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It has been no secret that the environmental question lies at the heart of Lake Placid 2023.

Officials and organizers have all stressed the importance of making these FISU World University Games an eco-responsible event, with conferences – most notably the three-day Save Winter conference – investments and renovations all focused on this priority.

The Games facilities and venues in and around Lake Placid host thousands of athletes and spectators in a new fashion.

For instance, the Olympic Center Complex’s refrigeration system has been completely changed less than a year ago to make place for a more efficient and energy-friendly one.

This was a priority for the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA). As ORDA officials explained to the media earlier this week, “Just as Lake Placid’s history is born from ice, Lake Placid’s ice is born from refrigeration.”

“This is probably the most modern refrigeration system in the North East,” Eric Martin, the technical manager of Herb Brooks Arena – also known as the 1980 Rink – proudly demonstrates.

Emma Lamy, Sustainability and Environment Compliance Officer for ORDA, explains the details in the arena’s underground equipment.

“These are the ‘intestines’ of the refrigerator in a way. This is all a closed loop system, which means we have no waste heat at all.”

This last point is critical, for the heat generated by the cooling system can cause considerable damage to the environment. ORDA has worked to use it in other helpful ways instead.

For example, a portion of the heat is being used to heat part of the water system at the Olympic Center.

“All of this waste heat is piped to melt the sidewalks outside, so we don’t have to use salt,” explains Lamy, showing one part of the series of tubes and pipes. “Salt is extremely bad for the water sheds, so it is essential for us to have found another way around.”

As well, the residual heat melts the snow scrapings gathered by the ice resurfacing machine – known locally as Zamboni – at the different rinks, making this process way faster and more efficient.

These Zambonis have themselves been part of this new investment campaign, as the two used in the 1980 Rink are fully electric-powered.

“They are so quiet,” Dave Ulbrich, their driver, exclaims.

Overall, the new refrigeration system has brought a lot of satisfaction to ORDA on one hand, but also to venue employees.

“My job is a lot easier than it was a few years ago,” Eric Martin enthusiastically says.

Written by Louis Gilles, FISU Young Reporter

Watch our “Global Warning – Save Winter” short documentary