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C2 Centre’s ice goes green with innovative technology

The Bonnyville and District Centre has a new and greener way of making ice that utilizes new technology allowing for cold water to be used in creating hard ice surfaces at the facility’s arenas.
RealIcePhoto (1)
REALice valve was tied into the C2 Centre's existing piping system and is powered by water pressure alone. No modifications were necessary for the facility’s ice resurfacers to be compatible with the new valve. C2 Operators, Zamboni drivers Julius Pilapil & Albert Tacadena, showing the REALice device to Byron Johnson, C2 board chairperson and Town councillor.

BONNYVILLE – An essential amenity for most regions are its recreational centers, which often become the hub of a community. The Bonnyville and District Centennial Centre (C2) is no different.  

From a rock-climbing wall to a sports field house to a running track and up to three sheets of indoor ice operational at any given time, the C2 is always humming with activity. 

But, the costs of lighting, heating and cooling a facility so large is significant. 

An energy review of the MD of Bonnyville’s facilities by the former Municipal Energy Officer Joad Clement showed the C2 was consuming roughly half of all the energy being used by municipal buildings, including Kinosoo Ridge Resort, campgrounds and administrative buildings. 

“We are the elephant in the bathtub,” said Les Parsons, the general manager of the C2, while referring to the centre’s energy consumption. 

Several recommendations were made by Clement to reduce the energy consumption of MD buildings, save money over the long-term, and reduce the MD’s carbon footprint. One of those suggestions was to install a REALice device at the C2 Centre.  

The REALice valve was installed at the C2 at the end of July and has already decreased the amount of energy needed to flood and maintain the arenas’ ice.  

This has been achieved by switching from a hot-water application to a cold-water application for ice resurfacing, made possible with the new technology. 

The newly installed REALice device spins water like a tornado, relying on naturally occurring water pressure to remove even the smallest air bubbles – which is traditionally accomplished through heating water to high temperatures in a boiler, achieving the same effect. 

Removing air bubbles from cool water allows it to be used in the application of ice resurfacing while still creating hard, clear and fast ice that skaters and icemakers expect. 

“Instead of filling our Zambonis with extremely hot 71-degree Celsius water, the C2 is now flooding the arenas with cold 20-degree Celsius water,” Parsons explained. 

The C2 can use water straight from the tap without needing to heat it at all.  

“We just turned off one of our two huge boilers that makes super-hot water above the hockey rink. Now we're only using one boiler for the whole building,” explained Parsons. 

While fans and parents in the stands may not notice the difference, the players skating and the staff reviewing the facility’s electric and natural gas bills, surely will. 

“The University of Alberta is doing it and they have the Golden Bears hockey team. The Camrose Kodiaks in the AJHL, they have it. A lot of other facilities are going this route and it's a no brainer, you put cold water on cold ice. It's a win-win in every perspective,” he said. 

Because it takes less energy to freeze the cold water, less energy will need to be expended to keep the ice sheets cool.  

“This allows the chiller system (underneath the ice) to operate at a higher brine temperature, reducing the overall compressor time,” outlined information provided by the C2 Centre. 

The total cost of the REALice project was $38,941 and that investment is expected to be recovered in less than two years. 

C2 staff have also applied for a Municipal Climate Change Action Centre (MCCAC) rebate grant that falls under a Recreation Energy Conservation Program. 

The rebate is designed to financially assist municipally operated recreational facilities to retrofit buildings and cut emissions. The C2 qualified for a rebate of $20,000 for the purchase and installation of the REALice system. 

Each year, the C2 is expected to save more than $13,000 in gas and electricity costs as a result of the new device.  

“These numbers were crunched even before the recent increase in energy costs. So, it could pay for itself even sooner than that,” said Parsons. “In the facility, we have to be good stewards of the finances we have and good stewards of the facilities we have... We are doing our part.”

Jazmin Tremblay

About the Author: Jazmin Tremblay

Jazmin completed a minor in journalism at Hanze University in the Netherlands and completed her Communication Studies degree from MacEwan University with a major in journalism.
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