NHL Green Week Highlights Initiatives To Reduce Hockey’s Carbon Footprint

NHL Green, a movement within the league that was officially implemented as structured initiative in 2010, is getting sticktaps all week at NHL.com. From March 12 through 18, NHL’s main page is celebrating Green Week by posting daily tips for living light on the planet as well as accolades to the program’s past successes and what fans can look forward to seeing from participating teams and players.

The move to a greener, cleaner league is not just a lot of talk and a few token recycling bins. For the past half-decade, the NHL has been a leader in making their sport a sustainable part of communities all over North America. Their efforts have led to a number of programs focusing on cutting down waste, water conservation, and switching to more sustainable energy sources. In October of 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency named the NHL a Green Partner of the Year.

The precis to the NHL’s Sustainability Report expressed not only the importance of NHL Green as a way to give back to the communities that support the league, but the deeper truth of the NHL’s obligation to honor the roots of a sport that is so deeply connected to the natural environment that inspired its creation.

“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. Many of the NHL’s players, both past and present, learned to skate outside on frozen lakes, ponds and backyard rinks. The game of hockey is adversely affected if this opportunity becomes unavailable to future generations.”

Among the the program’s milestones are the six arenas who have made the change to LED lighting. Bridgestone Arena is the latest NHL venue to convert from conventional halide lighting to LED units. The light emitting diode (LED) fixtures will offer the Nashville club savings in terms of hardware and energy. According to a report by Thomas Willis of NashvillePredators.com, lighting a game in previous seasons required the use of 247 energy-hogging halide fixtures. During the current season, Predators fans in the house have enjoyed better light, and fans watching at home benefit from a truer color temperature and a sharper look at the play on the ice with the more efficient 118 LED lights that replaced the halide fixtures. The change makes financial sense, as well. LED lights use 25 to 50 percent less energy than their conventional counterparts. The Predators join five other clubs who have adopted LED technology in their barns: the Carolina Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Los Angeles Kings, and the Ottawa Senators.

NHL Green’s website also marks the success of their water conservation program. The NHL’s Gallons For Goals program promises to restore 1,000 gallons of to rivers that have depleted by environmental changes or overuse for every goal scored during the regular season. Since the program’s beginning in 2012, there have been 5,492 goals scored, leading to the restoration of 5,492,000 gallons of water.

Some of the recent moves by clubs to newer venues have been marked by a focus on creating more sustainable ways to keep hockey alive at a time when climate change threatens the sport from the bones out. Barclays Center, the new home of the New York Islanders in Brooklyn, New York, is LEED certified, and planners of the Edmonton Oilers’ new facility is keeping things like natural lighting and alternative energy in mind for their new arena.

NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, has been a cheerleader for the program from the beginning. In an official statement NHL Green’s website, he stressed the importance of reducing the league’s carbon footprint.

“Environmental sustainability is important to the NHL and we are proud to be recognized for our efforts in support of clean energy. For the good health of our players and fans, we will continue to support initiatives to keep the air clean and the ponds frozen for future generations.”

[Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]