energy diagram of four hours of my daily life

This diagram represents four hours in a typical day in Northern Virginia for me.  All my life I have been surrounded by ice hockey.  With a dad, two brothers and a sister who play hockey (and your classic Hockey Mom), I have gone from ice rink to ice rink across the United States watching and playing.  However, while I love hockey, the energy consumption of ice rinks is remarkable.  So, I decided to use four hours that involve me going and playing hockey.

 While beginning these diagrams I needed to figure out my sources.  I researched the different electric, gas and water companies to figure out where their plants and treatment centers are.  The water company gets water from the Potomac River.  This is a large water source in the DC metropolitan area and is very important that it does not get polluted.  I also found that the power plant for the electric company is located in North Lake Anna.  It is important to know where I am getting these sources and how my energy consumption connects to a large environment.  When Texaco was still in business in 1990, there was an oil spill from a tank farm that directly affected my elementary school and the surrounding area.   An underground leak caused about seven feet of oil to show up in private water well on the Fairfax County/Fairfax City line, according to county data. The sill totaled to an estimated 250,000 gallons of diesel oil, jet fuel and gasoline.  Some home that were built over underground oil systems had oil seeping into the ground and basements of homes.  The spill was very hazardous to live in.  It is important to recognize these tank farms and different banks of resources to understand how they are working and how they may be affecting the environment we are living in.  Though they seem out of touch, issues can bring them very close to home.

Through this diagram I concluded multiple things. One was that the activities powered by electricity were the ones I had most control over, as well as provide the most dangerous waste for the environment.  By controlling how much electricity I use I can save a significant amount of energy consumption in the world. For example, I could use less air condition if I open the windows more or live in more sustainable housing. I could also make sure to only use electric lights when I need them and not watch so much television.  All these small changes can help to reduce toxic waste and overheating.

Another issue that I noticed from the diagram was the effect of cars.  Cars produce many forms of waste that lead to the greenhouse effect such as exhaust, carbon monoxide and oil leaks.  Even electric cars produce about just as much electric energy as regular cars use oil/gas energy.  Though Hybrids save oil as a natural resource, they still contribute to a large amount of energy consumption in the world.   A solution to this issue would be to live in a more mixed use environment where you can walk or bike to places where you can live, work and play.  For example, in Charlottesville I am able to walk to almost anywhere I need or I can take public transit which cuts down on vehicles.  Cars are a huge issue in global warming and energy consumption and the only true way to cut down on the issue is to cut down on driving.  Walking/biking can also provide more exercise for me and others, creating a healthier global environment.  This has proven effective in most European cities, such as Copenhagen.  Another issue with driving is the electricity used for traffic lights.  According to research in my Urban Planning class, roundabouts are actually safer than traffic lights because it forces people to be more aware. The only problem with them is that some are very old and are not as safe as recent designs. Roundabouts save lots of money and energy and could be a possible change.

Additionally, as I mentioned earlier hockey is a large consumption of energy.  As an aspiring architect I have always been interested in ways to make ice rinks more sustainable.  Through research, I have found that there are multiple energy conservation measures that can be taken to reduce the large waste of energy in ice rinks, so I don’t have to feel so bad doing what I love.   From Brendan Lenko’s article “Keeping Recreation Energy Costs on Ice” I found multiple solutions:

  1. Install low-emissivity ceilings.   Lenko explains that a suspended foil-faced ceiling can reduce radiant heat load and reduce refrigeration energy costs.  Almost all ice rinks I have been to have been good about using the foil-faced ceiling and it is an easy fix that would not affect the structure of the building itself.
  2. Keep ice temperature in check. “Increasing the ice temperature a single degree can save 6 percent annually in refrigeration costs. Additional savings are possible by raising the temperature when the rink is unoccupied. Controls can be programmed to do this and save 5 to 15 percent of annual refrigeration costs.”  This is a small change that can clearly show great positive effects on energy consumption.
  3. Design for thinner ice. This one is rather obvious. If you have more ice, you have to use more refrigeration, which means more energy use.  According to Lenko, “two inches of ice will cost approximately 10 to 15 percent more in refrigeration costs than one inch of ice.”
  4. Incorporate pump control. “The refrigeration circulation pump can be a substantial operating cost. A variable speed pump will save energy under part-load or non-refrigerating conditions.”  A lot of sustainable architecture websites discussed the idea of a computer system that controls the pump as well to make the control much easier.
  5. Install infrared heaters over the stands. “This strategy will allow people in the stands to be heated, while not heating the entire building. Depending on usage, heaters reduce annual energy costs by 3 to 12 percent.”  I have been to plenty of ice rinks that just have overhead heaters and they work just fine.  Plus, hockey isn’t about keeping warm anyways, right?  It is unnecessary to heat an entire building that it essentially a refrigerator, when it is only heating the human.

There are other ways of reducing energy consumption in ice rinks (such as using less energy consumptive lighting), that can easily be done.  Another issue is that most ice rinks can be very old and do not use the most practically sustainable systems.  I hope a “Green” certified ice rink is eventually built.

 Through this diagram and way of mapping my energy consumption to the world I have concluded various ways to help reduce the energy consumption in the world.  Through using less unnecessary appliances I can reduce the amount of energy used and appreciate the outside world a little more.  Additionally, by biking or walking somewhere instead of driving can be a huge transition in the way we systematically go about our routines and effectively reduce a large amount of waste cause by energy consumption in cars.  Lasly, the sustainable improvement in ice rinks can make a huge change in how an entire sport culture wastes energy.  This assignment has helped me be more aware of how my energy effects the world and how I can help to reduce it, and consequently reduce the total amount of energy in the globe.

Source:  “Keeping recreation energy costs on ice” (Lenko, Brendan. American City & County, March 1999, p. 28)