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EQUANS helped build the largest ice-skating complex in Belgium

07 October 2021

Last weekend, Groot Schijn, Belgium's 17th ‘Sportoase’, officially opened its doors in Deurne. The new sports complex includes a swimming area, fitness centre and two covered skating rinks, which together form the largest skating rink in Belgium. As the reference partner for energy-efficient sports and leisure centres, EQUANS was also involved in the project.

With Sportoase, EQUANS has been offering local authorities a ready-made concept for the construction of high-quality sports and swimming complexes for years. The buildings are equipped with the most advanced installations, which reduce both energy costs and the ecological footprint. This is also the case with Groot Schijn, where EQUANS was responsible for the installation of all techniques in the ice-skating complex, ranging from electricity and fire protection to HVAC and deep cooling for the ice rinks. In addition, EQUANS will also take care of building management and the maintenance of the installations in Groot Schijn in the coming years.

Specialised departments

In terms of climate control, an ice rink presents specific challenges. Glenn Verheyen, project manager and energy consultant at EQUANS: “You have to take different temperatures into account. The ice is cooled to -14 °C, with ambient air of around 12 °C. If there is a leak with an external temperature of 20 °C, droplets will form. If you want to avoid the entire skating rink being covered in mist, you need a heavy-duty dehumidifier. For this, we can count on our HVAC-department, which specialises in installations at sub-zero temperatures. Our colleagues from the ‘Buildings’ department were responsible for electricity and fire protection, while our ‘Maintenance’ division installed the building management system. This project was a fantastic collaboration between all the departments within EQUANS.”

entrainement patinage artistique
match de hockey

20 to 25% more energy-efficient

According to Glenn, the Groot Schijn skating complex is 20 to 25% more energy-efficient than a traditional skating rink. This is the result of the various energy-efficient installations: “First and foremost, two air groups are provided for ventilation, on the basis of occupancy. In addition, we use three compressors for the ice machines, which are equipped with a frequency drive to save energy according to demand. The heat produced by the ice machines is then reused to heat the swimming pool area and the floor under the ice rinks. The fact that we can recover a great deal of energy means that the cooling tower provided will hardly have to be used.”

Safety first

Finally, a great deal of attention was also paid to the safety of the guests. Glenn: “In old skating rinks, pure ammonia was often fed through the pipes under the rink to cool the ice. When this type of pipe breaks, harmful ammonia is released. In Groot Schijn, all the pure ammonia remains in the engine room and an alkali agent, which cannot cause any damage, runs through the pipes.”


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