Case Study 1: Canlan Ice Sports

Natural Resources Canada's "Spot the Energy Savings Workshop" for Canlan Ice Sports pays for itself 15 times over in the first five years

Log of Canlan Ice SportCanlan Ice Sports owns and operates 22 multi-purpose recreation and entertainment facilities across North America. For their annual operations managers conference in January 2010, Darren Parachoniak, Director of Energy Management, Facilities & Assets, worked with Natural Resource Canada to provide a one day "Spot the Energy Savings" workshop to conference participants. Initially, senior management at Canlan questioned whether the workshop was worth the expense. Having recently attended a Natural Resources Canada workshop and having become convinced of the value of the training, Darren assured management that the cost savings resulting from the workshop would exceed workshop costs.


Results from the first year of the program

  • Workshop payback 5 months
  • $13,000 in annual energy savings
  • $74,000 in avoided energy costs over the next 5 years
  • Will pay for itself 15 times over in next 5 years

Far from being a theoretical exercise, the workshop was geared towards achieving real energy savings at Canlan's arenas. Darren challenged each operations manager to apply the concepts from the workshop at their own facilities and to carry out an energy efficiency project that resulted in enough savings to cover their portion of the workshop costs. He called them "Micro Energy Projects" and offered several prizes to provide incentives to managers to produce the highest savings at the lowest cost.

The results were remarkable. In the first year of the program, six facilities completed projects and identified over $13,000 in annual energy savings, more than twice the total cost of the workshop. These savings represent nearly $74,000 in avoided energy costs over the next 5 years, essentially paying for the workshop 15 times over. Senior management's initial hesitancy quickly faded once they saw the effect of the training and awareness building on their bottom line. By the end of the program's first year, Darren stated that Natural Resources Canada's training had provided the foundation for a "lasting energy management legacy" at their organization.


The program was customized for the Canlan conference and armed participants with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify and carry-out the Micro Energy Projects. The workshop facilitators conducted an on-site walkthrough of one of Canlan's arenas. They reviewed recent energy audit reports, conducted an analysis of the company's energy data, and reviewed Canlan's energy conservation policies and processes. They used the observations from the visit, as well as data collected from other research, to develop a presentation tailored to arena operators, full of useful examples and ideas. The workshop included hands-on demonstrations of tools and technologies, as well as facilitated exercises such as a "cost of wasting water spreadsheet," which were developed specifically for the group. Workshop participants were also provided with a comprehensive checklist of energy saving opportunities specific to Canlan's facilities.

The first and second place winners in the program's first year were simple, low to no cost micro energy projects that delivered considerable savings. First place went to British Columbia's North Shore Arena which achieved the largest energy savings per investment dollar. Based on an opportunity discussed in the workshop, the facility's operations manager, Ken Stanley, proposed a lighting management program that resulted in savings of $2,162 a year at no capital cost. He determined that certain programs and activities, such as figure skating, require less light than other programs, such as junior hockey. Stanley wrote shut-down procedures for the relevant programs. The procedures were communicated to staff and light loggers were used to verify the savings.

The second place prize went to Scarborough Arena in Ontario for the highest overall energy savings. This facility invested $2,300 in dew-point sensors to control their dehumidifiers. By reducing the valve run time with more accurate humidity sensors, the operations manager, Rob Ashley, was able to save $7,300 a year in energy costs.

The program has managed to turn many of the arena managers at Canlan into full blown "energy champions" at their facilities. At one facility, other staff members, including food and beverage staff, have become involved in the energy projects and are even carrying out their own energy saving initiatives.

"Everyone is really passionate about this and they are excited about the difference they are making," said Darren who, due to the managers' newfound passion for energy management, now receives many e-mails and calls from operations managers outside of their regularly scheduled meetings. "I don't mind at all," he says. "It shows that the initiative is really working."

At the annual Operations Managers conference over a year after the training, the managers reported back to their peers on the energy saving projects they'd completed in the previous year. This provided an opportunity for managers to share successes and propose ideas for future energy saving projects. By incorporating energy management success stories and information sharing into the annual conference agenda, the Operations Managers began to see energy management as part of "regular business practice", thereby fostering an energy savings culture in their organization that will serve them well for many years to come.