In the world of professional sports, few, if any cities have seen as much change and exciting promise in the past 12 months as Las Vegas, NV. Not only is the Oakland Raiders NFL team now approved to relocate to the Entertainment Capital of the World, but the newest NHL team was founded in Las Vegas last year.
By drafting players from the league’s 30 other teams, the Vegas Golden Knights became the first NHL expansion team since 2000, and the first major pro sports franchise to be based in Las Vegas. And they’ve made the city proud.
The Golden Knights started their inaugural season by winning their first eight of nine games. They’re the only NHL team ever to do so. The team has consistently sold out the 17,000-seat T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip.
But teams aren’t necessarily forged on game day. It’s the many exhaustive hours of practice that bonds players together, and this is especially true for start-up teams. Athletes who’ve never played together only form a cohesive unit through repeated exercise.
Fit for a Knight
In late 2016, months before the draft even took place, ground broke on the new Vegas Golden Knights practice facility and headquarters. City National Arena is a 146,000 square-foot, two-rink arena in the Summerlin area, on the western side of Las Vegas.
In addition to housing both University of Las Vegas hockey and the Las Vegas Cavalry, the arena is open to public use. Hockey camps, figure skating clubs and ice skating trainers make use of the state-of-the-art facility. There’s a pro shop for visitors and skaters alike, and upstairs, the MacKenzie River Pizza, Grill & Pub is a great place to grab a drink and observe both rinks below.
“There are few facilities that have a need for hot water as large and varied as an ice rink,” said Christian Glowinski, Director of Operations at City National Arena. “For example, we have a Zamboni station where ice that is shaved from the skating surface needs to be melted, and the Zambonis themselves must be filled with hot water, which is applied to the rinks to keep the ice as smooth as glass.”
As a result, City National Arena’s unseen, domestic hot water production system is just as impressive as the facility’s amenities. Maintaining two sheets of ice in a southern Nevada climate is no small task. There’s a lot of heat to remove from the ice itself and from the building. Luckily, a restaurant, 10 locker rooms with showers and the Zamboni station call for high quantities of domestic hot water. Lucky, because that need for hot water was ultimately turned into a heat sink for the building’s giant cooling load.
This was accomplished during the arena’s design phase, by finding a system that creates a symbiosis between the need to reject heat and the need to create it.
In May of 2016, Arnie Martinez, Vice President, Director of Architecture for the project’s architectural firm, Leo A. Daly, hired Finnegan Erickson Associates (FEA) for the mechanical system design. The Las Vegas MEP firm, founded in 1998, focuses on hospitality projects, though a variety of projects from small retail to sporting arenas fill their extensive portfolio. The design formulated by Pedro Quiroz, CPD and Robert Finnegan, PE called for a plant package made for arenas.
“The plant package, also called a superheater, is an assembly of water-to-water heat recovery equipment that rejects heat from the building into a large storage tank, which supplies preheated water for the DHW system,” said Mr. Quiroz, Senior Plumbing Designer. “But the superheater only brings water up to a certain temperature, typically not high enough for domestic use. So a robust Navien tankless water heater system was specified to finish the task.”
The superheater unit is located in the same mechanical room as the system’s other components; the wall-hung Navien NPE-240S water heaters and the large storage tank. The superheater provides water at a range of 90-110°F to the buffer tank. The facility then relies on the cascading Navien system to bring storage tank water up to 120°F at 23 GPM.
The NPE-240S is rated at 99% thermal efficiency and is designed specifically with commercial applications in mind. As many as eight units can be common vented. When multiple units are installed as a cascading system, the units not only provide redundancy, but give the system a widely-varying firing rate. This lowers fuel consumption and reduces runtime on all of the units.
Because the upstairs bar and restaurant requires 140°F, a separate Navien tankless system was installed. The upstairs system includes 3 units, and is completely isolated from the superheater and downstairs hot water system.
Specify, install, commission
We specified Navien units for this project because we’ve had no issues with them in the past, and they’re very flexible, which is a must for the wide variety of hospitality projects we’re involved with,” said Quiroz. “The first experience I had with Navien tankless water heaters was standing in a room full of 24 units. I thought they were off, when in fact all of them were running. Even in large systems, they’re very quiet.”
During the design phase, Quiroz relied on Roger Poland, Navien’s Western Regional Sales Manager, for help with the tankless portion of the design. The engineering firm supplied Bombard Mechanical with meticulous diagrams for the installation.
“Roger provided tremendous support before, during and after the installation. It’s not often that both the engineer and the contractor receive that level of support from a manufacturer.” Bombard technicians hung the five Navien NPE-240S units on one wall, piped in parallel. They called Poland if a question arose, but the Navien units were one of the simplest elements of the entire system. The equipment was operational weeks before the arena’s grand opening.
“We’ve had no problems whatsoever with the domestic hot water system,” said Glowinski. “I oversee all mechanical operations here, and this is one element that I don’t need to pay any mind.”
Bombard Mechanical finished the mechanical room ahead of schedule. In fact, construction of the entire facility stunned a few skeptics who thought City National Arena couldn’t possibly be completed in time for the 2017 hockey season. A grand opening was held on Sept 18th, 2017.
Las Vegans now have an NHL team they can be truly proud of, and unbeknownst to most of them, its carbon footprint is smaller than it would seem, thanks to an innovative domestic hot water system.