“It was an environmental mess.”
One of the many things the new Public Works Manager for the Town of Thorsby, Alberta wanted to change for an environmental impact was how the operations department dealt with the ice paint cleanup. According to Wayne Maclean, at the end of each season, the ice from the Arctic Spas Recreation Complex was dumped in a ditch behind the arena. Once the ice melted, residue from the ice paint coated the grass. It eventually found its way into the storm sewer which lead to a creek about half a mile away.
“I didn’t want our staff mowing that grass and dispersing that old ice paint further and putting it into the air,” Maclean says. “It was time to make a change.”
Maclean had Kevin Grumetza as a contact on LinkedIN and read periodic postings of Grumetza’s Hack-to-Hack Solutions for curling rinks. He wondered if the custom-printed reusable mesh sheets that Grumetza produced would be a reasonable alternative to ice paint that his Town could afford. The operations department already had experience embedding mesh logos in the ice each season, so why not mesh everywhere? He contacted Grumetza, explained what he wanted and got a price quote that he took to his Town Council.
With the ice paint becoming an environmental concern, the Town’s Council unanimously approved the purchase.
“They didn’t even blink their eyes,” Maclean says of the motion to purchase the ice paint alternative. Water, and wastewater, is a high priority for the Town of Thorsby: in December, 2018 it became one of the first Alberta towns to start working towards a “Goal Zero” water re-use program to reuse 100% of the wastewater from its municipal lagoons.
Warmer Ice Temps Too!
Installing the sheets was an environmental solution, but Maclean didn’t know there would be other benefits.
“We’re running on infrared and our ice at now at 18 or 19°F instead of 16°F. So we’re getting energy savings too,” he explains. “We wanted to find a way to take away that environmental impact and got a secondary benefit out of it!”
Maclean is surprised that more municipalities aren’t installing the mesh sheets in their indoor ice arenas.
“If small towns like ours can do this, I don’t know why bigger towns aren’t looking at it for their arenas. We’re a small place with limited funds and we were able to easily purchase them. If we can do it, others can too.”
Nearing 1,000 Sheets Sold!
Over the past 14 years, Kevin Grumetza has had great success with his patented reusable, custom-printed mesh sheets. He’s closing in on one thousand installations, a number he’s very proud of.
But when he first had the idea of the reusable rink liners, he thought ice rinks would be the early adopters.
“I was wrong,” Grumetza admits.
Instead it was curling clubs from all around the world who made his phone ring – clubs like the Green Bay Curling Club in Ashwaubenon, WI who installed the liners for the first time this season, becoming the first Wisconsin curling club to do so. In addition to further reducing their ice-building time, which is what they were looking to do, they found they’re also saving energy — and run time on their compressors. Their ice temps are higher and they’re running with thinner ice than they ever have before — down to about 3/4″ instead of 1 1/2″ like they used to. And the members are happy with the faster ice.
“Our floor is up to somewhere between 25.8° and 26°F, which is about 3°F warmer than ever before,” says Al Lawson. Lawson, together with Bill Rhyme are volunteers leading the club’s volunteer ice making crew. Like many curling clubs, the Green Bay Curling Club is volunteer-driven and runs without paid staff. But that doesn’t mean their ice-making knowledge or methods are anything less than top shelf.
“The sheets are giving us really good playing speeds,” says Lawson. We’ve got a much happier membership with a warmer rink house, and everyone is enjoying the faster ice,”
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
The sheets from Hack-to-Hack Solutions (for curling) and Goal-to-Goal Solutions (for ice arenas) are reusable and Grumetza’s earliest customers are well past a decade’s use. At the end of the season, his customers turn the chillers off and turn the brine settings higher to help with the quick melting of the ice. For the arenas, like Arctic Spas Recreation Complex, Grumetza says they’ll be able to accelerate the process by dry-shaving the ice with their ice resurfacer to get the level of the ice down to just above the logos.
Once the ice has melted, the water can be directed into drains with squeegees. And once the sheets are dry, they can be rolled up and stored — until the beginning of next season, when they can be brought out and rolled back into place.
Grumetza encourages forward-thinking from his customers in case of rules changes: Wayne Maclean’s sheets for his ice rink, for example, are white, with only the Town of Thorsby logo printed on them. The lines, dots and creases and additional logos are all stencils.
Back at the Green Bay Curling Club, they’re pleased to be done with ice paint once and for all.
“We are so ecstatic to know there will be no more white powder footprints tracked in this club after this season’s over,” says Lawson. “There won’t be any more powder, no more paint of any kind under or on our ice.”