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Heat Report: Ice Ice, Baby

The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) got a whole lot greener this summer. Through an initiative including numerous contractors, the Abbotsford Heat and the AESC, the Heat will be playing on an ice surface made entirely of rainwater. The new rainwater collection and purification system was designed, built and installed over the summer, and will save up to 830,000 litres of water each season. The system will save taxpayers approximately $3,000 per year, and will pay for itself in just over eight years.

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By Sean Evans (The Cascade) – Email

Date Posted: October 6, 2011
Print Edition: October 5, 2011

The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) got a whole lot greener this summer. Through an initiative including numerous contractors, the Abbotsford Heat and the AESC, the Heat will be playing on an ice surface made entirely of rainwater. The new rainwater collection and purification system was designed, built and installed over the summer, and will save up to 830,000 litres of water each season. The system will save taxpayers approximately $3,000 per year, and will pay for itself in just over eight years.

Dean Barrett, of Barr Plastics, led the way in developing and installing the system this past summer. Speaking with The Cascade, Barrett explained the process of retrofitting this system into the AESC: “It was a real collaborative effort between the parties: Scott (Currie), the ice manager, and the rest of the contractors to figure out how to put the system together. It was a bit of a challenge…but everything fell into place nicely.” Barrett then went on to explain the filtration system, using a series of big, complicated words. When he came to the end of the explanation, he simply stated that; “theoretically, it can be pretty much classified as bottled water at the end of the system.”

Having the system installed, it fell on Scott Currie, with his duty as manager of the ice plant, to begin to use the revolutionary system: “When starting something new, you have to be prepared for any eventualities that may come about, but there really isn’t much difference between using city water and rainwater.” The only difference appears to be a small, aesthetic change. “You notice the clarity; when it freezes there is no film that builds up on the top of the ice and it’s just a clearer, dryer looking sheet,” Currie said.

The question remains, however, will the environmentally-friendly ice surface be good for hockey? Currie made it clear that it would be. He said the only difference was that instead of removing impurities, such as chlorine and magnesium, from city water, the rainwater is filtered and ready to use. The ice will be the same, just friendlier to both the environment and the cheque book.

Jason Blumenfeld, General Manager of the AESC, stated it simply: “We’ll save money…It saves money because we’re not pulling water from the city system.” Along with saving water, the system will also save energy, as Dean Barrett explained: “We’re actually going to experience more energy savings than water savings.” The system, he said, requires less heating for the ice-making process.

This project, the first of its kind, is groundbreaking in that it shows the potential for professional sports teams to work towards sustainability, while saving money. Look for more green initiatives like this one to follow.

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