The Saint John Theatre Company is a non-profit organization that produces stage plays at Saint John’s Imperial Theatre. The company exists to provide engaging theatre for its audience and exposure, development, and training to its community-based performers, technicians, and volunteers.
Since it was established in 1990, the company has prepared for productions when and wherever possible, spreading rehearsals, casting, costumes, set construction, and administration across multiple locations throughout the city. These challenging logistics led the company to purchase its own building; an early 1900s two storey in the city’s uptown, which had been vacant for six years.
While researching the programs that were available to help fund the project they learned about Efficiency New Brunswick’s Energy Smart Program for commercial building retrofits. They took the first step in the program and had an energy evaluation on the building to identify recommended energy efficiency upgrades and the potential for energy savings.
During a total renovation of the building envelope they incorporated many energy efficiency upgrades including: sealing exterior walls, replacing windows and doors with energy efficient models, replacing the old heating system with a new high efficiency natural gas central heating system, installing a new heat recovery ventilation system and energy efficient lighting. The Theatre Company also upgraded their roof insulation to R30, a major improvement to the old roofing system which was in poor condition and had no insulation.
The Saint John Theatre Company invested $173,834.16 in upgrades and will save $5829 each year. It is projected that the upgrades will save about 370 GJ in energy, a 36.5% reduction and cuts the building’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 tonnes- the equivalent of taking almost seven cars off the road.
The chair of the construction project, Brian Goodwin, says, “as a non-profit owner we have an inherent need/desire to become as energy efficient as possible. Every dollar spent on energy is one that could have been spent on theatre related programming. Efficiency NB was one of our earliest supporters. There were a number of times early in the project where we wondered if we were on the right track and Efficiency NB’s support kept us focused and the project moving forward”.
Part of the theatre company’s operation has already moved into the building and are experiencing many benefits of the improved energy efficiency. The new heating system has room based controls so they are better able to control building temperature on a room by room basis. The heat recovery ventilation system provides better air quality and there is a significant improvement in the working environment for employees, members, as well as the visiting public. As they settle in and become more accustomed with the building the company hopes to find more ways to reduce its environmental impact.