Many of the ideas that can save rinks money are just plain, common sense ideas.
Close the doors, keep the gates closed, turn off the faucets ALL THE WAY, switching off the lights when you’re the last one to leave the room — all of these are ideas that arena owners and operators can pass on to their ice making teams as well as the facility’s user groups to ask for help in reinforcement. Posters in and around the change rooms can help you get your message across — every bit of care your users show towards your facility will help your bottom line.
Some of those slogans are echoes of things our parents used to tell you when you were growing up (and they may well still do!) Others are connected to best practices for saving energy and others are just best practices.
Like “Keep the gates closed“. Not only are open gates a potential source for injuries, they’re a dividing barrier between different environmental zones in your arena: the ice zone (which is cold) and the spectator zone (which is warmer). As to the safety aspect of open gates, on one of the recent Coaches Corners, Don Cherry and Ron Maclean showed some examples of what open gates can do to players, and those results aren’t pretty. Some were even career ending, and no one wants that, at any level.
Internally, by taking care of the equipment the way it’s supposed to be taken care of will save money.
I know, I know that sounds basic and, bordering on the ridiculous, but the truth is that there are folks out there who don’t take care of their equipment the way they should. In the end, if the lesson does get done, it’s one that may be learned over time, the hard (and expensive) way.
A couple of months back, I talked to an ice arena owner who’d built it because his son loved hockey and there wasn’t a facility anywhere close to where they lived. To maintain the rink, he bought an electric ice resurfacer which they started using when they opened their doors, over 15 years ago.
When he told me that, I was impressed with their carbon-footprint reducing vision. “Wow!” I said. “That was pretty forward thinking for a rink in the year 2000!” I told him. “How many batteries has it been through since then?”
In fact, that was THE biggest question I could have asked, which shows the kind of problems that can arise if you don’t take care of your equipment properly. In just over 15 years, they’d been through 5 sets of batteries changes which was at least one set more than they should have been through if they’d taken better care of their batteries. In retrospect, with set number three on order, it was found they never followed the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining their resurfacer’s battery life properly.
He went on, perfectly blunt with their best practice oversight. Yes, he explained, they’d been told how to maintain them, had instructions too and visits from sales reps who talked about what they should be doing, but they hadn’t put the procedures in place to make sure the best practices were followed as they should be. Not until their battery-buying-habit started to be a nasty line item in their budget, that is. And that’s when they started to look closer at how important it was to take proper care of their equipment.
That’s just one example, but one that facility managers can probably shake their head slowly at, and feel proud knowing that they did it the right way from the start, dodged a bullet (even if they hadn’t done it right from the start) or, like the owner above, learned the hard way.
When the City of Burlington, Ontario developed an energy reduction competition amongst eight of its arenas, they found that because the focus of their workshops was around the equipment and controls that had been implemented in the different rinks, the operators, too, began to focus more on the equipment. And with that focus a surprising side effect.
Here’s an excerpt from Tools of Change, where you can find details of their two-month, 8 arena competition:
Another benefit was that staff maintained the arena equipment better, increasing its useful life, further reducing energy and GHG emissions, and minimizing the large capital costs associated with equipment replacement. An unexpected result was that facility comfort levels actually improved.
See what they did, and how you could mimic their competition, here.