Ice hockey needs water. The ice-making and resurfacing process is among the most water-intensive operations in professional sports. On average, it takes 12,000 to 15,000 gallons of water to create an NHL regulation ice sheet, which typically is kept frozen for an entire season. Once created, ice re-surfacers scrape or shave the ice sheet and re-build it with a thin layer of water to ensure that the surface is optimal for the competitive play that takes place on it.
Primary water uses at NHL arenas include ice making, HVAC-R systems like cooling towers, food services, indoor plumbing fixtures and even exterior landscaping at some of our venues. Together, these uses account for the estimated 320 million gallons of water - equivalent to about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools - that are used across the League during a season.
NHL arenas are leading the charge to showcase innovations and advances to make the "greenest ice." At Climate Pledge Arena, home of the Seattle Kraken - the 32nd NHL franchise - the arena will capture rainwater from its roof, enough to fill a 15,000 gallon cistern to hold the water, to be used for making ice. At Staples Center, home of the LA Kings, the arena uses an advanced environmental air-management system that helps to capture water from the air which is then stored in water tanks to use for non-potable water uses.
Kraken Makes the
Staples Center Captures
Water from the Air
Ice Maintenance & Quality
Control to use less water
Also, while not part of the NHL's material scope, the approximately 4,500 community rinks across North America also share similar water consumption patterns, particularly focused on ice making and HVAC-R cooling tower-type systems.
Some of these rinks have installed environmentally-focused innovations like recycling water from the ice once it is shaved from the ice resurfacing process. This involves melting the ice, ensuring that water is cleaned from impurities through various advances infiltration and purification, and then re-used to resurface the ice. Even the latest advances in ice maintenance and quality control have water savings features - like using laser leveling systems attached to resurfacers to ensure no extra water is added to build the ice sheet, and computer-controlled spray devices attached to resurfacers that use less water to create an ice sheet. More than 1/3rd of all NHL arenas currently uses these systems and adoption is expanding in community rinks. Rinks are also reducing their water consumption by installing adiabatic fluid coolers in lieu of traditional cooling towers.
Over the past 10+ years, the NHL has been committed to water stewardship in the communities where we live, work and play. The League has counterbalanced over 88 million gallons of water through the purchase of water restoration credits in partnership with our partner Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF). We amplified these efforts through our Gallons for Goals program and the NHL's Water Neutral Stanley Cup Final. And some of our Clubs have activated this effort to educate our fans around this work too, with the support of BEF.
Our water stewardship efforts continue to inspire the broader hockey community. One such example is the usage of broken hockey sticks to create oyster and marine habitats in local waterways. These efforts encompass multiple objectives: the broken sticks are upcycled, the oyster and marine bio habitats treat the water, and the projects are used as tools to educate youth around the importance of water in our local communities.