NHL Takes LEED In Promoting Renewable Energy

Consol Energy Center - NHL's First LEED Gold Arena (Flickr/rwoan)

Cold weather and ice have always been a part of hockey’s tradition, but these days the NHL wants teams to start taking advantage of the sun.

On Wednesday the league came together with MLB, MLS, NBA, and the NFL to deliver a letter to their teams, arenas, and stadiums stressing the benefits of solar power generation and outlining the work necessary to complete this transition.  The letter was prepared on their behalf by the National Resources Defense Council and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation and shows that sports leagues are serious about fighting climate change.

”We are acutely aware that our League, as well as all sports leagues, need to be responsible stewards of our planet,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on the teleconference. “Utilizing solar energy is an important and efficient environmental action that sends a broader signal to the culture.”

In recent years, the NHL and it’s teams have been at the forefront of renewable energy promotion.  Phillips Arena, home of the Atlanta Thrashers, became the first NHL arena to achieve LEED certification in 2009 and has become an example for stadiums and facilities across North America.  LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and represents that a facility has met green building standards and performance measures.

THW’s Stephanie Lewark reported last week that the CONSOL Energy Center set to open this fall in Pittsburgh has furthered the league’s commitment to the environment by becoming the NHL’s first LEED Gold certified arena:

I wanted to look into what exactly qualified the CONSOL to become LEED Gold Certified, so I spoke to an arena employee who explained that the new arena was constructed with a lot of recycled products such as gypsum board and metal. The bathrooms house low-flow (water-saving) toilets, but the major difference is in it’s efficiency. The CONSOL runs much more efficiently than the Igloo did which enables them to run it for a lot less money.  I’ve also learned since my visit that there are 28 spaces set aside in the new parking garage attached to the arena for low-emission, fuel-efficient cars that will be directed to the specified spaces by parking attendants.

The benefits of stadium solar use are significant as energy costs rise and global warming concerns escalate.  Most would expect that solar power benefits can only be enjoyed by warm-weather franchises such as Miami and Phoenix, but cities like Boston have already shown the potential in all regions of the country.  At Fenway Park, built in 1912 and home of the 2010 Winter Classic, 28 solar panels have been installed that generate 37% of the electricity used to heat water throughout the park.

Tax credits and grants are available in many cases, but the installation of solar panels is obviously not cheap.  (A 25,000 sq. ft. solar panel system on the roof of the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles cost $3.3m)  The NRDC/BEF letter outlines funding ideas for franchises to consider, such as:

You might also consider selling some piece of the renewable energy claims generated by the system to fans by having a “solar ticket” option. For instance, fans might be given the option of buying a special ticket whereby they would pay slightly more to support the solar electric system and to offset some of their own energy use or carbon impact.

It’s always irritating when the Ticketmaster processing fee of $5 to $15 gets tacked onto the cost of a single game ticket, but fans (and especially corporations) might be open to the thought of helping their team protect the environment.  Social benefits like this can’t be ignored as professional sports teams are some of the most influential entities in today’s society.  Setting an example and pushing these initiatives could have an enormous impact on Canada, the US, and the world.

In most cities, the panels will even pay for themselves in energy production.  Take Colorado for example.  The letter projects that a huge 500 kW system would cost $2.075m with incentives, produce 758,283 kWh per year, and avoid over 1 million pounds of CO2 emissions annually.  In approximately 15 years, the system would pay for itself.  Even Ilya Kovalchuk can’t say that.

[To read more and download the stadium guide, visit the NRDC website at http://www.nrdc.org/greenbusiness/guides/sports/solarguide.asp]

Mike Colligan

Mike Colligan

Managing Editor
Mike Colligan is an NHL analyst at Forbes SportsMoney and The Hockey Writers. Email: MJColligan@gmail.com
Mike Colligan
@mal68au @mwelchpgh letting the neighbors take a look before they buy - 6 days ago
Mike Colligan
Mike Colligan

11 Comments

  1. Liberal BS? yea they must be listening to fox news…. anyway… solar panels are good, but yea it isnt going to change much, 28 solar panels make up 37% of the energy, only to heat the water at fenway? atleast they are thinking about trying to find ways to lower operating costs, but there are probably more effective ways of this, and to whoever said i will start giving global warming a though when the ceos dont take personal planes and limos, i hear ya. i dont know why i keep calling it global warming anyway, its climate change.

  2. Its funny that you call this liberal BS. If you were educated, you would know that going green reduces costs, which in turn raises profits.

  3. Wow, fox news is a powerful tool. Lets see, NHL does well for the world, payback plan in place, climate change will effect its sport directly and indirectly, and many fans are upset? This is really not the place to bring up personal politics so I’ll just say- if you don’t believe in science then we can’t have a conversation. Here is one fan saying, I am proud to be a fan of the NHL because it is working towards minimizing its environmental impact. Now, lets get Ed. Snider on board and make Philly proud.

  4. If the leagues want to save money, going solar isn’t it, not by a long shot. It wastes more money, way more money. For Heaven’s sake, why do this liberal crap? The whole global warming thing is a hoax and scam to get more tax dollars. If you have to give tax credits or grants to anything, it means it is a waste of time and money. NO MORE TAX MONEY GOING TO ANY GREEN PROJECT, ITS ALL A LIE. I can’t afford for the leagues to go pansy green. If they want to go green, let them waste their own money, not mine!!!

  5. As a member of this planets younger generation, I happen to want to see a future for Earth that is not destroyed by global warming..

    I applaud them for this. Noe just leave the SUVs at home as well.

  6. And how about these teams use thier own money instead of taxpayers. We pay for the arena, we pay for the crap food, we pay the salaries and now these morons want us to pay for this. Go away for once, I can barely afford to go to a game anymore.

  7. Yet another example of why A**man is a joke. Lets put aside the argument that that Global Warming is a hoax and assume it isn’t (yeah right) and accept this BS as legit. Do you know the carbon footprint the NHL has and he thinks solar panels will make a dent? Yet another example of why he is a joke….even Ray Charles could see through his BS!!!!!!!

  8. GOgreenBUYcorporate says:

    Its about profit, not about going green, how about reducing corporate foods at games with local products, how about cutting costs on 10$ silces of pizza, how about feeding the homeless and providing jobs. Lets run our cars on corn and double the price of world food, thus creating more starvation. Global warming is a scam, google climate gate. down with the NWO

  9. Hockeydadincolo says:

    Bettman is a weasel. The NHL could score a coup and hire the Great 1 for commish. No one would boo when the cup is presented. Fighting climate change is like trying to slow the rotation of the earth around the sun. Get rid of the algore snakeoil salesmen in the NHL and get some hockey players. Fight global warming by driving the kids and their hockey gear in a friggin prius! sheesh! Kids will still grow up playing pond hockey (that’s outdoors Gary), here in Colorado and in the holy land of hockey, the great white north. When the shysters selling this climate change crap stop flying in private jets and riding in limos, people may even begin to take them serious. Global warming . . please!

    • correct, mr. diaz. private businesses encouraging other private businesses (some of whom enjoy big anti-trust exemptions) to invest in ways to cut their total operating costs is just another example of the vast left-wing conspiracy.

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