer, reducing replacement costs, labor costs, and waste. In addition, because the lights emit no heat, the facility can reduce air conditioning costs. From a gameplay and entertainment perspective, fans will notice an improvement in arena and on broadcast.
Two NHL arenas have installed on-site solid oxide fuel cell technology. These projects generate as much as 80% of the arena’s base load power and 25% during a game. The power is generated using multiple fuel sources, including natural gas and biogas, and will account for about half of the total power required annually for the arena. On average, each arena expects the technology to offset 2 million pounds of CO2 emissions annually. In addition to fuel cells, a number of arenas have installed on-site solar electricity generation.
The most visible initiative at most NHL arenas involves waste and recycling practices. The optimal waste reduction operation educates and engages maintenance staff and NHL fans through simple procedures and training, clear signage for proper disposal of items throughout the facility, regular updates on the initiative, public goals for improvement, and incentives for participation. As a League, our landfill diversion rate is hovering around 28%. We are taking steps to improve this number and are calling on our fans to help.
Ticketmaster: What’s new with NHL Green this season, and what’s something exciting coming up on the horizon?
NHL Green: We created and produced the 2014 NHL® Sustainability Report – the first of its kind from any North American professional sports league. The report, which is available at nhl.com/green/report, amplifies and coordinates the considerable work that is being done by our Clubs and by our Players, and ensures the work continues to move forward. We also voluntarily put forth our carbon footprint based on building data from all arenas and League offices, estimated at 550,000 metrics tons for the 2014-15 season.
In December, we announced a new partnership with Constellation, a leading energy services provider, as the League’s first partner solely focused on sustainability. Through this partnership, we are making major progress toward three main goals: reducing our environmental impact by working with facilities on operations and capital improvements to advance the efficiency of buildings; counterbalancing our carbon footprint by investing in clean energy, which ranks the NHL as no. 17 on the EPA’s list of green power users in the U.S.; and finally, using our cultural influence and marketing power to inspire environmental progress in our fans, employees, partners, and the supply chain.
Specific to our efforts in water conservation and restoration, the NHL Stadium Series™ outdoor game in Santa Clara, CA at Levi’s® Stadium used recycled water for the 20,000 gallons needed to build the ice. Through a partnership with Bonneville Environmental Foundation over the past few years, the League has replenished more than 30 million gallons of water to dewatered rivers in North America. The League also engaged in BEF’s Change the Course initiative, asking our employees and business partners to pledge to conserve water during their hotel stay, and for each person that did so an additional 1,000 gallons was restored.
NHL Green is committed to promoting more sustainable business practices with member clubs, fans, partners, and employees. To stay up-to-date on the latest initiatives, and to learn more about how to get involved, please visit NHL.com/Green.
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