It is late April, and my favorite time of the sports year is here: the NHL playoffs. I like watching hockey; I love watching playoff hockey. I especially love the Pittsburgh Penguins winning in the playoffs—like when Sidney Crosby hoisted the Stanley Cup a couple of years ago. This year, I have another reason to love hockey. I learned that the NHL has a whole environmental initiative called NHL Green.
I checked out some of the videos; one had Commissioner Gary Bettman speaking about why the NHL Green initiative is important. This was good to see, since the Commissioner of the NHL is essentially the CEO of the League. Having the support of the CEO for any company (or league)- wide initiative is very helpful. In another video, he announced that thousands of reusable bags will be utilized (in place of plastic bags) at both host arenas during the Stanley Cup finals in June. Also, sustainability representatives from each of the 30 clubs will meet regularly to monitor and share ideas for things like reducing energy usage.
Actually, the whole NHL Green concept came from the fact that almost all of the clubs, and many of the players, were implementing environmental and sustainability initiatives anyways. The NHL Green program will to some extent coordinate and leverage the existing efforts of the clubs—and provide a corporate structure to promote these efforts via a microsite at nhl.com and other channels.
Some of the individual clubs’ efforts are pretty impressive as well. In terms of physical plant, both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Atlanta Thrashers play in LEED-certified arenas. (LEED is a designation of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design given by the US Green Building Council.) The Penguins new building is LEED-Gold, and the Thrashers (and co-tenants Atlanta Hawks) retrofitted their existing facility to meet the LEED-EB (existing building) standards. These standards cover categories such as water efficiency, building materials, etc. Aside from LEED-based programs, typical efforts are those like energy –efficiency upgrades planned for the home of the Nashville Predators—the Bridgestone Arena.
Numerous clubs have sponsored various types of recycling initiatives during their home games. The Nashville Predators (amongst others) have implemented programs to recycle aluminum, plastics, paper—and cooking oils. If you happened to have attended the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Go Green Night in March you could have recycled a car or boat battery. If you had ridden your bicycle to this game, you would have gotten a free ticket from the club. In San Jose, you had a chance to take care of e-waste recycling (computers, etc) on your way to one of their games.
The San Jose Sharks had perhaps the most creative promotion—the “Greenest Fan.” Each month, the team accepted videos from fans saying what makes them the “greenest fans”. The overall winner was honored that season finale April 9th, and got 2 free tickets in the bargain.
Many players have also gotten involved in sustainability efforts. For example, Matt Bradley of the Washington Capitals inspired a team effort to reduce bottled water consumption by recycling water bottles and switching to filtered water instead. Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has gone so far as to demonstrate worm composting for a high school science class (in addition to eating organic food for his pre-and post game meals). Since I tend towards organics whenever possible, I hope that his is not alone.
In addition to all of the above efforts by the league, clubs, and players, fans can get involved also. On one hand, they can sign up for programs like the Buffalo Sabres Green Team, which sponsors river cleanups and provides tips on living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. They also give you a (green) Green Team T-shirt. For the more casual fan, the NHL green has numerous links for sustainable living-my favorite is “get the stink out of sports gear. ” I provide the link below as a public service.
I am enjoying the NHL playoffs this Earth Day. I am also enjoying the combination of sustainability and hockey even more.
The NHL Green microsite:
Get the Stink Out