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Into the Wild: Minnesota Shows Operational Impact of Sustainability

Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 12:30 PM

By Jim Ibister - Special to NHL Green / NHL Green Slapshots™

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NHL Green Slapshots™
Into the Wild: Minnesota Shows Operational Impact of Sustainability

Jim Ibister is the Vice President of Facility Administration for the Minnesota Wild and General Manager of the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

Seemingly, one of the misconceptions of sustainability programs is that they are all about resource conservation. While conservation is an important outcome of the Minnesota Wild/Xcel Energy Center’s sustainability program, it is certainly not the only one. We take a more holistic view of this program, including a focus on improving operational efficiencies in people and processes.

Creating and maintaining a successful sustainability program requires, among other things, a strong grasp of data. First, and perhaps most importantly, the staff needed to know their starting point. The Minnesota Wild partnered with consultant Progressive Associates to not only shepherd a successful campaign but to help us better understand who we were and how we operated.

The data Progressive gathered created a snapshot of the past and allowed the team to create a vision of the future. It helped to answer staff questions about why they were being asked to change their current practices. With the resulting buy-in came teamwork and with ongoing teamwork came repeatable and long-lasting change.

Good data also allowed us to ask and answer ongoing operational questions. Our team at the Xcel Energy Center developed a program that not only tracked monthly energy consumption and invoices, but also collected data in much smaller increments. This enabled important situational analysis, to answer questions such as: “Why is there a spike of electrical usage during these hours? What happened here that we see heating usage when we should be cooling?”

Now, in cooperation with the NHL and through application software developed by OSIsoft, the Wild’s Ice Operations team is taking this effort one step further. They are developing a program that will produce real-time data on what is happening to the ice as temperatures and conditions change in the arena. This live data, through monitors at the ice level, will give the ice team a head start in reacting to changes that might adversely affect the quality of ice. And while most of this data has always existed, it will now be presented in a consolidated way, overlaid with personal feedback and qualitative analysis. Nothing is more important to the Wild’s ice operations team than continuing to stay at the top of the pack in terms of ice quality.

These exciting developments are born out of a great side effect of a successful sustainability program: understanding who you are and how you work.

As teams and facilities strive to be more responsible in their use of natural resources, it is equally important to operate efficiently and with the excellence associated with the entire NHL.

View Xcel Energy Center's Sustainability Progress Reports.