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North Vancouver's more sustainable ice skating solution feeds waste heat from ice to district heating system

By District Energy posted 03-08-2023 06:20




While some parts of Canada can expect a future where much of the winter is rainy and above-freezing, and are wondering how to prepare, that winter climate is already a reality in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

And yet, a few years ago, the City of North Vancouver decided to build its largest outdoor rink, right on the waterfront. How they built it could offer some ideas for other cities.

Mayor Linda Buchanan said the city wanted to draw people to its outdoor plaza in the Shipyards District all year round, even in the winter, and provide opportunities for activities where they could connect with other people outdoors. 

Karen Magnuson, the city's chief engineer, acknowledged that creating an outdoor skating rink in North Vancouver's temperate climate was challenging.

The rink was designed with a retractable roof to protect the ice from the sun and rain.

But a key strategy was to use a CO2 chiller to cool the system. Magnuson said it's "incredibly efficient" at removing heat from the ice via a web of pipes under the ice surface, compared to other kinds of refrigerants and refrigeration systems.

That efficiency is boosted even further by feeding waste heat removed from the ice into a local district heating system. That provides hot water and space heating to local buildings — enough to heat the equivalent of 43 homes — offsetting the use of natural gas.Magnuson said the result is the Shipyards rink is two-to-three times more efficient than a standard ice rink.

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