Dick Walter is director of facilities management at the University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware; he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is his first article for Facilities Manager.
The University of Delaware operates two indoor ice rinks. The Gold Ice Arena was built in 1971 and has an ice surface of 16,427 square feet. The mechanical systems were the original 30-year-old equipment. The Rust Ice Arena was built in 1988 and has an ice surface of 18,732 square feet.
The mechanical systems were the original 13-year-old equipment. The design of the equipment in this arena was marginal, as it was part of a low-cost design build project. The mechanical systems in the Gold Ice Arena had reached the end of their useful life and needed immediate replacement to prevent significant maintenance outages.
The Fred Rust Ice Arena and the Gold Ice Arena are home to the university's Ice Skating Science Development Center, a year-round training facility designed to meet the needs of first-time competitors and Olympic champions alike. Its primary goal is to assist athletes and coaches in reaching their maximum potential. The center, housed in state-of-the-art facilities, provides the most complete training environment in the United States. Training facilities include two ice surfaces, strength and aerobic training rooms and a dance studio. Coaching is available from the most recognized national and international coaches in the sport of figure skating.
The University of Delaware is also home to the University Club Hockey team, the four-time defending ECHA Champions.
The ice arenas also offer a wide range of skating and hockey programs to fit everyone's skating ability. Community Class and Basic Badge programs are designed for the beginning and intermediate skater, and the Junior Blue Hen Hockey Program offers instruction on basic skating and hockey skills.
The ice arenas also offer public skating sessions throughout the year, host national and world send-off ice skating exhibitions, and are available for rental groups.
The two ice rinks consumed in an average year 5,084,150 kilowatt hours of electricity and 10,638 thousand cubic feet of natural gas, for an annual cost of $384,727. We realized that there would be an opportunity to greatly reduce these costs, improve the quality of the ice, and replace some outdated equipment. Unfortunately, capital was not directly available to finance this major project.
We contacted the local utility, Conectiv, and asked them to develop a proposal to provide a fixed price project with guaranteed annual energy savings for a ten-year period. Two financial alternates were considered to finance this proposal: the first would have Conectiv providing the funds and recouping their investment and interest from the guaranteed savings; the second being the university borrowing the investment and paying it back over ten years with the savings. The second alternate was chosen.
The required investment was $1,350,000 and the guaranteed savings were 1,578,440 kilowatt hours of electricity and 3,784 thousand cubic feet of natural gas. The first full year of operation saw electrical consumption reduction of 1,721,400 kwh (109 percent of the guarantee) and 5,845 cubic feet of gas (154 percent of the guarantee). The savings are based on the meters that serve the buildings with no artificial adjustments. The consumption is also monitored using the ENERWISE Platform by Enerwise Global Technologies, Inc.
The project consisted of several mechanical upgrades and technological improvements. Some of these items include:
- New high-efficiency chillers specifically designed for ice arenas were installed in each facility. The waste heat from the chillers is pumped through a snow melt coil to melt the ice that the Zambonis remove from the ice rinks during the hourly resurfacing process. Previously, hot water was made to melt this ice. In the chiller rooms new ASHRAE mandated refrigerant leak detection and exhaust systems were also installed.
- Any heat that is left in the condenser water is then removed in new cooling towers, which have variable frequency drives on the fans to minimize use of electric power.
- Previously the water used for making ice initially and for the resurfacing was city water. A new RO (reverse osmosis) process was installed in each facility to create deionized water which requires less energy to freeze and creates a clearer better ice surface for skating. Hot water is used in the resurfacing process and new high- efficiency hot water generators were installed.
- The chiller controls, ice temperature settings, and building HVAC systems were previously all localized systems that were not integrated. The project combined these into one integrated direct digital control (DDC) system tied into the university building automation system via the university ethernet. These controls improve the quality of the conditions as well minimizes the use of energy. This also alerts maintenance of any equipment issues before they start to impact the quality of the ice skating surface or building environment.
- Sophisticated ice temperature monitoring systems were installed to give direct feedback to the chillers through the building automation system. This allows easy changes in the ice temperature to satisfy varied client needs. Typically figure skating is done on a different temperature ice than hockey. It also allows the temperature of the ice to be increased automatically during periods that the ice is not being used, thus reducing energy consumption.
- The larger ice arena had a dehumidification system installed to improve the environment in the arena as well as reduce the energy required to maintain the temperature in the building.
- Building heating systems were upgraded in both arenas. In the smaller arena new high-efficiency hot water generators for building heat were installed. In the larger arena the building heating system was completely changed to a series of gas-fired radiant heaters over the areas surrounding the ice. This system is required only when ambient temperature is below approximately 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It directs the heating to spectator areas, dramatically improving spectator comfort. Controls are in place to prevent the system from being used when ambient conditions do not require it to be used.
- Lighting in both arenas has been HID lighting and was not touched. All of the lighting in offices, locker rooms, restrooms, and hallways had the lighting upgraded to T8 technology, and motion sensors were installed to prevent wasting energy.
- All of these installations have been commissioned and work at least as well as the design assumptions. They have dramatically improved the physical quality of the ice surface and the environment in the building as well as reducing the consumption of energy. It also eliminated the significant un-funded deferred maintenance issue in the Gold Ice Arena.
- As a result of our upgrades, Jim Kaden, the manager of the ice arenas, is very pleased with the improvements of the ice and the environment of both ice arenas. In addition, Ron Ludington, a former Olympic medal winner who is our director of the ice skating programs, is very impressed with the improvement in the quality of the ice.