September 28 2010 09:28PM
We’ve been rolling around an idea in our brain for a few years now. It started as a “gee, this would be a good idea” concept and later involved doing some research with a local engineer to see if it had any legs. The latest stage has been whispering about it in conversation with some folk around town including our very own Jason Gregor.
Gregor texted us earlier today and said “I mentioned the arena idea you had on my show. Maybe you could take a break from your fan boy silence and grace us with your dream for a Green Arena. If you can find the time to stop kissing your Eberle picture that is.”
Very well Sir. Here goes.
We say that if a new arena has to be built, we don’t just build a snazzy new Rexall Place with wider concourses and additional seating. If public funds are going to be used as part of larger financing, it should create a legacy that benefits Oilers faithful and non hockey fans alike for decades to come.
Edmonton should build a Green Arena.
A GREEN WHAT?
Kick starting an alternative energy industry in Alberta is a concept that has been debated by private industry and Government for nearly at least a decade. But it is one of those chicken and egg scenarios – how do you invest money to build a wind farm or solar array if there is no guaranteed demand? Without alternative energy supply being built – what option do people have who are looking to 'go green?'
Building a world class “Green Arena” and using it as a way to finally kick start an alternative energy industry in Alberta is an opportunity that is knocking at our door.
GREENWASHING AND BS
Many “eco-friendly projects” are little more than slapping a solar panel on a rainforest cutting facility and painting the doors an eco-friendly shade of green. There is little environmental benefit to doing it, but companies and politicians alike have a desire to jump on board the Green bandwagon even if it doesn’t really lessen the impact on ol’ Mother Earth.
This is called greenwashing and it eliminates the environmental benefits of proposed projects right out of the gate.
The biggest problem with alternative energy projects in Alberta – particularly the increasingly popular Geothermal loop – is that they greatly increase electrical consumption.
In Alberta, most of our electricity is generated using dirty ol' coal. As a result if you go geothermal and reduce your gas consumption you also increase your electricity demand and wipe out any benefit to the environment.
The solution to this problem is to start a bunch of large scale remote wind farms and create clean electricity in the process. The problem with this is that you need a big whack of demand before companies and politicians would be willing to fork out the dough needed to get a big one built. As a result we have barely any of the wind juice in Alberta.
What is needed is leadership and a big customer to step forward and demand supply. And with a facility the size of an proposed Downtown Arena you have a real opportunity to build a one of a kind facility in the world and start a whole new industry in the process.
DO GO ON PROFESSOR WANYE
Buildings of this size are utility pigs. It takes a massive amount of electricity and natural gas to power and heat an arena complex 24/7/365 especially in Edmonton where it is so cold that entire neighbourhoods often freeze solid and aren’t heard from again until Spring.
But the bigger the utility demand from a facility, the wider your options are to find opportunities to use alternative energy. In addition, if you have a project the size of the proposed arena that is 100% committed to using alternative energies for its 50 year life span, it can single handedly justify spending investing in projects and technologies that would have guaranteed demand once they were brought online.
WASTE HEAT AND WIND
There are a couple of alternative energy technologies that could be used to power and heat a facility the size of the arena project. Without boring you to death with a bunch of energy mumbo jumbo, let’s just say this: managing the waste heat from the building and using wind power are two of the cheapest and most effective ideas.
When you are constantly making ice – i.e making cold – you are also generating a lot of heat. Have you ever seen that massive fan thing outside Rexall Place in the winter blowing steam to high heaven?
That’s the heat stack and it is venting the waste heat from the ice plant at the arena much like the back of your fridge at home vents the heat that comes from cooling your tasty Bud Light within.
A Green Arena could make use of capturing all of this waste heat and could redistribute it in the Downtown core. Back of the napkin math suggests that an arena the size of Rexall Place be used to heat roughly 10,000 square feet of low income housing heating nearby.
24/7/365 the Oilers could be providing heat that is currently being sent to the sky, to people who could make good use of it. If the arena were to be built using the a massive geothermal loop, you could power the thing using wind power – and avoid the catch 22 that “dirty” coal fired electricity that rules out the environmental benefits for using this technology for most projects.
Go Wind with the arena and the first wind farm in Northern Alberta would then have its first big customer. A customer so big that it would single handedly make the multi-million dollar investment relatively risk free. Once you get the first turbines in the ground, smaller projects could then pile on and a sizeable farm could then be built bit by bit and Alberta takes the lead.
GIVE THE POLITICIANS A REASON TO INVEST
With the Civic Election in full swing, now is not the time for any politician seeking re-election to stick their neck out and stand in favour of the new arena. Asking for money from politicians for the simple reason of ‘we want an arena like Minnesota’ isn’t really going to fly in these tough times.
So why not turn the conversation on its ear and suggest that a project as big as the arena could become a landmark in Green Development all the world over and kick start a whole new industry in Alberta? We have looked and can’t find any mention of an arena or stadium anywhere that provides significant energy savings over a traditional facility.
Build a Green Arena? Edmonton would be the first. World wide. That is something that a politician can wrap his or her arms around all day long.
TALK ABOUT YOUR PR
Every time an arena or stadium would be proposed around the world for the next 25 years someone would invariably stand up and say “if we are going to build a new building, we should make it a green one like that one way up in Northern Canada.”
The result would be delegation after delegation landing in the City of Champions and touring the arena district trying to figure out how to build one back home. The mentions of the arena and of Edmonton world wide would go through the roof – and the politicans who got on board could bask in the international glow for years to come.
And big dirty Alberta would finally have something positive to stand behind besides washing off oil covered ducks using recycled water.
Saying that the current arena needs to be replaced for environmental reasons is stretching the truth to say the least. The energy and resources to build a new arena alone are staggering and the best thing you could do for the environment would be to find away to continue to use Rexall Place until 2193.
But with Alberta being labelled as the Great Satan, with its Oilsands, Oil pumps and the team called the Oilers – a project of this magnitude would help jump start an industry that could quickly become sizeable and would shift the focus away from dirty energy and reposition Alberta at the front of an emerging alternative energy industry.
The concept of a team called “The Oilers” having the prototype Green Arena emulated world wide is a hilarious bit of irony. But as Alberta continues to seek ways to lessen its impact on the environment and find new industries other than Oil and Gas it could do just that.
Also, Jordan Eberle is a mega stud and we are going to ask his hand in marriage.