Saving Money on Your New Auditorium

By Tony Mesa and Dave Perkins

Traditionally, auditoriums represent some of the most expensive spaces within schools, yet they tend to be used the least. In addition, due to budget constraints, they are rarely built large enough for the school’s needs.

So the challenge is twofold: How to optimize the dollars spent and increase the use of the space. The solution lies in using approaches to reduce initial construction and ongoing operating costs.

In working with schools across the country, we discovered the following important cost-cutting strategies to consider when building auditoriums.

Reduce lighting costs by using more efficient lighting fixtures. Even modest efficiency improvements to the proposed lighting system can mean substantial savings in electricity costs. Install high-efficiency lighting systems such as T-8, compact fluorescent, or metal halide lighting fixtures. Use LED lighting systems for more than just aisle and exit lighting -- use them for wall and area lighting, too. LED systems have the added advantage of low ongoing maintenance costs.

Install occupancy sensors and time clocks so lights are automatically turned on and off as needed. Also, install dimming sensors, which automatically reduce the lighting levels when natural daylight is available in the auditorium. While these measures may involve some additional construction costs, the added expenses will be more than recouped in reduced operating costs. In addition, federal, state, and utility company energy savings programs may be available to pay for some or all of the costs of installing these new high-efficiency systems.

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