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
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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.



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