Venues & Theatres > Energy

Energy Audits

During an energy efficiency audit, a trained engineer conducts an analysis of your facility’s energy use and identifies opportunities for enhanced efficiency that are likely to save your organization money and improve your environmental performance.

Some utilities provide free energy efficiency audits for large commercial operations. Contact your energy provider to find out if they offer a free or subsidized energy audit or other low cost options for evaluating your facility’s energy use. Many utilities will also assist your organization in finding rebates, subsidies and other incentives for energy efficiency improvements. For example, this section contains specific information about New York resources, as well as links to similar opportunities elsewhere.

Contact NYSERDA at 1-866-NYSERDA or info@nyserda.org to set up an energy audit through their FlexTech Program, which offers cost-sharing incentives for energy audits, efficiency upgrades, peak-load reduction and load management, and retro-commissioning projects.

ConEd will also cover up to 50% of the cost for an ASHRAE Level III energy audit.  For more information visit their Energy Efficiency Study site or apply here.

Your organization may also want to consult an energy service company (ESCO), which can conduct an energy audit and finance and install energy efficiency improvements, sometimes in exchange for a share of the energy cost savings. For a directory of ESCOs, visit the National Association of Energy Service Companies database.

Energy audits save money

Reducing your energy consumption is smart business.

Through the installation of energy-efficient LED lighting and electronically-commutated motors (ECMs) on refrigeration systems at stores and warehouses, Stop & Shop has saved $4 million in cost savings and utility rebates between 2008 and 2011. With the assistance of Bluestone Energy Services, these upgrades have saved over 46 million kWh in four years, with an average payback period of two years.

Between 1990 and 2008, IBM avoided 5,000,000 MWh of energy, yielding savings of over $340 million in direct energy expenses through energy conservation initiatives. IBM’s energy strategy now aims for even more reductions through efficiency and conservation, targeting a total reduction of 1.1 million MWh between 2009 and 2012. As of 2011, IBM has already made progress towards that goal, reducing electricity use by 523,000 MWh and saving an additional $50 million.

Between 2000 and 2006, with the assistance of Avista Advantage (now Ecova), an energy consulting company, Food Lion reduced energy consumption in its stores by 25%, even though its total number of stores increased. Through a variety of upgrades to lighting, HVAC, and refrigeration systems, the company saved $105 million. Case Study (PDF)

What is an energy efficiency audit?

An energy efficiency audit analyzes and evaluates your organization’s existing energy use with an eye towards financial savings. Individual audits can vary, but they are likely to cover the following items:

  • Available incentives
    • Equipment rebates
    • Time-of-use discounts
    • Tax rebates and credits
  • Baseline energy use profile
  • Building envelope improvements
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems
    • Retrofit and replacement
    • Improved schedules
    • Improved placement of thermostats and air sensors
    • Improved computer programs
  • Lighting
    • Installation of timers and automatic sensors
    • Replacement of light fixtures and bulbs
    • Improved scheduling
  • Plumbing improvements
    • Identification of leaks
    • Improved pipe insulation
  • Overall design of your organization’s energy management program
  • Solar and wind power feasibility studies

Environmental Benefits

Electric power plants are the country’s largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming, acid rain, and mercury poisoning in lakes and rivers. By conducting an energy audit, your organization can identify ways to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels and its emission of greenhouse gases, as well as other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (causes acid rain), nitrous oxide (creates ground level ozone and causes respiratory disease), mercury (poisons streams and lakes and causes neurological damage), and fine particulate matter (causes respiratory disease).

Additional Resources

 

Energy Efficiency

An energy audit will identify opportunities for cost savings through efficiency improvements. In the absence of an audit, consider implementing the suggestions in the sections below.

The federal government’s Energy Star program offers many technical resources to help your organization reduce its energy use:

Energy Star Building Manual

Energy Star Building Manual: Lighting
Energy Star Building Manual: Financing
Energy Star Building Manual: Air Distribution Systems
Energy Star Building Manual: Heating and Cooling
Energy Star Building Manual: Investment Analysis

Energy Efficiency Upgrades

For example, NYSERDA offers incentives to eligible commercial facilities for efficiency projects including upgrades to heating and cooling systems, lighting, motors, commercial refrigeration, Monitoring-Based Commissioning (MBCx) and controls.  Visit their Existing Facilities Program for more information about available incentives or contact them at EFPOutreach@nyserda.ny.gov or 1-866-NYSERDA (Choose extension “0,” and ask to speak with an Existing Facilities Project Coordinator regarding the CFA process).  For facilities that need technical assistance with feasibility studies or projects, consider participating in NYSERDA’s FlexTech Program.

ConEd’s Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program also offers incentives for upgrading equipment including lighting fixtures, LED exit signs, chillers, packaged heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems, motors, water and steam boilers.  They will also cover up to 50% of the cost for an ASHRAE Level III energy audit.  For more information visit their Energy Efficiency Study website, apply here, or contact them at conedci@lmbps.com or (877)-797-6347.

