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NHL’s Sustainable Journey: Pioneering Greener Sports with Technological Innovation

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The NHL’s Commitment to Environmental Stewardship


Since its inception in 1917, the National Hockey League (NHL) has evolved into a modern sports organization with 32 member clubs and over 670 million fans across North America. Beyond the ice and intense competition, the NHL has quietly become a sustainability pioneer in the sports industry.

In an interview with Omar Mitchell, the Vice President of Sustainable Infrastructure and Growth Initiatives at the NHL, the organization’s commitment to environmental stewardship becomes evident. Mitchell emphasizes the need for natural ice, cold weather, and fresh water for the sport’s continuation while also stressing the importance of vibrant and healthy communities.

The NHL Green Program: A Sustainable Mission

Environmental sustainability is a top priority for the NHL, thanks to the visionary leadership of Commissioner Gary Bettman, who initiated the award-winning NHL Green program. Launched during the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the program aims to embed sustainable business practices throughout the League and its member clubs.

The NHL’s dedication to sustainability was further solidified in 2014 when it issued its first sustainability report—the first of its kind for any North American professional sports league. This report included a comprehensive carbon inventory, offering valuable insights into the environmental impact of the NHL and its clubs.

Leveraging Technology to Enhance Sustainability Efforts

The process of creating the initial carbon inventory in 2014 was a complex undertaking, as no organization had previously assembled and calculated such data. The data collection involved manual efforts across all NHL venues. As sustainability goals evolved, the need for more efficient data collection and analysis became apparent.

In 2018, the NHL issued its second sustainability report, which signaled the opportunity for modernization. The organization sought a tech-savvy solution, leading to a co-innovation partnership with SAP. Having already collaborated successfully on the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights mobile app, the League turned to SAP again to develop a new digital platform—NHL Venue Metrics.

NHL Venue Metrics: Streamlining Sustainability Data

NHL Venue Metrics, powered by SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), emerged as the game-changer in the NHL’s sustainability journey. This innovative platform streamlined the data collection process, making it easier for stakeholders to input, visualize, and process the information. With this technology, the NHL gained actionable insights to reduce its carbon footprint effectively.

The data-driven approach allowed the League to identify opportunities for improvement, such as replacing energy-intensive lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED lights. The positive results not only enhanced sustainability efforts but also improved the overall fan experience.

Driving Sustainable Practices Across the NHL

NHL Venue Metrics became the catalyst for fostering sustainable practices across the NHL, its clubs, and venues. The platform provided access to critical data for stakeholders to make informed decisions, propelling the organization toward its sustainability goals.

By sharing knowledge and best practices, the NHL aims to implement new technologies, products, and services that can further reduce emissions. Transparency into these efforts empowers fans to engage with the League’s sustainability initiatives, leading to a network effect that positively impacts the climate fight.

A Hat Trick for Technology, Environment, and Fans

The NHL’s journey toward sustainability through technological innovation is a true hat trick—benefiting the business, the environment, and the fans’ experience. As the organization continues to embed sustainable practices into its operations, it remains committed to inspiring millions of fans to adopt sustainable lifestyles. The NHL’s pioneering efforts serve as a model for greener sports, paving the way for a more environmentally conscious future in the world of athletics with sustainable practices .


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