(Energy-efficient) Lights, Camera, Action! A lighting renovation at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theatre

Fox marquee light change-sm

Leigh Varley contributed to this article.

The Fox Theatre was the first historic landmark to join the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC), a presidential initiative that challenges commercial building owners to reduce energy and water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. Southface, the ABBC’s technical partner, performed an initial assessment of the Fox Theatre and made recommendations on the most cost-effective route to reach the goals outlined by the program.

During the initial assessment, Southface engineers recommended a major lighting renovation to replace incandescent light bulbs throughout the theatre with energy-efficient LED bulbs. This $100,000 renovation is currently underway. Over the summer, the Fox kicked off the project by replacing 4,330 incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs in the iconic Fox marquee, in shadowboxes on the facade of the building as well as the arcade surrounding the building and in back of house areas including dressing rooms and offices. A total of more than 5,500 bulbs will be replaced by next spring.

The Fox Theatre received funding for half of the renovation through Grants to Green, a partnership between Southface, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the Kendeda Fund, that provides technical expertise and funding to nonprofit organizations in the 23-county Atlanta region. The program helps local nonprofits improve their energy and water efficiency, thereby reducing their environmental impact as well as their facility operation costs. The theatre is receiving additional fox theater LED install_008-sm1funding through the Georgia Power Commercial Rebate Program, an incentive program that helps offset the cost of energy-efficient equipment upgrades.

The Fox will use in-house staff to complete the renovation, and with funding assistance from Grants to Green as well as  the Georgia Power Commercial Rebate Program, the theatre is anticipating a return on investment within a year. The Fox is expected to reduce the electricity currently used by the 4,330 bulbs by 80 percent simply by replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. As a result, the Fox Theatre is projected to save over $14,000 in electricity costs annually. The forecasted savings are expected to increase when all 5,500 LED bulbs are installed. The Fox plans to invest these savings into other energy and water efficiency projects recommended by Southface.

fox theater LED install_023-1Through this major lighting renovation and several other on-going projects, such as restroom fixture upgrades, as well as potential future projects including a chiller replacement and an expansion of their building automation system, the Fox Theatre is expected to exceed its commitment of reducing energy and water consumption by 20 percent. The Fox Theatre, a historic and iconic Atlanta landmark, has demonstrated that historic buildings have potential to become more sustainable while still maintaining their historic integrity.

Come see the changes for yourself – join us for the 16th annual Visionary Dinner on October 1, 2014 at the fabulous Fox Theatre. This event supports Southface’s mission to promote sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through programs such as Grants to Green.


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