Arena’s future brighter with energy efficiency upgrades

The Town of Quispamsis is one of New Brunswick’s fastest growing Towns and, like many communities around the province; it is exploring ways to upgrade the energy efficiency of its municipal buildings to reduce energy costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the first buildings the Town focused on was its nearly 30-year-old arena. The Quispamsis Memorial Arena was built in 1982 and operates with ice half the year, from the beginning of October to the beginning of April. When the ice is removed the facility offers a venue for other recreational activities such as lacrosse and various community events.

Work at the arena began several years ago, beginning with an energy audit in 2006. The audit identified several upgrades that could raise the level of energy efficiency, as well as improve the experience for the thousands of users participating in on and off-ice activities each year.

Facilities Manager Debbie Allen said gaining the support to follow through on the upgrades was not difficult. “We identified the potential and we got the support easily. Our Town administrator is a champion for energy efficiency so, it was an easy case to make,” said Allen.

Implementing Energy Efficiency Measures
Using its audit report to guide the arena upgrades, the Town sought the professional services of Murdock & Boyd Architects and Ralph Smith Engineering for a ceiling design and lighting redesign. They began by installing a roof membrane in the summer of 2006. This membrane helps keep the heat out and is especially effective at the beginning and end of the ice season to lessen the load on the cooling plant when the outside temperature is warmer in the fall and early spring.

In the fall of 2006 the Town brought in a new ice plant controller that uses an infrared camera system to detect ice temperatures and to automatically adjust temperatures as necessary based on the needs of users.
The next year the focus shifted to a complete lighting retrofit. The Town replaced office lights, as well as ice surface perimeter lighting, with high performance T8s which reduced electrical costs and, with their longer lamp life, also reduced replacement costs. They also replaced incandescent exit lighting with LED exit lights.

Above the ice surface, the high pressure sodium lights were replaced with high performance T5 lights that resulted in gains in energy efficiency and also provided a brighter light and better colour in the arena.

The Town also installed a low emissivity (low e) ceiling which reduces radiant heat transmission from the ceiling to the ice surface, again saving energy by lessening the load on the cooling plant. A secondary benefit of the low e ceiling is that it reflects light which further contributes to higher illumination levels at the ice surface.

Challenges and Benefits

The Town invested about $95,000 in the energy efficiency upgrades which will result in an annual projected energy savings of 406 GJ (approximately 113,000 kWh/year) or $9,400. Town facilities staff also worked with Efficiency NB through its Energy Smart Commercial Buildings Retrofit Program and received $4,070 in incentives toward the cost of the upgrades. The Energy Smart Program provides financial incentives of up to $3,000 towards an evaluation to determine the potential for energy efficiency upgrades in a commercial building and a maximum of $50,000 towards the energy retrofitting project costs.

The reduced energy consumption has also lowered greenhouse gas emissions from the arena by an estimated 90 tonnes or the equivalent of taking 15 cars off the road for one year.

Users of the facility are especially thrilled with the lighting upgrades. Gone is the yellow light cast over the ice surface by the high pressure sodium lamps that groups once dealt with.

Deborah Lawton is the President of the Quispamsis Figure Skating Club which has approximately 100 skaters. “For years parents have been trying to photograph and videotape their children and the result was always terrible picture quality,” said Lawton. A few years ago the club hosted champion Brian Orser and hoped to be gain some media attention, but when the television camera person came he told her they just couldn’t make it work because of the lighting. “Now,” she says, “it’s great. The light is a nice white light and with the new ceiling it is just so much brighter and more pleasant to be in here.” Parents are pleased too and taking lots of great photos!

The hockey players are also happier. “The quality of lighting has improved dramatically,” said Darren Zwicker, President of the Kennebecasis Valley Minor Hockey Program. “The new lights are white and provide a nice natural light and when coupled with the low e ceiling, brighten the playing surface dramatically.”

Next Steps

The improvements at the Quispamsis Memorial Arena have attracted the attention and interest of several other rinks around the province and Allen often hosts visitors interested in following their lead.

With most of the arena upgrades complete the Town of Quispamsis continues to explore opportunities for improved efficiency at its other Town buildings. Allen says that staff at Efficiency NB was very helpful in the planning and implementation phases of their arena upgrades and is consulting on several energy efficiency projects throughout the Town.