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Twin Cities' “Greenest” Theater

Brave New Workshop has a goal of making the Twin Cities the “greenest” theater community in the United States. This quirky Minneapolis sketch and improv comedy theater isn’t just talking the talk – they recently completed the largest LED retrofit in the history of the One-Stop Efficiency Shop!

Brave New Workshop has a goal of making the Twin Cities the “greenest” theater community in the United States. This quirky Minneapolis sketch and improv comedy theater isn’t just talking the talk – they recently completed the largest LED retrofit in the history of the One-Stop Efficiency Shop!

Sustainability is important for the Brave New Workshop (BNW). “We believe that it’s our  responsibility to continuously improve the impact our organization has on the world, ,” says BNW owner John Sweeney,  “That means not just the people on it, but includes taking care of the planet itself.”  The new BNW theater and event center at 824 Hennepin Avenue boasts many green touches, including organics recycling, hybrid events capabilities, and catering relationships supporting local and organic food sources..  So when it came to their energy use during last year’s building remodel, Sweeney and his team decided to take it to the next level with LEDs (light emitting diodes) - the next generation of energy efficient lighting.

With the help of the One-Stop Efficiency Shop, Brave New Workshop replaced over 90% of their lighting with LEDs.  The project is estimated to reduce their lighting costs by 80%  - over $18,000/year.  

 “I love working with the One-Stop Efficiency Shop,” enthused Seth Scott, local contractor with Monkey Wrench Productions that installed BNW's new lighting.  “They come in and walk the client through the process and make it as simple as they can.  Most clients think it’s a “too good to be true” program, and Mike [Verhulst, CEE lighting auditor] handles that very well.”  CEE also helped Brave New Workshop make their retrofit a reality with the City of Minneapolis Energy Business Loan Program.  “It would have been impossible for us to do this project without it,” said Sweeney.  

While LEDs have a higher up-front cost than older incandescent lighting, they can last up to 500 times longer than standard theatrical fixtures.  “In a theater with 100-plus fixtures, lamp costs are always a large hit to any budget, not to mention the labor that is involved in changing lamps and the landfill impact,” explained Seth.  “LEDs simply eliminate these costs.” 

BNW

Along with a theater, Brave New Workshop's new location is HQ for their Experimental Thinking Center (ETC), a flexible space for business events, holiday parties, training sessions and more.  With the old lights, staff would have to climb up to change a colored gel filter on each individual light. As contractor Seth Scott pointed out, “These filters burn through and deteriorate over time, and are a constant cost for most theaters – not to mention the labor that is involved in changing them.  By selecting a color-mixing LED fixture, they can eliminate the cost of these gels for good.”  The new LED lights allow staff to customize lighting with the push of a button. The savings aren’t just on the inside – Brave New Workshop also installed a state-of-the-art marquee which uses a paltry 9% of the energy used by similarly sized marquees.  

BNW

In partnership with the Minnesota Theater Alliance and Twin Cities Sustainable Theaters, Brave New Workshop will host the 2012 Sustainability in Theater conference April 30-May 1st in the ETC event venue. The conference will be streamed nationally and feature a number of sustainability experts sharing practical strategies for implementing greener theater practices.  CEE lighting auditors will be presenting on the One-Stop Efficiency Shop and energy efficiency resources.

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