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Pirkkala achieved 30% energy savings and became one of the most sustainable ice rinks in Finland.

EKA redesigned the existing ice rink to become one of the most sustainable and cost efficient in Finland and the World – while also increasing comfort in the previously cold arena room which now is heated!

Pirkkala ice rink is named after its municipality, located right outside of the city of Tampere in Finland, and is a typically sized facility with one ice sheet and a spectator capacity of about 600 people. Built in year 2000, the facility used to have a conventional indirect R404A refrigeration system with Freezium flowing in the rink pipes. Heat recovery from the refrigeration system was limited to only preheating hot water, while all other heating demands in the facility (including sorption dehumidification) were covered by electric heating.

The municipality had from the beginning already decided to minimize the energy use in the ice rink by keeping the arena room non-heated, which is a significant source to achieve savings, but with a cost: the typical complaint from users that the ice rink is “too cold”. Furthermore, the roof presented risks both in terms of load-bearing capability as well as moisture handling. The municipality was naturally also interested in exploring new solutions which would make the facility sustainable and (preferably) further cost efficient.

EKA was asked in 2018/2019 to investigate the facility and present the owners a tailored solution where all these aspects would be addressed. The result was that a new indirect CO2-system connected to the existing rink floor was recommended. This would make the refrigeration system itself sustainable and allow for maximum heat recovery to cover all heating demands, including the dehumidification system which was redesigned for this purpose as well as securing the moisture handling of the roof structure.

pirkkala case study
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From the user perspective, however, the most welcomed change was that the previously cold arena room would now be heated. This would improve comfort remarkably and also cause a steady heat load on the ice, which is necessary to maintain a continuous heat recovery process to cover demands.

EKA provided with procurement design and documentation, as well as assisted the facility owner throughout the project to ensure that the contractor would deliver everything as it was designed. This became increasingly important in the commissioning phase, where it was noticed that the control of the systems was not according to EKA’s designs, and therefore not initially leading to desired savings in energy use. EKA helped bring the project back on track, but not only to the benefit of the client, since positive feedback was also given from the contractor that their learning curve in this modern technology was also being improved.

This is a 30% drop from the previous ca 500 MWh total, which is a remarkable feat since the ice rink used to be cold.

Today, with design and operation according to EKA’s recommendations, Pirkkala ice rink requires only a total of ca 350 MWh purchased energy (electricity) over its 8-month ice season from august to march. This is a 30% drop from the previous ca 500 MWh total, which is a remarkable feat since the ice rink used to be cold. Heat recovery from the new sustainable CO2-system covers all heating demands in the facility, with the only clear exception being the (mandatory) sauna in the Finnish ice rink. Last but not least, users are reporting that parents now finally can be seen happily cheering from the heated stands instead of escaping to the facility cafeteria when the kids are skating!


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