Ice arenas, which offer significant climate control challenges, represent some of the most energy-intensive buildings a city can operate. The process of making ice takes a lot of energy, as does keeping the ice at a consistently frozen temperature all while ensuring that cheering spectators remain comfortable without overheating active, sweating players.

The rinks, which are typically used day and night, year-round, need to be able to maintain consistent and comfortable temperatures all while quickly adapting from conditioning a nearly vacant space to hosting capacity crowds.

Rocky River

The Hamilton Ice Arena at the Rocky River Recreation Center, Cleveland, serves the city’s residents including high school hockey players, school children, and senior citizens, and hosts a regional hockey program that serves more than 400 players from Rocky River and the surrounding communities. The local high school team finished second in Ohio’s high school Final Four tournament in 2012, after participating in the tournament for the first time in three decades.

The ice rink and arena needed attention. The existing lighting dated back to the rink’s 1970 construction. Illumination proved so poor that any newly installed lights left a “halo” on the rink. Players found it difficult to see the puck — and the lack of illumination made it even more challenging for spectators to follow the puck. Inconsistent heating left warm and cool spots within the arena and warmth over the rink made events uncomfortable for the players who needed less heating to counteract their high activity levels.

A First-Class Rink

City leaders wanted to offer a first-class rink that would meet current users’ needs and even draw new residents to the city. Rocky River competes with surrounding communities to maintain and expand its population. Improving the lighting and the heating and ventilation could generate significant energy savings which could then be invested back into making improvements in the rink.

City leaders worked with Gardiner Trane to analyze a city-wide facilities energy audit, which identified potential for savings throughout city buildings. Given the prospective savings that could be gained from improving the lighting and HVAC in the ice arena, and the significant role that the arena plays in the lives of the city’s current and potential residents, city leaders decided to update the Hamilton Ice Arena first.

Radiant Comfort

Improvements included installing four efficient gas-fired radiant heaters, primarily over the stands and the area where residents put on their skates for the rink’s all skate sessions. The previous heating system left the area over the rink uncomfortably warm for skaters and players. The new system greatly improved the comfort for ice rink participants and spectators.

Monitoring Efficiency

To properly ventilate the space, two CO2 sensors were added to monitor CO2 levels in the space to indicate when to ventilate. When the sensor indicates the need for ventilation, outside air is increased as needed.

Separate controls allow the rink facilities team — and Gardiner Trane, at the city’s request — to remotely control the gas-fired radiant heaters and ventilation. Operation of the heaters is reduced during unoccupied times. The Web-based monitoring system, which tracks and controls operation of the gas-fired heating ventilation units, includes remote access and local overrides.

City leaders anticipate that the improvements will save up to 20 percent in annual energy costs while improving lighting and occupant comfort for players, skaters, and spectators.

Upgraded Lighting

Major improvements included replacing 45 metal halide light fixtures using a six-tube fixture with GE T5 lights in the arena to increase the clarity and quality of light and save energy. The new GE lights offer double the life expectancy of the previous lights while requiring an investment of nearly 50 percent less per bulb. More importantly, the new bulbs transformed the ability for both players and spectators to see in the arena, removing halos and dark spots and leaving the rink atmosphere clear, clean, and crisp in appearance. The profile of the new lighting fixtures, which is located closer to the ceiling, eliminates the puck interference that they experienced with the old fixtures.

“These lights are absolutely fabulous,” said Christopher Mehling, recreation director for the city of Rocky River. “They’ve brightened the whole arena and given it a whole new look overall — it’s just clean. Previously, the rink atmosphere was so dark that people entering the rink commented on it. Now, when anyone comes into the arena, the first thing they comment on is how bright the facility looks and how fabulous it looks overall.”

More in Store

Administrators are so pleased with the results at the recreation center that they plan to undertake similar improvements at the city’s civic center, another key building that serves both local residents and surrounding communities.

Information provided courtesy of Trane. For more information, visit

Publication date: 1/20/2014 

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