Creating a world-class speed skating venue for the 21st Winter Olympics in 2010 is no easy feat. Creating that same venue and achieving a LEED Silver rating is in a class by its self. Trying to balance an environmentally responsible energy footprint with the exacting needs of a facility hosting the world’s highest level of athletic completion requires a fully integrated, stable and above all reliable system.
For the Richmond Speed Skating oval, our partner ESC Automation looked at the building as a whole taking into account every area of the facility and their effect on one another with an eye to ensuring the facility maintained both the high standards on the ice as well as minimizing the ecological impact the site would generate. Integrating 534 different components across the HVAC, lighting, gas detection and refrigeration systems including directional control for 354 individual jet nozzles serving the ice level and 48 lighting controllers into a fiber-optic network backbone allowed for an almost unprecedented level of control for the building operators and facilitated the stunning achievement of a LEED Silver rating.
Starting from the main mechanical room a complex programming scheme was developed to switch over the entire building to three different modes of operation – mechanical cooling, brine cooling and free cooling – to maintain the interior temperatures within the setpoint range. In the brine cooling mode, waste cooling capacity from the ice plant is diverted and utilized by the overall HVAC systems through an intricate series of temperature and flow sensors as well as time delay sequences, isolation and bypass valve sequences and substantial use of variable speed pressure controls. Where there is mechanical cooling for any purpose, there is also heat generated that typically is released into the atmosphere through cooling towers. Here, this waste heat was captured through a series of heat exchangers and used either as a first stage of heating or to pre-heat the hydronic system prior to being brought up to temperature by the main boiler plant.
As the Olympics are the highest level of amateur sport in the world, the standards for all competition surfaces are second to none. Maintaining these standards requires a complex system of outdoor, return air and exhaust dampers connecting the main air handling units and dehumidification units. To add difficulty to an already sensitive process, LEED has strict requirements for the indoor air quality of any rated building so in addition to maintaining Olympic-level ice standards in a rainforest, the Delta system was able to accommodate seven different air-side operational modes (free outdoor air cooling, dehumidification mode, normal heating mode, C02 ventilation override, low-limit protection, system purge mode, fire mode) and still maintain the carefully calculated flow ratios required.
ESC and Delta’s success in this project has resulted in an iconic new building on the bank of the Fraser River that will stand as a reminder of Vancouver’s Olympic success and environmentally sustainable commitment.