City National Arena is the practice facility and team headquarters of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Opened in the fall of 2017, the 146,000-square-foot building is located in Summerlin, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, and features everything from sports medicine facilities and a player’s lounge, to a restaurant and team store. The facility’s two ice rinks, each with 600 seats, are open to all ages and levels, with daily programming 17 hours a day, year round, making it a major hub for recreational and youth hockey in the area. It’s also home to the University of Nevada (UNLV) Rebels hockey program.
Because of the volume of visitors and calibre of ice required, the organization wanted a system it could count on that provided the best ice quality, ran on a sustainable natural refrigerant and had the lowest operating costs, says Director of Operations, Jeremy Brant. “In the past I worked at an arena with a synthetic system—we couldn’t rent the second sheet of ice during college games because the system could not keep up, which was a loss of revenue for the building.” Brant says a system that prioritized energy efficiency was also important. He learned about the Eco Chill’s heat recovery technology earlier in his career. “The first time I saw one in action was in Lockport, NY, where the facility was using the waste heat from the system to warm the sidewalks, which meant the staff saved time by not having to shovel snow.”
"The Eco Chill is a popular topic for the Vegas Golden Knights organization because of its consistent performance, and the annual operational savings it provides.”
- Jeremy Brant, Director of Operations, City National Arena
The facility installed a full Eco Chill package, with two Eco Dry units that provide 100 percent of the dehumidification. The system runs on ammonia, which is climate-friendly with zero Global Warming Potential. “With an ammonia-based system, it’s there when I need it to perform during the warmest times of the year,” says Brant, who also likes the safety aspect of ammonia. “Refrigerants are all dangerous, but with a synthetic refrigerant, if there is a leak, it’s odorless, which can put the staff in an unsafe situation. With ammonia you can smell it, rather than relying on a light or another indicator that may not always work. Because of this, I believe the staff respects the system more.”
“We have experienced zero issues with the Eco Chill system,” says Brant. The arena’s air quality is conditioned using the cold and warm glycol from the Eco Dry units, and despite the traffic and demands on the facility, maintaining a professional quality sheet of ice for the Vegas Golden Knights practices isn’t ever a problem. “Even with elite players and a high load on the facility during our showcase tournaments, it can hold the ice all day, all year long.” The first summer the facility was open in 2018: it was 115°F (46 degrees Celsius) outside and City National was hosting a big event. The Eco Chill was able to accommodate the load and they were able to maintain 72°F (22 degrees Celsius) temperature in the building, while keeping the ice in top condition. “The ability to tie the HVAC into the ice rink controls is crucial to the building's success.”
Using waste heat has translated into energy savings for the facility. They use the waste heat for underfloor heating, and the snow melt pit. They pull cold glycol from the system and send it to the cold tub for the player’s Jacuzzi, and use cold and warm glycol to condition the air in the arena.
Because refrigeration makes up over 40 percent of the operating costs of the building, the savings from the Eco Chill system are significant, says Brant. “Operationally, we are saving 20 to 30 percent per month compared to synthetic refrigeration systems I have worked with.” They condition the water from 70°F to 95°F (21 to 35 degrees Celsius); preheating the water saves a lot of money on gas during the season as they only need to make up 25°F (- 3.9 degrees Celsius), using the boilers instead of 55°F (13 degrees Celsius). “The key is to ensure you have the coordination between all the mechanical systems to ensure you maximize the potential savings and efficiency of the system,” says Brant. “The decision a facility makes about the refrigeration system should be based on the lifetime, not the upfront cost of the system,” he says. “On the surface the Eco Chill may seem like a lot of money, but getting the savings back within five years on the cost difference is the key.”
Convenience + Customer service
Brant says that the Eco Chill’s remote capabilities are a game changer. Because Brant travels offsite to oversee other facilities, he appreciates a system he can monitor remotely. “I am able to see the system at all times, and being able to receive real time notifications is extremely helpful,” he says. The team finds the computer program easy to read and very user friendly, and considers it an excellent learning tool that provides insights to the overall health of the system. They also appreciate the free training tools for staff who are not knowledgeable with refrigeration. “Having the support of CIMCO and the local team has been huge for us.”
Vegas Golden Knights winning the C
larence S. Campbell Bowl