NEW YORK -- There was a time when Mike Richter was considered the preeminent goaltender in the NHL for the New York Rangers. Since his retirement in 2003, Richter has made just as determined an effort to help save the Earth's resources as a businessman and environmentalist.
Richter is the co-founder and co-managing director at Healthy Planet Partners (HPP), a company that retrofits commercial buildings with clean energy technologies to minimize energy consumption and environmental impact.
"You need non-governmental organizations, you need the capital markets, you need government to all work together because we're figuring out a new paradigm for how the world needs to run," Richter told NHL.com. "We can't divorce ourselves from the environment in which we live, so it's got to be clean."
Richter's efforts will be part of the first NHL Green Week, celebrating the League's commitment to environmental sustainability.
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From March 12 through March 18, 2016, the NHL and its member clubs will showcase its greening programs and initiatives that are reducing the League's environmental impact, while calling on fans and partners to accelerate a movement toward a healthier planet.
"Hockey relies on winter weather and clean water to provide the conditions necessary to play hockey in its purest form," Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Challenges such as climate change and freshwater scarcity affect the roots of our game. We take this opportunity to celebrate our commitment to the environment because this is important to us."
All greenhouse gas emissions resulting from League operations during NHL Green Week will be counterbalanced through investments in wind power and methane gas capture from landfills. The League's renewable energy and carbon offset initiative is accomplished in partnership with Constellation, the preferred energy choice of the NHL.
The NHL has counterbalanced its greenhouse gas footprint for the 2015-16 season with the purchase of 271 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of Green-e® Energy Certified RECs and Green-e Climate certified carbon offsets to match 126,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e).
The NHL now ranks as the 20th-largest user of green power in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership, and was recognized with the 2015 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. EPA for its leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market.
In addition, the League will restore 7.5 million gallons of water to the Colorado River, equal to the total estimated water consumption from each venue for one home game, from ice making to restrooms to concessions, through its partnership with Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
Near the end of a 14-season playing career, Richter was taking courses on and off at Columbia University, and in 2009 he graduated from Yale University with a degree in ethics, politics and economics with a concentration on environmental policy. Next to his family, helping save the Earth has become a passion.
"HPP was put together with the idea you can be paid to do the right thing," Richter said. "Invest money into some of the solutions and incentivize people and get paid for it so it's not just charity work and it becomes mainstream. The best example of that is the car industry."
Richter mentioned a few automobile companies making headway in an upgraded design that should provide consumers more thermal efficient engines.
His latest venture, however, has him thinking solar and working hand-in-hand with BrightCore Energy. Richter's focus is financing for lighting upgrades in commercial buildings and providing businesses a 50- to 80-percent savings on lighting and a smaller environmental footprint.
Richter believes sports can be used as a platform to help better the environment.
"People may think that combining sports and environmentalism is odd but it's not, because waste is an example of being inefficient and sports is all about efficiency," he said. "Who can throw the ball the quickest? Who can get to the puck faster? I think the NHL has done a magnificent job in making their buildings as efficient as the athletes that use them."
Richter said he knows how difficult change is, but he also stresses the need to do so in order to create a better tomorrow.
"It's difficult to move our society and culture in a different direction, but nothing cuts across political and socioeconomic barriers more in our society than sport, and we have incredible leadership from Gary Bettman on down," Richter said. "They have given me all kinds of opportunities and we're trying to score a couple hat tricks here but taking it one shift at a time. The opportunity is there and we're slowly but surely getting it right."
Commissioner Bettman was honored with the 2014 Green Sports Alliance Environmental Leadership Award for his visionary work and guidance in establishing NHL Green and promoting sustainable business practices across the League.
In October 2015 the NHL was recognized for its leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market with a Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. EPA.
"I know from the most conservative to the most liberal people, and they all want the same thing," Richter said. "They want clean air, water and land for their kids. Good people can differ on how you go about it but we know there is a need to do it. And the more we can present opportunities in different forms of it, the better."
In 2010 the League launched NHL Green, an environmental initiative which addressed the effects of climate change and freshwater scarcity on the game of hockey.
"You have 30 NHL teams and they all go about it in a different way; in Edmonton it's goals for gallons," Richter said. "Nothing gets more basic than food and water and the NHL has won awards for its ability to take a stadium full of processed food that has been prepared but unused and not only keep it from a landfill but feed homeless people. So if you're clever about this, it's truly a win-win situation.
"With Bettman's leadership and a lot of people working within the Green Sports Alliance, the opportunity is there and people like me will continue to work through it. I'm really focused on doing the lighting upgrades and I think there's a great opportunity to do it with some of the partners the NHL has right now."
This season the NHL again worked with Constellation to implement energy efficiency strategies in NHL arenas and counterbalance greenhouse gas emissions from all League activities through Renewable Energy Certificates and carbon offsets.
"Every building out there can be more efficient, so having the platform that the NHL provides and sports in general provides is a fantastic thing," Richter said.