From what I’ve heard from various rinks around Alberta, next week is going to be a very busy week for many ice makers. Les Quinton from the Town of Black Diamond, AB says his plant will be starting up on Monday and by Wednesday, he expects they’ll be putting in their lines and logos at the Oilfields Regional Arena (ORA).

Which is a shame, really. Okay, I’m being selfish when I say that — I don’t really mean that.

It’s a shame because the AARFP – the Alberta Association of Recreation and Facility Personnel – will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday, August 12th at 10:00 on REALice floodwater treatment technology. Black Diamond has been using REALice to treat their floodwater for a few years now, and Quinton, who heads a team of ice makers (as opposed to ice cleaners) would have been a valuable contributor to the panel that’s being assembled. (If you would like to join the webinar, click here to register, or click here to learn more). Everybody is welcome. You don’t need to be a member OR Canadian to join… If you’d like consistently better, dense clear ice then REALice is for you. But you’re going to have to be prepared to raise your brine settings (or slab, or surface) up 3-5F warmer than what you’re running with now. That can be scary, I know, but I will hold your hand as you do it. You may be sweating, but your ice won’t be…

Quinton had been on my mind yesterday. I made a trip to Bow Island, AB where they’ll be installing REALice in time for their start-up in mid-September, and en route, I saw a signpost for Black Diamond.

“Darnit,” I said to myself above whatever hockey game was playing on the Sirius’ NHL Network in my car. “It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to Les. I wonder how he is?”

Of course, mental telepathy being what it is, late yesterday afternoon, lo and behold, there was an email in my inbox from Les.

Back in 2014, I suggested to Les that he put the data on the Black Diamond rinks into Energy Star Canada, which is run by NRCAN (National Resources Canada). He did — but what happened next was rather surprising.

Black Diamond’s ORA was found to be very energy-efficient, indeed. It got a rating of 94/100.

This was so exciting. I was sure it had to be the highest rating of any arena in Canada, but there was a catch to getting it publicized. The data, which consisted of electric and natural gas consumption — had to be verified by either a professional engineer or an architect.

Black Diamond, a Town with a population of 2,700, wasn’t interested in paying for someone to verify that they were saving money. They already knew that.

This week, however, Quinton decided to update the data in the portfolio manager. It’s all unofficial, still (because of a lack of a stamp) but I’m proud to say the Oilfields Regional Arena has improved their arena’s efficiency by another 3.19% — to 97/100.

I feel confident that Black Diamond could be crowned the king of the Canadian ice castles if only they had their numbers verified. But since that’s not going to happen, I’m sharing it with you so you can know.

Energy Star's rating of Black Diamond's arena
It’s even more efficient now: Energy Star’s Summary of Black Diamond’s Oilfields Regional Arena


Of course, these numbers are nice with a lot of green — but there’s nothing that tells the story of what is behind them. The Oilfields Regional Arena is like a masterclass in #EE (energy efficiency) — there’s not a stone (equipment/building envelope/etc.) that’s been left unturned, from their integrated building controls from Guest Automation to their low-flow toilets and showers.

Quinton has been working on this arena since 1998, when the arena was already a decade old. He started, as you should, with the simpler things – like making sure no light was coming in from the outside. And then he determined what it is that he had, the life cycle and made a plan to always replace with the most energy-efficient version of it that he possibly could.

Energy Star Rating: 97/100 for a 32-Year-Old Arena

From 1988 to today — count it — the OLA is now turning 32. I’ve shown you pictures of the building before, it’s a steel quonset (read “BARN” in capital letters) that has been given a long life because it’s so energy efficient. You don’t need to have a brand new build to achieve what they’ve achieved at Black Diamond. But you need to have the energy to do it, to be consistent, and to track. Quinton, who is working on his succession plan for a 2023 retirement, does all of this. (I’m very interested in asset management for Recreation Facilities — stay tuned for more on this soon).

One of Black Diamond’s Energy Star numbers made me perk up my ears (or my eyes) and reminded me of another great, energy-efficient rink — Keene Ice in Keene, NH. The Oilfield Regional Arena’s Site EUI is 59.7 kBTU/ft2 – that’s the amount of heat AND electricity a buildings consumes as reflected in utility bills. When Keene Ice’s LEED-accredited engineer, Bill Root, put that arena’s data into Energy Star in the US-version of the program, it was found to be using 72 kBTU/ft2 – a number that Root, at the time, was certain was the lowest of all arenas in the USA’s Energy Star database.

Keene Ice, which is also a REALice customer, has the modular Ice3 Refrigeration System from Emerald Environmental as its ice plant (“Use It or Lose It!”). Implemented by Preferred Mechanical Services from Massachusetts, Keene Ice uses waste heat to heat all the dressing rooms and public areas of the rink, re-uses the snow from the snow melt pit for their cooling towers, has solar, a low-e ceiling (and the list goes on) — and is a brilliant example of public/private ventures. Keene Ice opened on July 20th, 2020 – Operations Manager and Hockey Director Bobby Rodrigue reached out just before to let me know the last ice building was available on Live Barn. I’m not able to share that with you, but take a look at their ice building from 2018.

Keene Ice’s ice-in in 2018

Have you put your data into Energy Star? If so, please let me know.