Heat of the moment

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The Met Office has an events calendar on its website that allows visitors to gain a forecast for an upcoming sporting fixture or major event. Granted, it’s a useful tool for visitors looking to plan their visit so that they can be suitably prepared. The weather can play havoc with events – muddy fields can cause people to slip and scorching summer days can end in dehydration and sunstroke, both ailments that your on-site first aiders and medical services may have to deal with.

The events calendar may prove popular with sporting fans and festival goers but how can event organisers and production managers predict the their heating and cooling requirements, to make guests feel comfortable, if freak weather conditions like those recently experienced become the norm?

Last year, the UK saw some of the most extreme weather conditions – snow in March and temperatures exceeding 35C. Neil Willott, director of PW Industries, which supplies chiller and refrigeration units to events, says that the summer’s high temperatures were no issue for the company, due to the construction of its kit’s thermal performance. Refrigeration units should be able to maintain temperatures of -5 in hot weather, good news for the caterers and hungry punters on-site.

On an international note, Aggreko’s major events division provided power and temperature control for the media compounds at the Super Bowl last month, as the Dallas/Fort Worth area experienced some of the coldest winter temperatures in decades. Aggreko provided large-scale power generation and heating for the entire event, including the half-time show, which featured The Black Eyed Peas; and some 4600 kW of heating was needed.

Plan and budget

Owen Ward, in charge of business development at Acclimatise, suggests that it’s very hard for production managers to compare temperature control quotes on a like for like basis.

He explains: “Some companies will size a job and assume the weather conditions for March and April, but you only have to  look at the last week of March last year; we had snow in early spring. At the end of the day, if you get caught out you only have one chance.

“You have to compensate for the extreme weather that the UK now experiences. We will always oversize a job because a client’s client, for example, will always be the first one to complain if they are too hot or too cold.

“However, the frustration is that temperature control is always the last thing discussed and the first thing chopped. Only when the client complains will you get a phone call saying ‘help’. People
are gambling with the weather, hoping it doesn’t get too extreme, and it’s very hard to get the point over when you have someone quoting £3,000 for one chiller and another quoting £4,000 for two.
The production manager will go with the cheaper option and then we have to explain that we have a contingency plan in place.”

Acclimatise worked with Best Parties Ever on 13 sites over the Christmas period, ensuring ambient temperatures within the structures hired for festive parties, and it will be working at Silverstone shortly, providing climate control within hospitality suites on-site.

Comfort factor

Yet, even with increasing temperatures, heater hire levels have been known to increase. Fabulous summer weather one minute and poor summer weather the next makes temperatures difficult to gage.

Richard Ferrand, sales director events at Cooling and Heating Solutions, comments: “The issue is always how much  heating or cooling do you sell for a given space. When a clients asks us to quote for an event in a given month, we take the ‘average’ temperature for that period (high and low) and base the equipment supplied to meet that criteria.

“We certainly put in all our quotes what external temperature our specified equipment will cope with, be it heating or air conditioning, to achieve the ‘comfort’ temperature internally. To extend beyond that average means the hire costs increase and there is a more than 90 per cent chance that the extra capacity is never used. There is also a good chance you will not win the business either by being too expensive. So in short, you cannot quote in advance for the very cold temperatures we had last December.

“To be fair many event organisers now understand the merits of a good blackout lining, which acts as an insulator in a tent, it reduces heat loss and most importantly saves fuel usage. So by using the normal air changes per hour in a tent but coupled with a good lining means the actual outside temperature can be much lower using the same number of kilowatts specified for a standard lined tent.”

He continues: “A very cold winter or very hot summer is a good wake up call for event organisers. Our often mild winters and wet warmish summers lull organisers into reducing specification and budgets for temperature control. Last December may ensure sufficient budget is accorded to heating for this coming winter.”

Ice ice baby

In 2010, the Veltins Arena Auf Schalke was turned into the largest ice hockey  stadium in the world. It was the venue for the opening match of the World Championship between the host country Germany and the USA. A new world record for the number of visitors to an

ice hockey match was set with a total of 77,803 spectators and secured the new entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the largest ice hockey stadium in the world.

Although the American team was the clear favourite, Germany won the game 2:1 after extra time, thereby securing the first two World Championship points.

CoolEnergy supplied the cooling power for the ice rink for this sporting event.

Footballs were replaced by pucks flying through the Veltins Arena. The Austrian company AST installed a mobile ice hockey rink in the arena for the opening match. The appropriate cooling power
for the artificial ice surface measuring 60 metres long and 30 metres wide was made available by CoolEnergy. Eight air-cooled refrigeration systems were installed, which provided a temperature of -10°C at a pressure of three bar.

In total, the refrigeration and air-con specialists laid 500 metres of water pipes, the same quantity of high-performance cable, and installed eight cooling water pumps, and with just five days to prepare the ice for the championship.