The NHL and SAP team up to boost sustainability efforts using new NHL Venue Metrics platform

The NHL and its teams are now tracking energy, water, waste, and recycling across its various venues to better understand the league's carbon footprint.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
Hockey player in an ice rink midstop
Getty Images

Sustainability is a hot topic this year among large corporations. Nearly every recent tech event or press release has made some mention of sustainability efforts and reducing tech's carbon footprint

For the past 12 years, the National Hockey League has had some form of sustainability initiative. NHL Green was launched in 2010, followed by the release of sustainability reports released in 2014 and 2018

But as we're beginning to hear from companies, large and small, there's more work to be done. That's why SAP and the NHL have worked together to create the NHL Venue Metrics platform in an effort to better measure and identify trends within the arenas the teams play in.

I recently spoke with Omar Mitchell, vice president of sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives at the NHL, who likened the venues to being like a giant refrigerator to keep the ice frozen, and he's not wrong. As we all know, refrigerators use a lot of energy. 

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NHL Venue Metrics was developed by SAP and provides the NHL along with its teams' venue partners with access to aggregated data, not only from their own venues but from venues across the league. According to the NHL, team venues account for 70% of the league's carbon footprint. 

To start with, the league and venues will measure energy use, water consumption -- both when creating the ice for the game and more general water use such as bathrooms and concessions -- waste, and recycling. 

NHL energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water, waste, and normalization statistics
Image: NHL/SAP

The tool collects data submitted by venues, validates it by looking for any reporting errors, and then analyzes the data using calculation formulas to determine energy and other relevant use. And, finally, the tool provides a website where venues and the league can view reports, gain insight, and look for trends.

This isn't the only area where the NHL and SAP have worked together to provide more insight into the game of hockey. Just last year the NHL, SAP, and Apple developed the SAP-NHL Coaching Insights app for the iPad to give coaches more data and tools to better analyze a game in real time.

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The new Venue Metrics tool started being used in earnest in September 2022, with the league asking teams to submit historical data dating back to 2018, and to continue contributing to the program throughout the rest of the 2022–2023 season. 

According to Mitchell, the goal is that venues will continue to use the tool beyond just the NHL season and events. There's still a lot of energy being used by venues throughout the whole year, be it for concerts or other sporting events.

Another addition that will eventually make its way into the bigger sustainability picture will be the energy used by teams' practice rinks and facilities, which themselves are also giant (albeit smaller) refrigerators.

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