The NHL® understands its responsibility as a premiere professional sports league to help manage and raise awareness of global environmental challenges. In truth, the NHL® has a vested interest in addressing sustainability issues. As a business, the league relies on freshwater to make its ice, on energy to fuel operations, and on healthy, environmentally secure communities for its athletes and fans to live, work and play. Moreover, to continue staging world class outdoor hockey events like the NHL® Winter Classic and NHL Heritage ClassicTM and NHL Stadium SeriesTM, the league needs winter weather.
With this in mind, in 2010, the League launched NHL Green, a comprehensive sustainability initiative aimed at addressing the effects of climate change and freshwater scarcity on the game of hockey. The initiative has five goals: tracking impacts; reducing energy, waste and water; offsetting impacts; supporting environmental programs; and inspiring environmental action among fans and partners. Taken together, these goals provide a concrete framework to guide operational improvement.
Over time, with assistance from reputable organizations like the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Protection Agency, NHL GreenTM grew into the most robust sustainability program in pro sports. In 2014, the NHL became the first and only professional sports league in North America to issue a sustainability report, documenting and disclosing its carbon footprint.
To propel NHL GreenTM even further and meet NHL® sustainability goals, the league teamed up with Constellation, its preferred energy partner, through which it purchases both Green-e Energy Certified RECs — to match all NHL games and premier events with energy generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources — and Green-e Climate certified carbon offsets — to match the estimated amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from certain league activities like waste-to-landfill air travel. Constellation has also recommended energy management strategies for special events and conducted energy efficiency analyses at league arenas.
This growing commitment to renewable energy and resource productivity reflects the collective belief of the NHL® and Constellation in the benefits of sustainable business strategies. Towards this end, the efforts in this groundbreaking partnership have served several important functions. First, they help the NHL® to meet voluntary renewable energy goals. Second, they position the NHL-Constellation affiliation as a paradigm for responsible environmental collaboration in professional sports. And third, they demonstrate that the league is practicing what it preaches: just as it encourages fans and partners to be mindful of their ecological impacts, its awareness of its own footprint inspires its desire to lower its ecological impact.
The NHL® has also collaborated with the Green Sports Alliance, an organization comprised of over 300 professional and collegiate sports teams in 20 different sports leagues devoted to promoting healthy, sustainable communities. The Green Sports Alliance was formed in 2011 in conjunction with the NRDC and the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks was one of the founding teams. The nonprofit provides its members with strategies and best practices for sustainability in a variety of areas, from renewable energy and healthy food to water efficiency and safer chemicals.
It didn’t take long for the efforts of NHL GreenTM to be recognized by reputable organizations. In 2014, league commissioner Gary Bettman received the Green Sports Alliance Environmental Leadership Award for his work in creating NHL GreenTM and for promoting sustainability practices across the league. The award was announced in conjunction with the release of the NHL® sustainability report. Last year, the NHL® was honored by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for engaging millions of hockey fans, global businesses and local communities in sustainable action. More recently, the NHL® was ranked 20th on the EPA’s National Top 100 list of largest users of green power in the United States and received the 2015 Green Power Leadership Award from the EPA for its leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market.
But the NHL® and Constellation are not alone in advancing sustainability. There are 68 million NHL fans, many of whom are committed to sustainable living. Though there is no clear definition or metric of what it means to be a “green fan,” research shows that the league’s fans tend to fall on the spectrum between daily recycler and tenured environmentalist. This not only means that NHL fans, relative to those of other sports, more likely practice environmentally friendly behaviors, but it suggests that they will internalize league efforts to raise awareness of critical sustainability issues.
Now that’s a win for everyone!
Share how the NHL® and its fans are working toward a better world with the embed code to our NHL® infographic:
NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and NHL Green name and logo, the NHL Winter Classic logo, NHL Heritage Classic name and logo and NHL Stadium Series name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. © NHL 2016. All Rights Reserved.