Walton Arts Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas
The Walton Arts Center (WAC) was built through the efforts of a public/private partnership of art patrons, the City of Fayetteville, and the University of Arkansas. More than $7 million in private funds were raised, allowing the center to open debt-free on April 26, 1992. Beyond serving the arts, the 1,200-seat center revitalized a moribund street into a bustling entertainment district of upscale restaurants, condos, and one-of-a-kind shops.
Replacing Phased-Out Technology
While 20 years is hardly old for a building, it’s ancient in terms of energy efficiencies. At the WAC, outdated incandescent lighting and T12 fluorescent tubes illuminated offices, lobbies, and hallways. Old HVAC system controls resulted in heat pumps and chill pumps fighting each other by running simultaneously. Aesthetically, the lighting was also showing its age. Track lighting in the lobby cast harsh shadows. Employees in the ticket booth complained of headaches, a result of 20th Century overhead lights clashing with 21st Century computer screens.
Chief Operating Officer Terri Trotter and Jennifer Carter, who chairs the center’s sustainability committee, contacted Clear Energy in hopes of reducing energy use and saving money. “We had money in cash reserves earning less than one percent interest,” Terri said. “Clear Energy conducted an audit for us and found several projects we could invest in that would reap enough savings to recoup our investment in under four years. It was clear that type of investment was a better use of our funds. Now, we can put the savings back into our programs.”
The center is named for the Walton family, founders of Walmart Stores, Inc., which has its corporate headquarters in nearby Bentonville. Through WAC’s relationship with Wamart, Terri and Jennifer learned of Clear Energy, a Fayetteville-based company that has done extensive work for the retailer through its Supplier Energy Efficiency Program (SEEP).
Working with Clear Energy
Jennifer met with representatives from Clear Energy, and together they toured area buildings that have undergone comprehensive Clear Energy retrofits. “They spent a lot of time working with us before we decided to use their services. We really appreciated the attention and hands on approach,” Jennifer said.
Clear Energy then conducted an audit and came back with five recommendations for upgrades in three facilities: the 55,000 sq. ft. WAC building; Just off Center (JOC), a 4,000 sq. ft. office building; and Nadine Baum Studios, a 25,000 sq. ft. building that houses art studios and a small theater.
Lighting and HVAC work has been completed. The work includes:
- WAC, JOC & Nadine Baum: retrofitted 1,100 T12 overhead fluorescent fixtures with an efficient T8 system and replaced incandescent track lighting lamps with LEDs. Also implemented lighting controls through occupancy sensing, improved phase balancing, and equipment standardizing strategies. Installed 84 occupancy sensors that instantly turn lights on when someone comes within 30 feet of a fixture, and switches off when rooms are empty. The sensors were placed in all JOC offices, restrooms, and in areas heavily used by the public.
- Nadine Baum Studios: retrofitted light fixtures and replaced residential style thermostats with a central control system that allows heating and cooling to be set back during unoccupied times, such as evenings and weekends. The new system also has the capability to sense occupancy and automatically shut off cooling or heating in individual spaces, thus eliminating unnecessary energy use.
All materials removed by the retrofits were 100% recycled.
Benefits Beyond Energy Savings
Jennifer said the new lighting has been a hit with WAC employees. “One thing I appreciated is that Clear Energy offered us two testing periods with different lights in our Garden Lobby area. All the employees voted on which look they liked, and pretty much everyone agreed on what we chose,” she said.
Terri described the new lighting as “more daylight colored. It’s a real nice kind of a bright, crisp light that feels more like daylight.”
Jennifer said WAC employees were also appreciative of Clear Energy’s efforts to keep work-place disruptions to a minimum. “They were very accommodating in working around other people’s schedules. And being an arts center, we stage events at odd hours, day and night, and they were sensitive to that.”
Clear Energy is a product-neutral contractor who works with many suppliers to find the best prices and solutions. For this project, they used mostly products supplied by Osram Sylvania, Inc. because they offered the best combination of products, prices, and warranties.