If your venue is outside of New York City, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for a list of energy efficiency incentives and rebates in your state.

Calculate savings from energy-efficient products.

Lighting

  • Convert lighting on exterior marquees, and in bathrooms, lobbies, backstage areas, and ancillary areas like offices, dressing rooms, basements, machinery rooms, grids, back alleys, and stairways to energy-efficient CFL or LED fixtures and use motion-sensors or timers on lighting where feasible.
  • Turn off lights in areas that are not in use. For example, house lights can be turned off after the cleaning crew and porters have finished cleaning in the morning. Lights do not need to stay on for the entire shift while staffers clean other areas in the venue.
  • Adjust lighting and equipment schedules based on occupancy levels and staff schedules.
  • Work with light bulb manufacturers to develop energy-efficient, warm, smoothly dimming decorative lamps for theatres’ chandeliers and candelabras.

For example, NYSERDA offers incentives for LED lighting products that are Energy Star or Design Lights Consortium approved. Visit their Tools and Resources page for the most current EFP Solid State Lighting (LED) policy.

Tips for reducing energy use

There are many things that your venue can do to increase the efficiency of its energy use. The tips below are a useful start.

  • Buy Energy Star-rated appliances, electronics, lighting, and HVAC systems. For product categories that are not rated by Energy Star, consult the Federal Energy Management Program’s procurement guide.
  • Coat roofs with reflective paint to reduce cooling costs.
  • Seal leaks in the building envelope.
  • Increase insulation, especially along windows and above ceilings.
  • Lower the temperature on your thermostats.
  • In the heating season, keep shades on sun-facing windows open during the day and closed at night. In the cooling season, keep shades on sun-facing windows closed during the day.
  • Install programmable thermostats.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heaters.
  • Properly insulate hot water storage tanks and heating pipes.
  • Replace single-pane windows with double-pane Energy Star-rated windows.
  • Install energy-efficient (Energy Star-rated) washers and dryers in wardrobe departments.
  • Remind cast and crew to turn off lights when they are not needed.
  • Encourage actors and production staff to turn off window air conditioners and unplug all unnecessary electronics when they are not in use.

For more on reducing your venue’s energy use, consult with your energy suppliers and local Public Utilities Commission, and visit the pages below:

Reducing energy use saves money

Reducing your organization’s energy consumption is smart business.

The New Victory Theatre in New York City upgraded lighting on their exterior kinetic light sculpture, reducing exterior lighting costs by 80% a year, and saving $50,000 annually.

The Gershwin Theatre upgraded exterior and interior lighting throughout their lobby, dressing rooms, backstage areas, and bathrooms, resulting in 309,651 kWh savings from 2009-2013.

The National Theatre in London upgraded its external lighting to LED, reducing electricity consumption by 70%. They have also saved energy by switching off rigs and discharge lights between the final check and half-hour call, nearly doubling lamp life.

Environmental Benefits

Electric power plants are the country’s largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming, acid rain, and mercury poisoning in lakes and rivers. By conducting an energy audit, your organization can identify ways to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels and contribution to emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, as well as other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (causes acid rain), nitrous oxide (creates ground level ozone and causes respiratory disease), mercury (poisons streams and lakes and causes neurological damage), and fine particulate matter (causes respiratory disease).

Additional Resources

 

HVAC

Heating, cooling, and ventilation systems consume a lot of energy. Replacing a less efficient system with a more efficient model will yield energy and cost savings during the course of its use.

When purchasing a new HVAC system, consider purchasing the most efficient model that suits your needs. Visit the US EPA’s Energy Star products database for a list of the most efficient HVAC systems. In addition, consult the Energy Star Building Manual for Heating and Cooling to learn more about HVAC efficiency upgrades. For those products that are not rated by Energy Star, consult the Federal Energy Management Program.

For a list of available incentives and rebates in your state, visit the State Database of Renewables and Efficiency and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s Tax Incentives Assistance Project.

A zoning system that conditions spaces based on different use “zones” can also be an effective way to reduce HVAC energy use in your building, particularly if your building has spaces with very variant occupancy levels throughout different times of the day.

Calculate savings from energy-efficient products

Energy Efficiency Saves Money

Replacing inefficient HVAC equipment with newer, more efficient, and better-designed equipment will yield operating cost reductions during the lifetime of a new or renovated facility. According to the EPA, replacing components of an older HVAC typically yield annual savings of around 20% below current energy costs.

Product Specifications

When replacing HVAC equipment, keep the following in mind:

  • Consider using the EPA’s Energy Star program.
  • If Energy Star does not rate the particular appliance, purchase the most efficient model feasible.
  • Look for other energy saving features such as programmability and power-saving functions.
  • Many products continue to use energy, even when they’re turned off. Look for products that use as little energy as possible while in “off” mode.
  • When replacing lighting and appliances with more efficient models, heating loads can be reduced, sometimes enabling your facility to downsize HVAC systems.

