Compton Family Ice Arena. University of Notre Dame

New construction: Compton Family Ice Arena. University of Notre Dame; Peter Basso Associates


The University of Notre Dame, Compton Family Ice Arena. Courtesy: Justin Maconochie Photography, LLCProject name: Compton Family Ice Arena. University of Notre Dame

Location: South Bend, Ind.

Firm name: Peter Basso Associates

Project type, building type: New construction, stadium

Project duration: 2 years

Project completion date: Sept. 30, 2007

Project budget for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection engineering only: $12.1 million

Engineering challenges

The primary use and the major engineering design goal for the new University of Notre Dame Compton Family Ice Arena was to provide a state-of-the-art facility for the University of Notre Dame hockey team and all of the patrons who otherwise will use the facility for youth hockey, figure skating, etc. However, one of the unique opportunities or challenges required as part of the project was to have the ability to operate the facility in different modes in order to maximize its use to both the college and the surrounding community for events such as commencement exercises, business and social gatherings, and other sporting events and activities.


In order to successfully achieve these objectives mechanically, the selection of the type of air handling system, the sizing of the systems, and the control of the systems all had to operate together or independently. As a result, the main arena air handling system equipment was selected based on the best blend of cost and performance to meet the varying design goals and objectives. Two 60,000 cfm air handling units were selected to handle distribution of the air, while two 24,000 cfm desiccant-style dehumidification units were selected to handle the stringent space dehumidification requirements brought forth during a hockey game and to provide the required ventilation air for the more than 5,000 players, vendors, staff, and spectators. On the electrical side, in addition to providing enough show power to support the multi-use arena as well as power and communications connections for satellite uplink truck, proper electrical distribution was needed throughout to support the complex mechanical infrastructure, including ice plant and numerous pieces of specialty equipment and sports therapy and training equipment. During a hockey game, or what we referred to as an occupied event mode, the dehumidification units feed all of the air that they supply into the return air side of the main air handling units such that the two units are running in series in order to cool and dehumidify the arena simultaneously. Even though the air distribution system was headered together, if one unit does go down, the remaining unit has the ability to remain running. When there are no events occurring, the system is operated in two modes: occupied non-event and unoccupied non-event modes. During this time, the units’ airflow is controlled to a reduced level through the use of variable speed drives to achieve substantial energy savings, while at the same time maintaining the desired space temperature and humidity levels. During non-ice modes the system is operated to maintain comfort heating and cooling based on the event that is being planned. By selecting a non-ice mode of operation, the system automatically resets the space temperature conditions and takes the desiccant dehumidifier off-line such that the dehumidification unit operates as a typical comfort cooling system. As a LEED certified facility, with efficiency being a major design factor, during any event at the arena, CO, CO2, and NO2 sensors are utilized to determine the quality of air inside the arena and automatically modulate the outside air dampers to bring in fresh outside air to flush out the space. A variety of energy-efficient strategies for lighting were also implemented, including zoned control, vacancy sensing for enclosed spaces, occupancy sensing for after-hours control in main circulation areas, and dimming ballast integrated photo sensors—all of which provide lumen maintenance control, extending lamp life and controlling energy consumption. Having the ability to operate the arena in multiple modes of operation greatly enhances the usage and flexibility of the facility, making it an active center for both the university and the community.

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