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St. Michael-Albertville Arena

When the St. Michael-Albertville School District 885 started the planning process for the new arena addition to the existing St. Michael-Albertville Ice Arena, they wanted the new facility to have an expanded lobby, spacious concessions area, more seating, increased opportunities for viewing, and other building amenities that enhance the users’ experience. But they also understood that in order for this facility to be economically successful for the next 25 or more years, they needed to maximize the energy efficiency of the largest electrical load in the facility, the refrigeration system.

The existing facility operated with R-22 refrigerant, which would no longer be manufactured after 2020, and had exceeded its expected life. Through a series of meetings, B32 walked the School District through the various options for synthetic and natural refrigerants, refrigeration equipment and materials, cost estimates, system efficiencies, etc. It wasn’t long before the selections were narrowed down to ammonia and CO2. The use of natural refrigerants would allow them to minimize energy use while maximize sustainability and being good stewards of the environment.

B32 Engineering Group pioneered the use of CO2 in the ice system industry in the United States in 2014, and shared their experiences with the School District. The School District quickly became interested in the CO2 and become more comfortable with its use after learning that Zero Zone, a local refrigeration system manufacturer, had extensive experience with CO2 in the Supermarket Industry. This combined local expertise solidified the decision for the School District to go with a CO2, indirect refrigeration system. To further increase the system efficiency, a common refrigeration system to serve both ice sheets was chosen after discussing the advantages and disadvantages of combined and individual systems. Other improvements, such as individual temperature for each ice sheet, a state of the art control system, increased flow rates to the existing ice rink floor, etc. aided in the overall results of maximizing energy efficiency, being good stewards to the environment, and producing excellence ice quality for the user groups.