The Pegula Ice Arena in University Park, Penn., the new home of Penn State hockey, is owned and operated by The Pennsylvania State University. The new state-of-the-art venue was designed to be a fan-friendly, entertaining environment and provide the fastest, hardest ice in college hockey. Both men’s and women’s teams transitioned to Division I status to coincide with the completion of the facility.
The 228,000-SF facility features a 6,000-seat main arena, including a 1,000-seat student section, with an NHL regulation-size ice rink. New locker rooms, weight room, offices and training spaces serve the Penn State men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. A second NHL regulation-size rink with 300 seats operates nearly 24 hours a day for practice and tournament use by community and youth hockey leagues and figure skaters.
IMEG provided mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and ice systems design. Unlike many rinks which rely on the ice to condition the space, IMEG designed the HVAC systems and ice plant to integrate and be energy efficient. The sophisticated ice plant is designed for performance, operator safety, redundancy, and maintenance. Key features include 26 miles of pipes, high-efficiency screw compressor ice making systems, evaporative condenser towers and pumps.
Ammonia refrigerant is circulated through the ice plant and ice making compressors before it passes through a plate and frame heat exchanger, where it removes heat from a brine mixture of glycol and water. Filters use reverse osmosis to remove impurities from the water. The brine mixture is then circulated through the pipes to remove heat from the concrete slabs below the ice. The tubing was held close to the top of the concrete slabs to increase heat transfer efficiency and maintain the temperature profile across the ice surface.
An operating system with industrial-grade programmable logic controllers runs the automated plant to maintain the 1.5-inch-thick ice sheets, simultaneously monitoring, via infrared sensors in the ceiling, ice temperature, water, glycol and ammonia levels, as well as the arena’s humidity level. The advanced operating system has the ability to maintain the two ice surfaces at different temperatures to provide warmer ice for figure skating in the community rink and colder ice for varsity hockey in the main arena.
The Pegula ice plant is a distributed system which occupies an area designed to provide plenty of space to perform maintenance in a safe environment.
The building’s mechanical system includes 12 air handling units, six of which incorporate 100-percent outside air into their design. Since dry air leads to dry, fast ice, three of the AHUs serve as large dehumidification units to condition outside air before it enters the building, helping to maintain not only the arena’s internal humidity but also its air temperature. Desiccant dehumidification wheels, heated to an extreme temperature, remove moisture from the passing air. The dry air then is circulated into the arena bowl at 90,000 cubic feet per minute to maintain 40-percent relative humidity.
Another dehumidification unit serves the locker rooms, exhausting directly from each player’s equipment storage area, providing a drying sequence that can be initiated by the equipment manager at any time.
A radiant finned tube piping system along the curtain wall on the east side of the building counteracts any cold air seeping through the window to make the area as comfortable as possible.
The design includes many sustainable features, including energy recovery wheels on certain air handling units, demand control ventilation, high efficiency lighting and occupancy sensors, waterless urinals and low-flow plumbing fixtures.