Ice rink facilities share all the same concerns: energy usage, operating costs and indoor climate. Ice rink design and operation are totally unique and differ in many ways from standard buildings. Thermal conditions vary from -5 ºC on the ice surface to +10 ºC in the stand and +20 ºC in the public areas like dressing rooms and offices.
High humidity of indoor air will bring on corroding problems with steel structures, decay in wooden structures and indoor air quality problems like fungi and mould growth etc. Obviously there are special needs to have technical building services to control the indoor climate and energy use of an ice-rink facility. Advanced technology can reduce energy consumption by even 50 % and thus decrease operating costs in existing and proposed ice rink facilities while improving the indoor climate.
Energy costs and concern about the environment sets high demands for the technical solutions, without effective solutions the operational (energy, maintenance, replacement) costs will increase and short service life time of such a system is expected from the environmental point of view. Potentially a lot of savings can be made if the facilities are got operating as energy-efficiently as possible. This will require investment in energy-saving technology and in raising energy awareness on the part of ice rink operators.
The basic technical elements of a well-working
• Insulated walls and ceiling
• Efficient refrigeration plant
• Mechanical ventilation
• Efficient heating system
• Air dehumidification
1) Insulated walls and ceiling makes it possible to control the indoor climate regardless of the outdoor climate.
In an open-air rink the operation is conditional on the weather (sun, rain, wind) and the running costs are high.
Depending of the surroundings there might also be noise problems with the open-air rink – traffic noise may trouble the training or the slamming of the pucks against the boards may cause noise nuisance to the neighbourhood.
Ceiling only construction helps to handle with sun and rain problems but may bring about maintenance problems in the form of ”indoor rain“: humid air will condensate on the cold inner surface of the ceiling and the dripping starts. The ceiling is cold because of the radiant heat transfer between the ice and the ceiling i.e. the ice cools down the inner surface of the ceiling. Though there are technical solutions to minimize the indoor rain problem (low emissive coatings) the ceiling only solution is still subjected to weather conditions and high running costs.
2) The refrigeration plant is needed to make and maintain ice on the rink.
Refrigeration plant includes the compressor(s), the condenser(s), the evaporator(s), and rink pipes. The heat from the rink is ”sucked“ by the compressor via the rink pipes and the evaporator and then released to the surrounding via the condenser.
The heat from the condenser can be used to heat the ice rink facility and thus save considerably energy and money. Refrigeration plant is the main energy consumer in the ice rink facility. Compressors, pumps and fans needed in the refrigeration system are normally run by electricity and their electricity use may cover over 50 % of the total electricity use of an ice rink facility.
3) Mechanical ventilation is necessary to be able to control the indoor air quality and thermal as well as humidity conditions inside the ice rink.
Ventilation is needed both in the public spaces (dressing rooms, cafeteria,etc.) and in the hall. If you ever have visited a dressing room when the ventilation is off you will realize the necessity of the proper ventilation; the stink of the outfit of the hockey players is unthinkable. Inadequate ventilation will cause also health problems in the hall. To be energy- efficient air renewal must be well controlled.
This means that the ice rink enclosure should be airtight so that there are no uncontrollable air infiltration through openings (doors etc.) and roof-to-wall joints. Air infiltration will in-crease energy consumption during the warm and humid seasons related to refrigeration and dehumidification and during the cold seasons this is associated with space heating. This leads us to the fourth basic demand: the ice rink facility must be heated. Unheated ice rink is freezing cold even in warm climates and humidity control of the air becomes difficult.