While the National Hockey League (NHL) is impacted by environmental issues more than any other sport, it warns that climate change could threaten the future of the sport if something isn't done to combat these environmental issues. And the NHL plans to increase the league's overall sustainability by reducing its own carbon footprint.
In the 2014 NHL Sustainability report—the first document of its kind to be released by a national sports league—the NHL outlined its goals to promote green business practices and increase sustainability. Its program, titled NHL Green, is a "comprehensive, high-impact environmental sustainability initiative that was established in 2010 by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to promote green business practices across the league," according to NHL.com.
The report also disclosed the NHL's carbon footprint, which is approximately 530,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year and accounts for the overall league and club business activities and comprehensive travel—equivalent to the output of approximately 111,579 cars, according to Think Progress. While this tends to be high in comparison to other national sports leagues, the NHL said it is making progress each year aimed at increasing its sustainability practices.
"The Report's focus on controlling fossil-fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions is a mainstream wake-up call that climate disruption poses an existential threat to everything we hold dear, including sports and recreation," Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D., senior scientist and head of NRDC's Green Sports program, who provided guidance during the writing of the report, said.
According to NHL.com, NHL Green aims to:
- reduce the use of natural resources in business operations
- track and measure the environmental impact of the sport
- inspire fans and partners to commit to environmental stewardship
Not only is the NHL very dependent on the environment for its continued operation, it has a vested interest in taking on initiatives to restore the environment. With programs such as Gallons for Goals and Hattricks for Trees, the league gives back throughout the season to help protect the environment, according to Think Progress.
And as it continues to go green, the NHL is creating a set of standards to continue to achieve environmental restoration in the future.