Smarter Business: Greening the Games
Professional sports team up with NRDC to reduce their environmental impact.
National Hockey League
Most of our players learned to skate on outdoor rinks. For that magnificent tradition to continue through future generations we need winter weather -- and, as a league, we are uniquely positioned to promote that message. We are thrilled to be able to work with the NRDC and to draw upon its vast experience and expertise in greening League events and League and Club operations." – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
The National Hockey League has been working with NRDC on sustainability initiatives since 2008, when NRDC assembled NHL Greening Advisors for each team in the League. The Greening Advisor for the NHL is a web-based resource customized for each team that offers environmental guidance and strategies to promote more sustainable practices for NHL team and arena operations.
On January 1, 2010, the NHL formally launched “NHL Green” – announcing an effort to enhance the League’s ecological profile, with support from NRDC, while educating fans about environmental issues. The League simultaneously launched an NHL Green website which features a news reel highlighting current League and team greening efforts, environmental information, and green tips for fans. NHL Green works as an advisor to Clubs and facilities, encouraging efficient and cost-effective environmental practices.
In July of 2011, the League officially launched NHL Metrics, an online data collection system which tracks the energy, water and waste use of each NHL arena. As part of this process, the NHL has assembled a committee of Club Sustainability Representatives to report facility data, share information about current practices, and implement new League initiatives. Data provided through NHL Metrics will be used to develop annual sustainability reports, analyzing the environmental progress of each Club and the League as a whole.
The NHL and NRDC have also distributed a comprehensive solar panel installation guide to all NHL team presidents and arena operators with a cover letter from Commissioner Bettman, urging teams to consider installing solar systems and encouraging the wider use of renewable energy. The Solar Electric Energy for Your Stadium or Arena guide, co-authored by NRDC and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, provides detailed information and guidance about the financing of solar panels, the installation process including physical requirements, costs, available funding and state-by-state incentives, and drafting of proposals for vendors to respond to. The distribution of this solar development guide continues to generate interest among NHL teams and arenas, and with major media outlets nationally, including the appearance of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on CNN (with NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz) promoting the solar report. Commissioner Bettman showed the CNN segment at the NHL Board of Governors meeting of all team owners to promote the adoption of renewable energy by all teams.
Starting in the 2010-11 season, the NHL established a league-wide initiative to work with Rock and Wrap it Up! to donate excess prepared food. All 30 NHL teams committed to pack up all prepared but unsold concession food on game nights for redistribution to local shelters and places that serve people in need. Over the course of the initiative's first full season, NHL Clubs provided 163,000 meals to people in need and diverted 105 tons of food from landfills and incinerators across North America. This effort earned each of NHL’s four Midwestern Clubs the U.S. EPA Region 5’s Environmental Quality Award for their participation in the agency’s WasteWise Food Recovery Challenge. Four NHL Clubs in EPA Region 2 won the EPA Environmental Quality Award, and the Boston Bruins received EPA Region 1’s Environmental Merit Award-- all for their food diversion work with Rock and Wrap it Up!.
In July 2011, the NHL was named to the Official Shortlist for the 2011 Beyond Sport Awards as a finalist in both the Sport for Environment and Federation of the Year categories for its work in sustainability.
TEAM INITIATIVES: Read More↓
Here is a brief sampling of the efforts being taken by teams:
The Los Angeles Kings at the STAPLES Center
In 2008 NRDC arranged an energy efficiency and water audit at the STAPLES Center to identify opportunities for further efficiency enhancements. As a result, the arena has made a number of comprehensive energy improvements. One of the biggest projects included the installation of a 1,727 solar panel array, covering 25,000 square feet of the arena’s roof—the biggest solar installation at any U.S. professional sports arena to date. The 345.6 kilowatt system supplies 5-10% of the building’s energy use (depending on energy load) and produces 525,000 kWh annually. Also thanks to the audit, the STAPLES Center has replaced all 176 urinals with waterless urinals—for total annual savings of over 7 million gallons of water and about $28,200 in direct water costs.
Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre
The Montreal Canadiens launched their The Goal is Green! program in back in 2007, aiming to improve team and arena operations and reduce environmental impacts. Along the way, the Bell Centre received LEED certification for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance in 2009, with equipment retrofits that made the venue 35% more energy-efficient than similar facilities throughout North America. Other improvements which earned them LEED certification included:
- Installing water efficient toilets and faucets which reduced water use by 20%;
- A waste diversion rate of 85% for recycling and composting;
- A purchasing policy requiring that 80% of Bell Centre purchases are recycled, re-used, or locally sourced materials; and
- Reducing carbon emissions by 28%.
The Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center
Consol Energy Center, certified LEED Gold for New Construction in 2010, is the first NHL new construction to receive LEED Gold certification. The project received high marks for water use reduction, recycled materials, regional materials, demolition and construction waste diversion, certified wood and energy efficiency. Green features include:
- Locally procured construction materials;
- Efficient lighting and HVAC retrofits and maximized natural lighting;
- Increased green space around the outside of the building;
- Low-flow and water efficient plumbing fixtures;
- Enhanced thermal performance and reduced solar gain; and
- The purchase of renewable energy for a portion of energy use.
LEAGUE EVENTS: Read More↓
The NHL has also worked with NRDC to incorporate green practices and procurement into league events, including the 2010 NHL Draft, the 2011 Winter Classic, the 2011 All Star Game, and the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
The 2010 NHL Draft was held in Los Angeles at the STAPLES Center, which boasts many sustainable features such as solar panels, waterless urinals, and a robust recycling program. Additional efforts included:
- Purchasing Green-e certified carbon offsets for all venue energy use;
- Reducing transportation needs to the venue by hosting the majority of NHL personnel at hotels within walking distance from the STAPLES Center;
- Eliminating most paper collateral from the event by making Media Guides and Year-end Review packets available online only; and
- Printing tickets on recycled stock.
The 2011 Winter Classic, held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, included a variety of greening efforts, such as:
- Purchasing Green-e certified carbon offsets for stadium energy use;
- Eliminating single-use plastic bags and replacing them with 40,000 free reusable commemorative bags available at merchandise stands;
- Recycling all cardboard, bottles, and cans inside the stadium;
- Coordinating the pickup and distribution of prepared but unsold concession food as part of the Rock and Wrap It Up initiative (where Pittsburgh Penguins lead all clubs with 12,000 pounds of food donated as of December 2010);
- Installing recycling receptacles next to each trash can on streets surrounding Heinz Field to combat the usual amounts of game-day litter and offer an option for recycling (now a season-long initiative);
- Collecting recyclables at tailgating parties; and
- Offering free public transit passes by the Port Authority of Allegheny County (paid for by sponsor Pepsi MAX) to fans traveling to the game.
Additionally, the Winter Classic’s location in Pittsburgh helped draw attention to the Consol Energy Center—the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins—the first NHL arena to achieve LEED Gold certification.
The 2011 All Star Game held at RBC Center in Raleigh included similar efforts, including:
- Purchasing carbon offsets for energy use at the stadium;
- Eliminating single-use plastic bags and replacing them with free reusable commemorative bags at merchandise stands;
- Robust recycling programs both inside and outside the stadium, including tailgate recycling;
- Donating unused prepared food to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle;
- The headquarters hotel, Raleigh Marriott City Center, donated unused toiletries, boxed lunches, packaged food and clothing to Raleigh Rescue Mission; and
- An All-Star Open Street Fair before the All Star Game where corporate sponsors Honda and North Carolina State University hosted sustainability booths and educated fans about their recent efforts to go green.
At the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the League launched NHL Water Restoration Project, a water balancing commitment that would restore the equivalent amount of water used during the series at TD Garden and Rogers Arena. As a result, the League restored over one million gallons of water to a critically dewatered Oregon stream, through Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s Water Restoration Certificates.
NRDC is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization.
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