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2014-06 Chilton School District Had Big Incentives to Change

First published on 30 May 2014 Posted in District News

In the summer of 2012, the Executive Director of the Engler Center for the Performing Arts (ECPA), Russ Rautmann, decided enough was enough with the high cost of operating the lighting systems in the performing arts center. The stage had been lit with 50, 750 watt halogen fixtures, with an additional 15, 1000 watt halogen fixtures to light the rear of the stage. These lights generated a great deal of heat, and were very expensive to burn and maintain. With these lights burning between 1900-2000 hours a year, it was an annual school district expense of $8,600.00 a year in electricity, and an estimated $7,999.00 in bulb, fixture replacement, and labor costs. That's a total operational cost of $16,599.00 for just the stage area. The seating area of the theatre consisted of 109, 250 watt incandescent light bulbs, and 36, 40 watt incandescent light bulbs in the sconce fixtures. These burned over 2000 hours per year. The estimated operational cost for these lights was over $10,000.00 in electricity, bulb, fixture replacement, and labor costs.

There is a large array of theatre lighting out in the market place, so Russ formed a research team comprised of current students, former students, and the ECPA's technical director. The decision was made to go with the latest in LED technology. LED technology that is produced right here in the great state of Wisconsin.

Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) in Middleton Wisconsin was established in 1975, when a few theater-technology students set out to make a better lighting control desk for the stage. They did, and now, many innovative lighting and rigging products later, ETC has grown to over 700 employees worldwide. They are proud to be a leader in the lighting industry, and the School District of Chilton is pleased to be partnering with them for our lighting needs. It has always been about finding a better way – working passionately to improve entertainment technologies in order to bring it to our great Engler Center performances.

Upgrades and retrofits of the magnitude we needed do not come without significant cost. Fortunately, the School District of Chilton has had a long-standing relationship with Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and Focus On Energy. During the 2012/2013 school year, the School District of Chilton was able to meet with WPS and Focus On Energy personnel to discuss taking advantage of grants and incentives that were available to schools and governmental agencies. Through our discussions, we found that if we bundled several projects in the District together, we would qualify for more incentive dollars. So with retrofits to theatre lighting, swimming pool lighting, and special education classroom lighting, along with variable speed frequency drives for the HVAC system, refrigeration upgrades, vending machine controls and a new boiler, the District was able to qualify for $87,836.00 in energy grants and incentives.

Upon completion of these projects, the School District of Chilton will save more than 22 kilowatts of energy demand, while saving more than 196,814 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 2,889 therms. This all sounds very technical, so to simplify the equation, the School District of Chilton will be saving enough energy to power 23 homes for one year! Not only will these upgrades save energy and money for the School District, they also make our schools environmentally-friendly. The annual environmental benefits are equivalent to offsetting 437 barrels of oil from being burned and removing 34 cars from the road. This will eliminate more than 366,984 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere. The School District also anticipates an estimated $82,779 of annual operational cost savings due to these upgrades.

Historically, the School District of Chilton has always researched ways to save money on operational costs. A continued partnership with Focus on Energy and Wisconsin Public Service will ensure that energy saving measures, for the District, will continue well into the future. Focus on Energy and Wisconsin Public Service assist school districts in identifying and evaluating energy saving opportunities. They also offer educational programs designed for school and governmental agencies to save money on their overall energy costs. The School District of Chilton has, and will continue, to take advantage of these educational opportunities and implement what they've learned into the ongoing management plan of the District facilities.

By: Russ Rautmann

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