NHL And SAP Introduce New Venue Metrics Tool To Aid Sustainability Efforts

Hockey’s very essence puts environmental sustainability and climate change front and center. On Wednesday, the NHL announced the introduction of a new tool designed to transform and reimagine how the league advances sustainability objectives within its organization. The tool will assist with the collection, processing and reporting of data which will help set future targets and map out a path toward ever-improving outcomes.

Developed in conjunction with technology partner SAP, NHL Venue Metrics is an end-to-end, cloud-based platform. It will enable the league to gather real-time insights and analyze the data produced by its clubs and arenas across a variety of aspects including energy, water, waste, and recycling.

“In order for us to impact any change, we need to measure,” said Omar Mitchell, the NHL’s vice-president of sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives. “We cannot impact what we do not measure. We knew that this was an important part of our of our sustainability efforts because it really showed us what was material to us.

“What we wanted to do is take this measurement to the next level to modernize it, and this is where the platform with SAP becomes really important. This platform allows us to work with a partner like SAP who shares our values around sustainability, to really help us advance our agenda and to get us to the next level.”

The NHL and SAP have been working together to use technology to enhance league operations since entering into a multi-year partnership in 2015. Since that time, SAP has helped to overhaul the league’s real-time stats platform and developed tools like the Coaching Insights app which allows coaches and players to follow game data and statistics from the bench in real time on an iPad.

“As it relates to our partnership, specifically, it really has been about innovation from the start,” said Amy Schulz, the senior director of global sponsorships at SAP.

NHL Venue Metrics is the latest product of that technology partnership. And like Coaching Insights, it will sit on SAP’s business-to-technology platform, or SAPBTP.

“The flexibility is the biggest asset for this platform,” said Schulz. “It really does allow us to take capabilities from across — whether it’s application development, data and analytics integration, A.I. — we take all that as a fundamental and we can put it into the constant evolution.

“Once we deliver a piece of technology, we’re going to continue to hone it. We want input and we want to understand from the clubs and the venues how this information is helping them meet and achieve their goals.”

SAP also brings valuable knowledge in the sustainability space.

“Not only do they have the technology in place, with that flexibility to help us understand and be nimble with how we use this tool,” said Mitchell, “we also leverage the experts in SAP — a brand that is prioritizing sustainability.”

Those experts will not just help develop and build the platform. They’ll stay engaged, evaluating insights while comparing and contrasting with implementations across other organizations. That helps further the path toward best practices, and the evolution of the NHL Venue Metrics tool.

As a game played on frozen water, hockey requires distinct environmental conditions: cold temperatures, and plenty of water to freeze. As a professional sporting spectacle, other aspects of the NHL’s business that have sustainability components include arena requirements such as power, consumables and recycling.

With that in mind, the NHL first launched its Green Initiative in 2010. Mitchell came on board in 2012, with a mandate from commissioner Gary Bettman to build out the initiative to promote sustainable business practices and build awareness.

In its initial launch, NHL Venue Metrics delivers three key functionalities, which will be available to all 32 clubs and arenas this season.

  • Data Collection, which provides an interface between teams and their venue partners that will allow them to collect and report consumption data for energy sources including electricity, natural gas and renewable energy where applicable. Data can also be collected on water consumption as well as waste and waste management — particularly important because recycling efforts are a visible touchpoint for fans inside the area.
  • Data Calculation and Validation is the processing and verification engine used at the league level to track data consistency, identify reporting errors and provide outputs used to determine the league’s carbon inventory.
  • Data Reporting and Visualization is the dashboard seen in the mockup above, which illustrates relevant environmental, consumption and financial insights at both the enterprise level and club level. “At the league level, we have the enterprise view of all of our venues and our clubs, and we can start to see league averages,” Mitchell said. “It allows us to stratify, based on like markets and unlike markets, and start to understand different insights or attributes that can be shared with other venues.”

Over time, teams and arenas around the league will also be able to see trends in their own data. “It’s that type of insight that gives them another tool in their toolkit to help them inform better better business practices and operating decisions,” said Mitchell.

The tool is intended to continue a process which is ongoing — and where the yardsticks have already moved significantly since the NHL Green initiative was launched 12 years ago.

“We’ve seen a real sea change in how sustainable business practices are implemented across venues and across our clubs,” said Mitchell. “The pinnacle of that is Climate Pledge Arena. That building and that organization prioritizes environmental sustainability — it’s really embedded into their operations.

“And we see that trend, not just at Climate Pledge but also in UBS Arena and some of our other newer venues as well. All of the newest venues in the past six years have been built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

“This is not a one-and-done. This is the evolution of our practices to showcase how sports and entertainment and particularly the NHL is really advancing this effort. It’s this type of tool that will get us to the next level.”

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