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Eco Chill: The Path to a Better Future

There is currently a national climate emergency in Canada. Although hockey is at the ice-hockeyvery heart of Canadian culture, arenas are energy intensive structures that damage the environment by emitting carbon dioxide. With 3,300 indoor hockey rinks populating the country in the 2018/19 season, there’s a dire need to look at making these buildings energy efficient as soon as possible. 

We need to understand how to make our energy work smarter and better. The technology to combat global warming caused by arenas already exists, but there has been a distinct lack of adopting it. Let’s take a look at how we can change this. 

The Big Picture 

The traditional approach to designing an arena is to understand what is being built and assembling individual systems to handle the requirements. When it comes to building and maintaining an ice sheet, the primary component is the refrigeration system. 

The very term ‘refrigeration system’ may bring to mind a cooling system, but in actuality the system removes heat from one location and moves it to another. Typically, heat is removed from the ice surface and released outdoors. At the same time, the facility uses and pays for a separate, external energy source (such as natural gas) to provide heat for the parts of the facility that require it. It’s an expensive and wasteful approach to heating and cooling an indoor hockey rink.

Giving GHG the Cold Shoulder

You need to consider both the global warming potential and thermal efficiency when choosing the type of refrigerant. The greenest options that have the lowest impact on the environment are ammonia (R717) and carbon dioxide (R744). New synthetic alternatives (HFCs) will defeat your goal of net0 as they all have higher global warming potential and lower thermal efficiency.

The CIMCO Solution

As part of our commitment to a cleaner and greener future, CIMCO created the Eco Chill system for ice rinks in 2004. The concept is to repurpose the energy that is removed from your ice sheet during operation and apply that energy to wherever you need heat within the building. The best source of energy is the energy you’ve already paid for.

Eco Chill requires one unit of energy - typically electricity - to move three units of heat from the arena floor. This means if you use the refrigeration system to generate heat, putting in a single unit of energy gives you four units of energy in return. Eco Chill works at a 400% efficiency level, lowering your operating costs.rec-suite-logos-ecochill

Integrating Eco Chill with the building’s HVAC system permits the use of the recovered heat for various purposes. Moreover, the Eco Chill system has the additional benefit of reduced refrigerant charge and leaks.

Some of the ways to reuse heat that would otherwise be wasted include: radiant floor heating, pool heating, gymnasium heating, zamboni water heating and preheating and potable water heating and preheating .

Moving to Net0 Emissions 


How will you use your building?

To move towards becoming a net0 facility, you need to repurpose energy instead of releasing it outward. This self-sufficiency works best for multi-purpose buildings. 

How do you design it? 

As you plan with your architects, designers, or consultants, make sure you try to reduce energy loads and design the building in the most energy-efficient manner possible.

Where are you using heat in the building?

The key to maximizing the waste heat is to ensure your designer is aware that all equipment must be designed for a supply temperature of 95°F. 

How will you control the systems?

Investing in a single automation system for the entire building is paramount to maximizing the use of recycled energy. The refrigeration system and building automation system must seamlessly exchange information for an optimized facility. 

The Cold Reality: Your Main Challenges

As your building comes together, you need to ensure that net zero emissions are a priority. Challenge your traditional procurement policies of accepting the lowest bid. Installing Eco Chill is a long-term investment in both your arena and the environment.

It’s easy to think that your rink is just one of many and won’t make a difference, but every single arena that adopts Eco Chill is a step towards a better future. As a society, we can make a change. We are ready to help you in your journey as we all strive to reach Net0. Are you willing to do your part?

By Mihi Joshi
Marketing Specialist, CIMCO