2016 ACEC Canada 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.  Thermosyphon performance is monitored using solar powered satellite technology.  Hockey surface floor temperatures are uploaded to an online service daily.
  • 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. This technology is proprietary to Accutech Engineering.  It is unique in its simplicity and applying proven technologies in ways that had never been done before.  The systems installed met all of the Client’s requirements.  An extended hockey season was provided for virtually zero increase in operating costs.  Given the extreme cost for electricity in Whale Cove, $1.22/kW-hour, this is an incredible achievement.


For more information, see Canadian Consulting Engineer Magazine article: 

Whale Cove Arena — Ice Plant – Award of Excellence