The National Hockey League raised the “greening of sports” bar by at least 2 levels by its commitment to 1) completely offset all of the CO2 emissions it and its 30 teams generate this season, and 2) make significant reductions of those emissions, year after year. That stunning pledge was part of today’s announcement by the partnership between the NHL and its new energy sponsor, Constellation Energy.
To my mind, it was a bloody Stanley Cup® Winning Game Changer!
That’s what today’s announcement of the National Hockey League’s move to completely offset its CO2 emissions and those of its 30 teams for the full 2014-2015 season amounts to, as part of a new, 3 year partnership with Constellation Energy, a leading competitive energy and services company.
Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, President of the Green Sports Alliance, said today’s announcement is “the most important environmental initiative ever made by a sports league globally.”
Hyperbole? Well, a look at the details will show that my Bold Italic interpretation of Dr. Hershkowitz’ excitement about this deal is, if anything, understated:
- CARBON NEUTRALITY: At the NHL’s request, Constellation will provide Certified Green-e Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Certified Green-e Carbon Offsets to match the League’s estimated total carbon footprint – 550,000 metric tons (equivalent to removing the carbon emissions resulting from electricity usage of 50,000 homes)– for the 2014-15 season. This estimate is only possible because the NHL measured its footprint (what gets measured gets managed and what gets managed matters!) and published the results in its 2014 Sustainability Report, the first one ever produced by a professional sports league.
- ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Constellation will work with the League to conduct rigorous energy efficiency analyses, recommend energy management strategies and institute best practices for the NHL’s facilities, with the goal of reducing energy use across the league’s operations. Commissioner Gary Bettman was particularly animated when he spoke about the energy efficiency technology and consulting expertise Constellation would bring to the League: “Our partnership with Constellation advances our commitment to promoting responsible energy use by the NHL, including our teams, our venues and our fans.”
- FAN ENGAGEMENT: Truth is, NHL fans are already engaged in sustainable behaviors: A 2011 report from Scarborough Research showed NHL fans are 11 times more likely to recycle glass, plastic or paper versus the average U.S. adult, 19 times more likely to donate money or time to environmental causes, and 20 times more likely to pay for eco-friendly products and services. But, since fan engagement has room for massive growth, Constellation and the League will work hard to reach fans with energy efficiency and recycling messaging wherever they may find them: At arenas, watching on TV (Constellation will serve as presenting sponsor of NHL Live™ Powered by Constellation on NHL Network), online, via social media, etc. Green messaging will be particularly prominent at the League’s premier, most highly visible events, including the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® on New Year’s Day, 2015 Honda NHL® All-Star Game, 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ and the 2015 Stanley Cup® Playoffs.
Infographic depicting the NHL’s-Constellation Energy’s Greening “Game Plan”.
Dr. Hershkowitz of the Green Sports Alliance sees this deal, rightly in my view, as much greater than sum of its (very important) parts: “The NHL and Constellation are leading a cultural shift in sports toward ecologically responsible energy practices. This partnership confirms that responsible environmental stewardship can be profitable and attractive to millions of fans. Hopefully this partnership will influence other businesses and fans alike to embrace renewable energy options which are so desperately needed to protect our planet.”
Hopefully, Roger Goodell (Commissioner of the NFL), Adam Silver (NBA), Rob Manfred (MLB), and Don Garber (MLS), are paying close attention to Dr. Hershkowitz and Commissioner Bettman. If that’s the case then GreenSportsBlog will soon be writing similar stories about those leagues.
But, for now, kudos to the NHL for what it did today and, in fact, for what it had been doing before today (the aforementioned Sustainability Report, and NHL Green – a comprehensive sustainability initiative created in 2010 to address the effects of climate change and freshwater scarcity on the sport of hockey). As for what tomorrow may look like (greener fan transportation to-from games?), today’s announcement gives one serious hope that the NHL will continue to lead the green-sports charge.
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