Businesses getting energy efficient 

Jonathan Grass of Alaska Journal of Commerce:  A ballerina hovers on stage at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. The PAC has invested thousands of dollars in recent years to become more energy efficient, including the lighting in the theaters and in the lobbies. The nonprofit that runs the PAC said the efforts have proven a savings of more than $100,000 a year.

The lights go up and the performers hit the stage … and then again, more than a thousand times a year. Just think of the electricity bill with lights across 176,000 square feet of space.

But the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts has worked to cut its utility bill, undergoing an energy efficiency program that has saved the nonprofit more than $100,000 a year in electricity alone.

Officials at the PAC have done extensive renovations for the past decade or more.

PAC President Nancy Harbour and her recently retired plant manager, Gene Dale, originally realized their contract to manage the building on behalf of the city was becoming too difficult to keep up without some real efficiency changes.

“Honestly, we could look into the future and realize that if we didn’t do something we would be in serious trouble financially,” said Harbour.

They developed a conservation plan that started with simple steps like wattage reduction and photo cells both inside and outside. They substituted fluorescent lights and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for incandescent lights. LED strip lighting was added to the lobbies. Mercury vapor fixtures in the dock area and backstage were replaced with other fluorescent fixtures with motion detectors.

These simple steps worked. Harbour said the center has saved more than $100,000 annually in electricity. In some years, it was much more.

“Then we took some serious actions and installed a heat exchanger in the south side of the building,” she said.

There is also a very aggressive air filter replacement plan plus regular calibration and testing on major equipment. Air is also handled through an automated control system.

Continuous progress included timers in all the dressing rooms, toilets and showers. There are motion sensors throughout the building. A remote cooler was installed to reduce chiller time in the sound rack and amp rooms.

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