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May 05, 2017

Another Way to Go Green: Synthetic Ice Rinks

At a time when everyone is going green, why not take it to the ice, as well?

Water is our single most precious resource, yet, due to decades of misuse and wastefulness, many parts of the world are seeing major water shortages. And with less than 1% of the world’s water being drinkable, steps need to be taken to preserve as much of this vital resource as possible.

One highly effective and economic way to conserve water is to choose synthetic ice rinks over conventional, water-based rinks.

Synthetic, or artificial, ice has been around for decades. Although criticized early on, fake ice has come a long way in the last 10 years. Hockey players, figure skaters and ice skaters alike, agree that, today, the experience of skating on an artificial surface is quite comparable to that of skating on a real sheet of ice.

Recently Artificial Ice Events supplied the synthetic ice arena for the Tourism British Columbia Olympics 2010 Preview Party. The event featured performances from world class and Olympic figure skaters.

Heidi Vanderhoof, USFSA gold medalist and professional ice show star stated “it was by far the best synthetic ice I have ever skated on and I was able to do everything on this ice that I do on real ice”.

If it’s good enough for a professional skater, it’s good enough for anyone, right?

Synthetic ice is becoming so popular that numerous rinks around the nation are choosing it over natural, water-based rinks. Rather than wasting water, electricity and manpower, it’s sensible to take the synthetic ice route.

For those unaware of exactly how synthetic ice works, the Artificial Ice Events website describes the product like this:

“Our synthetic ice consists of a unique plastic polymer that best resembles the consistency of the world’s largest white cutting board. Our outdoor, indoor, and anywhere ice skating rinks are fitted together like a giant jigsaw puzzle in 4’ × 8’ synthetic ice sheets. We then treat the ice panels with a lubricating solution that reduces contact friction and enhances the glide and speed of the skating experience.”

Aside from water conservation, there are other great benefits to synthetic ice:

  • It’s much less expensive to install and maintain.
  • It has great versatility. It can literally be installed just about anywhere.
  • It requires very low maintenance.
  • It helps to conserve not only water, but also electricity.

Save Yourself Some Money

Not only is a synthetic ice rink cheaper to install than a regular rink, the upkeep is also much less expensive. When water is used, a lot of electricity is required in order to keep the rink at freezing temperatures. But with synthetic ice, no refrigeration is needed at all. This obviously results in drastically lower electricity bills.

On average, refrigeration costs for a water based 85’ × 185’ indoor ice rink are approximately $5000-$7000 per month.

Those electricity costs are completely eliminated by installing a synthetic ice rink. Try and find a business who wouldn’t want to save $5000 every month.

Versatility: Indoor and Outdoor Rinks

If a flat surface is present, a synthetic ice rink can be built. End of story. A synthetic rink can be made to fit any size space. It can be built and maintained indoors or outdoors and at any temperature. These rinks don’t require air conditioned buildings or elaborate facilities. This cuts down on labor costs and uses less of our world’s limited resources.

The artificial rinks are also portable. This makes them ideal for say, traveling skating exhibitions. And the installation and tear-down times are just a few short hours.

Low Maintenance

When dealing with a water-based rink, a lot of upkeep in required. Not only does the ice need to be cleaned and scraped regularly, an intricate piping system is also necessary. In order to keep the ice surface at its desired 16 degrees, approximately 10 miles of piping is used. Glycol, or anti-freeze, is chilled by compressors and flows continuously through the pipes 24 hours a day. It’s quite the intricate set-up.

Save on Electricity

As previously mentioned, water conservation is a huge benefit of synthetic ice rinks. But water is not the only resource being conserved. Because no refrigeration is needed to keep water frozen, the use of electricity is also greatly reduced.

And no one saves more in this department than states like Florida, California, Texas, Nevada and Arizona. Rather than air conditioners working overtime to preserve natural ice in 100 degree temps, air conditioners aren’t even needed when synthetic ice is used.

Also unnecessary is the use of a Zamboni to resurface the ice. Not only do Zambonies use additional water to help in the resurfacing process, but they run on any number of carbon-based fuels such as propane, natural gas, electricity or gasoline. Again, the use of these resources is avoided when opting for a synthetic ice rink.

Why Make the Switch?

With many companies making synthetic ice rinks readily available, there’s truly no logical reason to continue wasting valuable resources in order to create water-based rinks. In preparing a regulation size ice rink for a hockey game, 15,000 gallons of water is needed. Then consider all the power used to refrigerate the ice and the fuel resources used to fuel the Zamboni for upkeep.

That’s a whole lot of water, electricity and fuel wasted. Synthetic ice rinks give towns, businesses, and individuals the choice to Go Green while saving substantial budget dollars.

About the Author

Mike Gallant is the owner of Artificial Ice Events, LLC and a veteran competitive speed skater. Mike has combined his skating history with years of event planning experience to build a company that covers every aspect of synthetic ice rink construction and management. The company website at www.artificialiceevents.com has extensive information about synthetic ice rinks and special event planning.