The National Hockey League has committed to becoming the first major sports league to go carbon-neutral.
Under a partnership with the energy-services firm Constellation, the league will work with its 30 teams to slash its carbon emissions and purchase carbon offsets for all its emissions during the current 2014-15 season. The league is estimated to emit 530,000 metric tons of carbon this season through energy use at its arenas and offices, nearly 2 million miles of team air travel, consumption of goods, and other league operations.
"Our sport was born on frozen ponds and relies on winter weather," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "Everyone who loves our game will benefit by taking an active role in preserving the environment and the roots of the game."
Constellation CEO Joe Nigro said the company would offer energy-efficiency analyses to NHL teams and provide Renewable Energy Certificates to offset emissions and promote wind farms, clean biomass, and solar power. The effort will also include emissions from games already played this season, which began in October.
Allen Hershkowitz, president of the Green Sports Alliance, said that although the NHL's emissions are relatively small when compared with, for example, a coal-fired power plant, the symbolic importance of the NHL's move couldn't be over-stated.
"What we need is a market shift, a cultural shift in the marketplace," said Hershkowitz, whose group partners to make sports leagues more sustainable. "The NHL is using its market and cultural influence to educate millions of people around the world about the importance of addressing the urgent issue" of climate change.
The NHL has been ahead of most sports leagues on sustainability, using a NHL Green program launched in 2010 to promote recycling and cleaner energy at its arenas. In July, the league released a sustainability report, the first by a major sports league, that detailed its carbon footprint and identified how teams would cut energy use in future seasons.