Benefits of Replacing HVAC Systems

Most energy consumed in the United States comes from coal, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and numerous negative heath impacts and while also adding significantly to human-derived global warming.

Investing in better HVAC systems also ensures a healthier environment for theatre staff, audiences, and cast and crew members. Improved filtration technology decreases the amount of particulates and bio contaminants (fungus, mold, viruses) in the workspace. Newer HVAC systems are also more adept at filtering and sealing out nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, and other air pollutants that can harm staff and visitors to your facility.

Additional Resources

 

RECs/Renewable Energy

Many states and utilities offer opportunities to purchase renewable energy directly from your electricity service provider. Visit Green Power NYC for renewable energy options in New York City, or consult Green-e for opportunities in your area.

In areas where you cannot purchase renewable energy through your existing provider, your organization may want to consider enrolling in a utility green pricing program or purchasing renewable energy certificates (RECs), which ensure that energy providers deliver renewable electricity to the grid that is equal to the amount you consume. Whichever option you choose, you can make sure the renewable energy you purchase meets the highest standards of environmental quality by looking for credible third party certification like Green-e. Visit Green-e for a list of REC providers in your state. The EPA’s Guide to Purchasing Green Power (PDF) is an excellent reference, with step-by-step instructions and lists of available resources.

The cheapest, cleanest energy is the energy you don’t use. Before purchasing renewable energy, consider improving the energy efficiency of your facilities. With the money you save, you can consider investing in renewable energy and still reduce your overall energy bill.

What are Renewable Energy Credits?

RECs represent an investment in renewable energy generation projects. Instead of buying renewable energy directly from your electricity provider, purchasers of RECs ensure that renewable facilities deliver clean energy into the grid and displace nonrenewable energy sources. By helping to substitute fossil fuel generation with renewables, your organization helps to prevent emissions of greenhouse gases.  RECs are not the same as carbon offsets, which are designed to offset carbon emissions associated with energy use. For more on carbon offsets, see the Carbon Offsets section of this guide.

Renewable Energy Benefits

By investing in renewable energy, you are helping to finance renewable energy products across the country. Fossil fuel energy generation – for electricity, transportation, and industrial uses – is the principal cause of air pollution and global warming. By purchasing renewable energy, your organization can reduce its demand for fossil fuel energy and also reduce its contributions to smog, acid rain, pollution-related illness, and global warming. 

Additional Resources

  • Buy Green-e Certified Renewable Energy for Your Business
  • EPA Green Power: Tags vs. Delivered Products (PDF)
  • EPA: Green Power Locator
  • Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency

 

On-site Renewables – On-site Renewable Energy Generation

On-site renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, is a way to supply some of the power for your facility while reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and minimizing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Many major companies, educational institutions, and governmental facilities now use some type of on-site renewable energy to provide power to their facilities. 

Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for a list of available incentives and rebates in your state.

NYSERDA offers funding for the installation of solar electric PV systems, solar thermal hot water systems, wind turbines, and geothermal heating and cooling systems. Visit their Renewable Energy site for details on eligible models and available installers.

On-site renewables can be cost-effective

On-site renewables, such as wind and solar power, can help keep the cost of your electricity stable, improve the fuel diversity of your system, promote your facility’s energy independence, and generate positive publicity by visibly demonstrating a civic commitment to reduce fossil fuel use. They also offer the potential to feed excess energy that is generated on-site back into the grid (called “net-metering,” which can turn your meter backwards), a potential source of income. In addition, there are incentives available that can reduce the initial capital cost.

On-site solar generation at theatres

Broadway Stages partnered with Solar Energy Systems, Greenpoint Energy Partners and NYSERDA to install a 50,000-square-foot solar PV system on their roof, intended to provide power to their seven Brooklyn studios.  The system is projected to cover 32% of their power needs annually, producing 500,000 kWh of energy each year. This adds up to as much as $100,000 in avoided energy costs, and 822,000 pounds of avoided carbon dioxide emissions.

The Wharf, home of Sydney Theatre Company in Australia, installed a 384-kW solar PV system on their roof in November 2010, which was at the time the second largest rooftop installation in Australia.   The 1906-panel system uses Suntechpluto monocrystalline cell technology that was co-developed by the University of New South Wales. The system provides approximately 70% of the theatre’s energy use.

For more examples of on-site solar generation, visit the following website: On-site Renewables at EPA Offices.

Environmental Benefits

Fossil fuel energy generation – for electricity, transportation, and industrial uses – is the principal cause of air pollution and global warming. By generating electricity from on-site solar, your organization can reduce its demand for fossil fuel energy and also reduce its contributions to smog, acid rain, pollution-related illness, and global warming. 

Additional Resources