Green cooling solutions for the Olympics

VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee (, claims that these Olympics are the greenest ever and there are whole lists of environmentally friendlier features in the venues. And even though the snow did come into play just in time for the games, demand for cooling and HVAC remain very high. Ice rinks for example, with their dual demand for cooling and heating, are highly energy intensive: a small rink in a Canadian environment requires around 211 kW and rejects 1050 mJ waste heat per hour. This year, for the first time in Olympics history, even the ski jump is refrigerated. Cimco Refrigeration, the largest supplier of engineered refrigerated equipment and services in Canada, is providing all refrigeration systems at the Vancouver games and will also do so for the 2014 games in Socchi, Russia. It is claimed that their EcoChill technology was selected for its ability to recycle 100% of ice rink refrigeration by-product into the arena or other facilities. One of the most impressive examples of the use of this sustainable technology is the Richmond Olympic Oval, a stadium that is said to fit four jumbo jets parked wing to wing and is able to accommodate 8000 spectators. The system covers the entire 400 m long ice rink and has 2462 kW capacity, thanks to heat-recovery plate exchangers and evaporative condensing. Thanks to a glycol-water loop, the excess heat captured from the ice rink compressors is circulated and used to heat the entire facility, including under floor heating, ice rink floor (to prevent the ice from heaving) ventilation systems, yoga and weight rooms, meeting centres, showers and the like. Even so, at the moment there is still too much heat energy for the centre's needs. Additionally, an "ice battery" stores thermal energy recovered from the refrigeration system, so it can be used during periods of peak cold. This innovation is claimed to enable a 30-40% energy bill reduction as compared to an older system. A comprehensive computer control system integrates the refrigeration plant with the building heating need, making it possible to combine both in more energy efficient way. Other sustainable systems in the many other Olympic venues include future cogeneration of refrigeration and heating thanks to a loop between a curling rink and an aquatic sports centre.