Energy Star Benchmarking

Gordie Snook

Gordie Snook, Port Hawkesbury, NS

Last week, I met Gordie Snook, the General Manager of Facilities and Operations of the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. Ever since I read that Business Week named that arena one of the 10 most impressive sports venues in the world, I had wanted to see first hand what sets it apart. I was mega impressed (and have enough material to write for days — so stay tuned!) But it’s something that Gordie mentioned in passing that made me super excited, that Energy Star Benchmarking for ice arenas and curling rinks is now available in Canada.

And I love that idea.

clam strips

Vickey from MVP – Miss Vickey’s Place, serving up clam strips, a canteen specialty

During the tour, which included a pit stop at the MVP canteen for some clam strips, I asked him how the PHCC ranks in Canada for energy efficiency. He said that although he believes his facility is in the top 5 in Nova Scotia, he has no idea how it ranks nationally. That reminded him that he’d just received an email from the Recreation Facility of Nova Scotia announcing that Energy Star benchmarking is now available for Canadian indoor skating and curling arenas.

Keene Ice: 71 kbtu/ft2/year

The first time I heard about an indoor ice arena submitting information to Energy Star for inclusion in their database of buildings was the Keene Community Ice Arena in Keene, New Hampshire. That work was done by Bill Root, the LEED-certified engineer — and the only ASHRAE High-Performance Building Design Certified Professional in Vermont — who had recommended analyzed and modeled the energy-saving methods the public/private build should consider implementing to meet the owners’ desire to minimize energy use.

Bill Root

Bill Root of GWR Engineering, PC

Keene Ice is a single pad that operates year round. They opened in December, 2015 and in the spring of 2017, after an entire year had gone by, Bill analyzed the data on that facility’s energy spend and input it into Energy Star’s energy survey to compare to projections. The results were not exactly as modeled but to everyone’s satisfaction, the energy spent compared to other arenas in the USA was about 30% less.

Their total total EUI (Energy Use Intensity) was calculated at being 71 kbtu per square foot per year. To achieve such efficiencies, a system of High Efficiency heat pumps is used, utilizing the (waste) heat off the refrigeration compressors to heat the domestic water for the facility, provide ambient heating for the entire building (radiant floors), melt the snow in their snow pit, heat incoming ventilation air for locker rooms and keep the sidewalks into the building warm all winter long so that no shoveling needs to be done at the entrance to the arena. They also paid attention to the low hanging fruit of today’s arena retrofits, like installing LED lighting and motion detectors throughout the building, adding a low-e ceiling (complete with low-e paint on the bottom of roof trusses which account for 18% of the ceiling) deflecting any heat away from the ice and they put in a system that lets them resurface using cold water. The arena itself shares walls with two municipal buildings: on one side is the police station; on the other is the municipal garage.

A Level Playing Field for Indoor Ice Arenas

Some provinces, like Alberta, offer a survey for its arenas and curling rinks. Les Quinton, who’s 20 years of energy efficiencies I’ve written about previously, shared his Tame+ dashboard report on the Black Diamond arena with me — you can see that here. But having national comparisons for both Canada and the USA is needed so arena managers, civic planners, engineers and architects can see what energy efficient methods are working the best so they can be included into arenas no matter where they’re located.

With Energy Star, it won’t matter where your arena is located: weather will be considered in making the calculations to make a more level-playing-field in determining how the arenas score.

To find out more, the Energy Star program is administrated by NRCAN and you can find out more here:

In the USA, you can find out more about the Energy Star program on that government website here: