Ice rinks across the US fight enemy No. 1: En­ergy bills

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

A small com­mu­nity skat­ing rink that was once in dan­ger of fold­ing is work­ing on a long-term plan to elim­i­nate its big­gest sin­gle ex­pense — its en­ergy bill — by be­com­ing what its lead­ers be­lieve would be the coun­try’s first with no costs for electricity or heat­ing fuel. The plan in­cludes up­grad­ing the ex­ist­ing equip­ment at Wood­stock’s Union Arena for ef­fi­ciency, find­ing ways to re­use some of the heat gen­er­ated by the power-suck­ing com­pres­sors used to make ice and, fi­nally, buy­ing so­lar pan­els that will be erected else­where.

While the long-term plan to elim­i­nate the power bill, mak­ing the rink “net zero,” is in its early phases, the rink’s electricity con­sump­tion from early Novem­ber to early De­cem­ber was down 12.5 per­cent from the same pe­riod a year ago, said Harold May­hew, the pres­i­dent of the Union Arena Board of di­rec­tors and an ar­chi­tect who spe­cial­izes in skat­ing rinks. “If you can make a hockey rink a net zero build­ing, you can make any­thing net zero,” said May­hew, who de­signed the rink at Maine’s Bow­doin Col­lege, which opened in 2009 and be­came the na­tion’s first hockey rink to be cer­ti­fied by The Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign pro­gram, or LEED, that rates build­ings for their en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. En­ergy costs are typ­i­cally the largest bills for skat­ing rinks, which use huge amounts of electricity to run the equip­ment that makes and main­tains the ice used by hockey play­ers, fig­ure skaters and oth­ers, such as curlers . “Util­i­ties is what kills the rinks,” said Paul Moore, the chair­man of the Board of Gover­nors for Fal­mouth Youth Hockey in Mas­sachusetts and the coach of the Fal­mouth High School hockey team. He has worked to re­duce his fa­cil­ity’s elec­tric bill by in­stalling 4,400 so­lar pan­els on the roof and in a nearby park­ing lot that pro­duces just short of 1 megawatt of electricity, enough for about 164 homes.

Through a deal with a util­ity, the Fal­mouth fa­cil­ity is guar­an­teed for 10 years an $85,000 a year sav­ings on its elec­tric bill, but it’s not down to zero. “This has been huge for us,” Moore said. “We’re a non­profit. The youth hockey or­ga­ni­za­tion owns the rink, so this al­lows us to con­tinue our mis­sion state­ment of keep­ing tu­ition low and keep­ing ice rates low.” Across the coun­try, rinks large and small are al­ways look­ing for ways to save en­ergy and there­fore money, said Kevin McLaugh­lin, the se­nior di­rec­tor of hockey de­vel­op­ment at USA Hockey, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that over­sees most youth hockey pro­grams in the coun­try.

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