Energy Efficiency Slap Shots: Ice Arena Upgrades In Minnesota Reduce Energy Consumption

This is so cool: In order to celebrate the start of hockey season, CERTs is launching a series about energy projects done in ice arenas around the state of Minnesota.

Ice arenas have a familiar place in many communities, but what is not often thought about is that they are some of the most energy-intensive buildings a city can own. This is simply because it takes a lot of energy to make ice and keep it frozen, especially when there are stands packed with cheering spectators and large ceiling lamps blazing down. By making changes such as lighting retrofits or installing building automation systems, sensors or ceiling insulation, energy use can be reduced in ways that make the building more efficient overall.

Making energy-efficiency improvements to an ice arena not only has the potential to save money, they also serve a large portion of a community. The arenas host hockey games, skating lessons and rent out ice time, but they also have a use in the warmer months hosting events such as conventions, graduations and proms. The projects we will include in this series are all projects that were at least partially funded by the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) through the Minnesota Department of Commerce. All of the stories reflect the drive come communities have had to address common concerns about saving energy, saving money, and helping their community.

Technologies to look out for in this series:

  • Automated HVAC Systems: These systems monitor the climate inside the building and act accordingly. A system can either be replaced or retrofitted with modern fixtures, but its usefulness comes from the control over energy use a building has. Heat pumps and air conditioners can be used to adjust the temperatures of a room according to what’s happening at the time. An advantage to an improved HVAC system is that they can be hooked up to building control system and controlled off site, so even if the facilities manager is not on the property, he or she can see exactly what is going on in the building. For example, the system can monitor the arena to ensure that the air stays cold during a game to protect the ice, but also makes sure that areas off the ice, like the bathrooms, are toasty. By constantly monitoring the temperature in various places in the building, facilities managers can save a lot of energy because they direct heat into room instead of trying to heat an entire building while keeping the rink frozen.


  • High Efficiency Fluorescent Lights: It is common to look up at the ceiling of an ice arena and see metal halide lamps shining down. Compared to fluorescent lights, they are energy hogs that give off more heat than light, effectively warming the surface of the ice, which then takes more power to stay frozen. The fluorescent lamps installed in many ice arenas cast a brighter, farther-reaching light and use a fraction of the energy as their metal halide counterparts, in addition to producing very little heat.
  • Ceiling Insulation: These are specialized ceiling panels that reflect the radiant energy from the sun that normally pass through an ice arena roof and onto the ice. By installing these panels, ice arenas can save their refrigeration systems from high loads.

Check out these energy-saving solutions and more in our Ice Arena series. We will cover ice arenas in Austin, Woodbury, Edina, Elk River and Burnsville to see the different steps they took to make energy efficiency a reality.

Other Local Government Energy Action Ice arena Stories:


About the Local Government Energy Action Series:

This year-long effort tells the stories of nearly 50 Minnesota municipalities, counties, and schools and the tangible results of their energy-saving efforts to inspire others to take their own actions. 

Local Government Energy Action is brought to you by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.

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