Insulation. LED lights. Low-e ceiling. Variable frequency drives. An energy management system. Cold water resurfacing technology.
There are many energy- and resource-efficient solutions on the market that can make your indoor ice arena far less expensive to run (read “Energy Efficient = Cost Savings”). But where, exactly, should you look first? Is there a list somewhere that others might be able to use as a guide?
I reached out to industry veteran and arena manager Les Quinton to see what he thought. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I often feature Quinton in my articles because, in addition to being a do-er, researcher and tracker, what he says always makes sense.
His words of wisdom are what I’ve coined Les Quintonisms. Like, one of my favorites — “If it’s not being used, turn it off.” And, “We’re trying to remove ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ from our vocabulary.”
He’s come up with sayings and operational procedures that make sense.
So when I ask him about his method, Quinton didn’t say that “X” should be done before “Y” — or “Y” before “X”. What he says is that job one is to fix all the deficiencies in the building first.
First Things First. Think About It.
In fact that’s exactly what he did when he first started working at the Oilfields Regional Arena over 20 years ago.
“What I did first is I fixed all the deficiencies in this building,” Quinton says of the Oilfields Regional Arena, an arena built in 1987 and now scoring 95/100 on Energy Star’s arena ratings — one of the highest rankings of any arena in Canada. “We needed to deal with leaking walls, we had issues with furnaces, so our first step was getting everything repaired so we could maintain and operate it properly.”
Quinton says that once the building was sealed, with no more light coming in from outside and his equipment was working as it should be, he was able to inventory his equipment and start to schedule regular maintenance on it — and determine life cycle.
“Then we started working on the low-hanging fruit, and taking advantage of opportunities as they cropped up,” Quinton explains.
The Oilfields Regional Arena was a pioneer with one of the first municipal facilities in Alberta to install a solar array — and that was because of a provincial government-run pilot program. That was back in 2005, a year where few Albertan communities showed interest in dabbling in solar energy.
But not Black Diamond!
Starting with a 1.8 kW system, the town needed to have 21 agreements executed with provincial and federal bodies so the Town could sell excess solar-generated electricity back to the grid. Quinton recalls that there were so many agreements, they covered an entire plywood sheet.
Fast forward to 2017: the arena sold 5,952 kWh back to the grid, having generated 21,172 kWh of electricity — or 10% of their yearly electricity spend. Yes, that’s right. This is an 8-month arena, but their annual energy spend barely tips past the 200,000 kWh level each year!!!
Because Quinton tracks everything, he proved that the solar arrays were good for his arena’s energy costs, and the revenues good for his Town. He compares his results with other results around the Province and because of their results, Black Diamond has grown their solar arrays since.
If you’re considering starting down the rather long and winding road to energy efficiency in your indoor ice arena, take Quinton’s advice and start with the first things, first. Study — know what’s out there and what you want and plan for it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is retrofitting an arena to make it more energy efficient.
But one step at a time, you’ll get there.