Crawling around in Factory Theatre’s nether regions

Anthony Marshall, who is in the thick of doing energy audits for Creative Trust’s Toronto’s Green Theatres program, had us on the edge of our seats as he told us  about his recent visit backstage (and back-backstage) at Factory Theatre.

I think we are not exaggerating in saying that Anthony will never again think working in “show business” is glamorous.

But what’re a few leaky windows, some nonfunctioning radiators, and a couple of mystery spaces? Nothing that can’t be fixed, thereby reducing energy usage and costs.

Sometimes, the fix really is quick and easy. Anthony told us that Factory and others who use hot water radiators could install heat reflector panels behind the radiators to stop the loss of energy through exterior walls; these are available for free through an incentive program at Enbridge.

In other cases, the solution is much less obvious. It turns out that spraying insulation into the roof of heritage buildings is not always recommended because the roof needs to be allowed to “breathe” (as one of our building managers joked, hers “hyperventilates”.)  Insulating in some cases can create condensation which could over time damage heritage features like plaster ceilings, moldings and medallions.

Anthony, who is rapidly becoming an expert on the unique characteristics of heritage buildings, is creating a report of common findings and recommendations after he has completed all the audits.  We’re hoping this report becomes a resource that other companies can use as a starting point when looking at their own buildings, and that it builds interest, knowledge, and comfort around making Toronto’s theatres greener and more energy efficient.

We’ll be discussing the recommendations of our energy audits at a Facilities Roundtable later this summer, to be held at one of Toronto’s newest, almost completed renovated venues: Coleman Lemieux Compagnie at The Citadel, 304 Parliament Street.

We’ll also be hosting some staff from the Toronto Energy Office’s Better Building Partnership, George Canetti and Irina Rozin, whose interest and active participation in our quest to assist companies to identify energy-saving repairs and upgrades has been a delight. They’re eager to help us understand and access the programs and incentives that will help make these long term investments in our spaces – and in reducing Toronto’s carbon footprint – possible.

If any of you have experience and knowledge to share, let us know by commenting on Facebook.

Jini Stolk

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