Synthetic Ice: Green Future for the Ice Rink Industry
The world is placing more and more attention on developing a greener future.
At our current rate, we are at risk of leaving a damaged earth for our grandchildren.
So now, green is everywhere.
The places where we consume the most energy, like agriculture and the food system, are taking steps to reduce climate change.
Even in sport and pastimes like ice skating, we can do our part.
As creators of synthetic ice, we know all of its practical uses:
- It’s easily accessible.
- It’s durable
- And scalable
For the uninitiated, synthetic ice tiles are panels made of high-quality polyethylene material. These tiles can be placed in your desired location for “ice skating.” You use your metal skates for an experience that compares to the real thing.
However, we also believe that it’s the ideal green future option.
The healthier the environment, the more we’ll be able to enjoy the sport.
Climate change, however, can and will affect skating.
Here are some of the challenges skating faces today and in the future and how synthetic ice panels can do their part for a greener future.
Outdoor rinks and climate change
The dangers of climate change, pollution, and our massive carbon footprints permeate every facet of our lives, even skating.
We don’t see the effects daily but over time it will begin to take its toll.
For instance, we all wait excitedly for the winter so we can skate on frozen ponds or make our rinks at home.
What we may not realize is that we’ve lost 15 days of skating over the last 50 years.
In certain parts of Canada, for instance, you can get 60 solid days of outdoor skating.
In another 50 years, that will drop by one-third.
It’s not impossible to see a future where kids won’t be able to skate outside anymore.
Robert McLeman, associate professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., is running an experiment to track the temperatures of backyard rinks in North America.
Based on the data, the temperatures are steadily increasing, which would impact the quality of ice.
In a few years, when we lose precious days on the ice because of temperature swings, we’ll wonder if setting up our backyard rinks are even worth it (mainly because they are so time-consuming and difficult to get right).
So what can we do?
Is going synthetic a green option?
Opting for synthetic ice panels helps in a few ways.
Having at-home panels or rinks means reducing our carbon footprint to get to and from an outdoor rink.
It’s installed once and provides repeated use without hundreds of gallons of water and other materials.
We also earn back some of those days we’ve lost skating in the winter.
Synthetic ice panels are versatile, meaning they can last throughout the year.
The same goes for businesses with ice rinks.
Swapping your outdoor rink for a sustainable option significantly reduces energy and water.
You get a positive return on your investment within the first year.
Synthetic panel manufacturers have improved the sourcing of sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.
That means our materials have a reduced impact on the environment.
For instance, we developed our polymer panels with our patented “Pro Glide Infused” technology with non-toxic materials.
We continue to look for ways to reduce waste, recycle materials, and provide more environmentally friendly products for our customers.
While synthetic ice a viable option, nobody wants to see ice rinks gone completely.
Natural ice feels amazing, mainly through the winter months.
That’s why we must all do our part to fight climate change.
The minor changes can slow the effects and make skating accessible just a bit longer.
What about a refrigerated rink?
Installing a refrigerated rink in your own home is the ultimate goal for some ice skaters.
Our favorite NHL teams and figure skaters compete on massive refrigerated ice surfaces.
So who wouldn’t want a rink they could use to practice their craft or have some fun whenever they wanted?
Imagine the competitive advantage you’ll have training longer and harder than your peers.
But is it the ideal “green” option?
Running a sizeable refrigerated rink is an energy-intensive endeavor.
A large, community refrigerated rink, for instance, can take a minimum of 600,000 kWh per year in just refrigeration alone.
When you factor in lighting, pumps, temperature control of the facility, and other equipment, the energy consumption can easily be 3 or 4 times more.
When you factor in peak load times and rate changes, it can really add up.
There’s also the matter of the materials used to operate a rink.
For instance, the rink would need a liquid that would flow through pipes at a constant low temperature to keep things frozen.
While ammonia could save thousands of dollars in energy costs, its toxic nature goes against the very idea of a “green” rink.
These same issues translate to an at-home rink.
At-home refrigeration rinks are more accessible, using the same concept on a smaller scale.
Now, there are some energy-saving steps to manage the rink.
For instance, you can take steps to regulate heat loss and opt for eco-friendly lighting.
You can even find ways to reduce water use for a greener image.
However, you’ll still be using significantly more energy and adding a large carbon footprint.
Should you then get rid of the ice?
In certain situations, like professional sports, refrigerated ice is required.
But these organizations must do their part to reduce energy consumption and use sustainable energy.
The NHL, for instance, has a range of helpful initiatives, including supporting rinks across the country to adopt sustainable practices and a pledge across the league to reduce energy costs and develop green business practices.
The initiatives can impact some of the over 4,800 indoor refrigerated ice rinks in the country.
If you’re installing a synthetic ice rink at home, you too can do the same.
There are more energy-efficient materials and chillers on the market.
However, you and your family should think about going synthetic, especially if you’re looking to have a green ice skating future.
Replacing it with synthetic ice takes the refrigeration process out of the equation.
If hundreds of homes around the country were to adopt this approach, we could save hundreds of thousands of kWh every year.
Savings for years to come
Those savings aren’t realized in just one year.
Because of the product’s durability, synthetic ice typically lasts for ten years (or more with some extra TLC).
Imagine the energy a refrigerated space consumes over that same period!
A commercial refrigerated ice rink, for instance, can consume as much as 2 million kWh of energy per year.
If a few were to opt for non-refrigerated rinks instead, the savings would be a game-changer.
What to consider when setting up an ice rink
When you’re adding a rink to your space, whether home or business, you should be thinking about the long-term impact of your decision.
Adopting a greener image before you start helps you make the right decision so you can get the best out of your space while not impacting the environment. Consider factors like:
- What kind of energy will the rink consume?
- How will I source the materials?
- Will maintenance harm the environment?
- What’s the cost (economic, social, etc.) of going synthetic/natural/refrigerated?
When you become more intentional with your decision, you’ll realize that although synthetic ice panels have ‘plastic’ origins, their green benefits far outweigh that of other natural options.
Synthetic Ice: A real green option in ice skating
When thinking about our future, everything we do must be green.
We must have a world where our grandchildren will not feel the effects of our footprint.
Since the 1960s, our carbon footprint has increased 11-fold.
And while we’ve made some strides in improving our pollution, consumption, and energy use, it’s a small move compared to our current consumption habits.
What does this have to do with synthetic ice?
Everything we do, we need to consider the “green” option, from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and yes, even what we skate on.
If there’s a way to reduce our energy use, water consumption and avoid toxic materials, we should take it.
Synthetic ice has come a long way from its birth in the 1960s.
Now, we make it with non-toxic, recyclable, and sustainable materials.
Even the slip agents used to resurface synthetic rinks are environmentally friendly.
Furthermore, synthetic ice can last for ten years or more.
When the time comes to replace your rink, you can do so safely and sustainably.
At Polyglide Ice, we pride ourselves in providing the highest quality synthetic ice panels on the market created with a green future in mind.
If you’re looking to install your first rink in your home or business or upgrade your existing rink, contact us today.