Dr. Allen Hershkowitz is known as "The Godfather of Greening" for his tireless work in making environmental responsibility understandable and achievable for everyone as the co-founder and president of the Green Sports Alliance.
Now, his efforts have reached new heights through the NHL and NHL Green.
Hershkowitz's nickname, given to him by Yoga and Joyful Living magazine in 2009, fits him well. He began advising companies on the importance of ecology in the 1980s. His clientele included Disney, Warner Bros. Warner Music Group and Fox Music Studios before he worked with the NHL, Major League Baseball, the NBA and Major League Soccer. He started a greening program for the Motion Picture Academy and created the Broadway Green Alliance before co-finding the Green Sports Alliance.
The mission statement of the Green Sports Alliance is promoting healthy, sustainable communities by inspiring sports leagues, teams, venues, and their partners and fans to embrace renewable energy, healthy food, recycling, water efficiency, species preservation, safer chemicals and other environmentally preferable practices. The NHL climbed aboard in 2010 with NHL Green to address the effects of climate change and freshwater scarcity on the game of hockey. The League is promoting its first Green Week, through Saturday, to celebrate its commitment to environmental sustainability.
"NHL Green is one of the most important environmental initiatives being implemented by any organization of any kind in the world," Hershkowitz said. "The NHL has huge visibility. It's what we call a non-traditional ally in the environmental movement."
Hershkowitz witnessed the League's influence during a December visit to Paris, where NHL vice president for corporate social responsibility Omar Mitchell made presentations to packed rooms. Mitchell's audience was fascinated with how the League employed a sustainability director who discussed the need to be more efficient in energy use, conserving water and promoting food donations.
Video: Commissioner Bettman talks about NHL Green Week
"The NHL's message on environmentalism has global visibility and global influence," Hershkowitz said. "It's helping to change the market toward environmentally preferable products. It's sending the message to the market that it wants smarter energy technologies, water conserving fixtures, healthy food and smart waste management.'
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was honored by the Green Sports Alliance with the Environmental Leadership Award for his visionary work and guidance in establishing NHL Green and promoting sustainable business practices across the League.
"This is coming from the top," Hershkowitz said. "An organization is the shadow of its leadership. Gary Bettman is one of the most influential environmentalists in the world. He's spectacularly supportive in helping to protect the planet. This is a very smartly run influential program."
Video: The NHL goes Green Line Powered By Constellation
The NHL is the 20th largest user of green power in the U.S., according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership, and the only sports league to appear on the Top 100 list. The League received the 2015 Green Power Leadership Award from the EPA for its leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market.
"I think the National Hockey League has acquired more awards for its environmental work than any other sports organization in the world," Hershkowitz said. "That's a testament to the investment the League has made in investigating the science and the economics of this issue. To its credit, the National Hockey League is not only respecting the science, but it's also trying to figure out how to make this a partnership with its sponsors so we actually can help broaden its influence around this issue."
Through the NHL's partnership with Constellation, the League's Preferred Energy Choice, all greenhouse gas emissions resulting from operations during NHL Green Week will be counterbalanced through investments in wind power and methane gas capture from landfills.
Video: GSA supports NHL to enrich environmental performance
Constellation supplies power, natural gas, renewable energy and energy management products and services for homes and businesses across the United States. The League has partnered with Constellation for two straight seasons and its arenas have used alternative, more environmentally-friendly energy sources, including on-site solar power and fuel cell technology.
In addition, NHL teams are installing LED game light technology to reduce glare, improve game presentation and visibility for players, and dramatically cut energy. The 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville was the first to be played under LED lights.
"Constellation is pleased to join the NHL in celebrating Green Week and congratulates them on their continued commitment to sustainability." said Andrew Singer, vice president for Constellation. "In addition to our work with the League, its clubs and facilities, engaging and educating fans is one of the most important aspects of our energy partnership with the NHL, and Green Week has enabled us to share the importance of environmental responsibility and sustainable energy use with thousands of hockey fans."