2015 ACEC Manitoba Award of Excellence

April 4 2019

Accutech Engineering Inc. was retained by the Government of Nunavut for the provision of Project management and complete engineering design to implement a proprietary design for an “energy-free” refrigeration system in Whale Cove, Nunavut.  Whale Cove is a Hamlet of approximately 400 people located approximately 1,400 km north of Winnipeg in Canada’s high arctic.  The community required additional activities for their youth, and a zero impact on their operating budget.

The project involves the renovation of an existing arena.  Accutech has developed a proprietary design to provide “zero-energy” refrigeration systems to arenas within Nunavut.  The Whale Cove Arena Project is beautiful in its elegant simplicity, and the not-so-obvious solution implemented in an extreme location.  The success of the project is a function of the sum of its parts, and not each individual part.  Each of the main components has been considered and designed with the end-user constantly in mind.  The three main components are:

  • Concrete floor for the Arena – provides year round use of the space, thermal storage for the refrigeration system, and prevents rink-flood water from seeping into the permafrost and potentially thawing the permafrost or damaging the building foundation through ice formation around the footings.
  • Thermosyphons – provide energy free refrigeration for the ice surface. These are passive devices that transfer heat from beneath the arena floor to the cooler ambient conditions.  Thermosyphons are maintenance free and have no moving parts.
  • Ventilation system – the ventilation system installed provides dehumidification, cooling and general building ventilation. The control system is multi-faceted to facilitate all aspects of the design, yet provides a simple user interface.

All components are conscious of the extreme energy cost in Whale Cove, unique construction constraints and are virtually maintenance free.

This is a proven design that will extend the operating season by approximately four months for virtually zero operating cost increase.

Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory, was established in 1999.  The Hamlet of Whale Cove is a principally Inuit community, with 96% of the population being Inuit.  The Inuit culture and traditions place heavy emphasis on being together as a community in all aspects.

Sports have a long-standing place within the Inuit culture.  The Inuit have many traditional sporting events.  There is strong competition between the communities for regional/territorial events and strong collaboration between communities for events outside of Nunavut.

Within the Inuit culture, it is traditional to host community feasts.  Traditionally, a community feast in Whale Cove would consist of locally available “country foods” such as seal, walrus, caribou, and berries.  In recent years, these feasts were hosted in the gymnasium of the school; the only single room large enough to accommodate the entire community.  In the warmer weather, the feast may be outdoors.  It is difficult to find suitable outdoor venues in Whale Cove due to a lack of seating, variability of weather, mosquito population, and dust created by vehicles.