Braemar Arena efficiency renovations keep Edina rink dry, cool, and smooth

Hockey is big in Edina. The town rallies around the sport and its facilities—giving their support to the teams, sending their kids to the ice arena for lessons, and going out on weeknights to watch games. It’s no surprise that the members of the Edina Hockey Association were excited about improving the Braemar Ice Arena with their city’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG).

The city received the EECBG funds in 2009 through the U. S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The purpose of the EECBG program was to create or retain jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce energy use. The EECBG funding, matched with utility rebates and a strong expected payback, made the project cost-effective.

The Braemar Arena used the funds to purchase two new dehumidification units for the east and west ice rinks. The energy efficient dehumidifiers have the capacity to reduce the air-conditioning refrigeration system load by 30-40%. Dehumidification units result in energy savings by replacing the inefficient dehumidification process that is already performed by the refrigeration system. While the refrigeration system can only marginally dehumidify the arena, a system devoted entirely to dehumidifying the facility does a much more thorough job.

With the new dehumidifiers, the refrigeration system no longer has to work as hard, and the dehumidification process is more effective. This component is essential during the warmer months when humidity is high, causing the refrigeration system to underperform. Without the dehumidifier, there can be a lot of fog in the rink and condensation on the windows and seats, causing stalagmites, mold spores, and even big puddles on the arena floors.

Before the new dehumidification unit installation, these issues posed a safety hazard to guests, required more labor to address, and resulted in a poorer quality rink for skaters. Doug Bauman, Operations Manager for the Braemar Arena, stated: “The arena no longer has condensation problems, and arena guests have reported that the rink is more comfortable to skate in or to sit and watch a game.” Improved comfort, along with labor and energy savings, have made the project successful.

The new dehumidifiers not only provide energy savings through a reduction of the refrigeration system load, but also through heating costs. The dehumidifiers on the east and west wings provide waste heat through everyday operation, which is used to heat other areas of the building, allowing the arena to spend less money on heating as well. “The boiler hardly ever runs now,” Bauman explained. The EECBG dehumidifier installation also provided arena and city staff an excellent impetus to complete other energy efficiency projects in the arena such as lighting retrofits and applying new sealant to weatherize the building and prevent energy loss.

The new project has not been in place long enough to predict long-term energy savings. According to Bauman, however, the project is still cost-effective: “While we can’t fully predict the overall energy and cost savings of the projects, the comfort and safety benefits have already made it well worth it.”

With several projects lined up for the future, efficiency efforts at the Braemar Arena are not yet finished. The facility is already undergoing an expansion to include a pro shop, new rooms for ice resurfacers, locker rooms, and another training facility. When asked whether energy efficiency would be considered for the expansion, Doug Bauman stated, “Definitely. Energy savings factor into every decision we make now, and we are trying to make the new facility cost-effective and energy efficient.”

For more information, contact Ross Bintner by email at [email protected], or call 952-903-5713.

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