The SDIA management team is always looking for ways to help decrease operating costs and increase efficiency. One of the biggest investments made into the facility has been the expansive solar panel construction.
Started in 2014, the SDIA solar panel project took six months to build and cost over $1,000,000. It includes 1,000 individual panels, two arrays that provide shade to the parking lot, an exercise patio and a platform for a new dehumidifier system. To date it has generated 690,000 kilowatt-hours of power. That’s the equivalent of 55,000 gallons of gas or enough to power the average American home for 63 years. It also provides shade which directly cools the area by as much as five degrees and prevents water evaporation. The solar panels themselves consist of two arrays. The first has 444 panels and is located next to the building. The second is across the first row of parking spaces and has 564 panels. Each panel is rated for 280 watts of power, which feeds into an AC converter, which taps into the power grid via BUS tap. All the power which is generated during the day is fed directly into the power grid and metered. At night when the solar panels are not producing power the rink draws energy from the grid and the energy used is counted against the energy metered earlier in the day.
In addition to the actual panels we rebuilt the front patio area. Old concrete steps were replaced by ADA compliant ramps and railings. A rooftop extension was put in place to further increase the shaded area and allow for customers to utilize the space during the hot summer months. Water efficient landscaping was installed and drought resistant plants were used. The portion of the patio under the solar panels was fitted with a wood panel fence and rubber floor mats. The cushioned floor now lets figure skaters practice things like their jumps on the surface. Its done so well that several physical trainers have begun to offer training sessions during the week.
The section of the construction you may not know about is the dehumidifier platform. Located around back of the building, it sits directly above the Zamboni port. This large platform is the current house for our latest state of the art dehumidifier system. You may see the intake going across the ceiling of the rink in front of the bleachers. Shaded red, blue and green to match our skating programs, the new system works better and uses less energy. Now even during the most humid summer rainstorms the rink glass refuses to fog up. The platform has to carry such a heavy load that it was built to handle several tons of weight.
All these improvements combined with smaller projects like LED lighting, improved roof insulation and better energy conservation procedures have reduced the rink’s energy footprint by 60%. In the hot southern California sun the solar panels are one investment that should pay off.