Case Study – Dunamaise Arts Centre

Subject Areas: Heating, Lighting, Water

Sector: Hospitality and Leisure


The Dunamaise Arts Centre and Theatre in Portlaoise provides theatre, cinema and arts for the town and county community. The auditorium can seat 240, and the centre also has a café/bar, exhibition space and an arts workshop area.

The centre was awarded its €coMerit in September 2010, and technical manager Nick Anton explains the environmental improvements which have been achieved to date.


We reviewed the lighting arrangements throughout the centre, and first we identified a number of areas, notably back-of-house corridors and also the café area, which were excessively lit. With these areas it was a simple matter of removing excess lightbulbs to provide a more appropriate level of lighting and at the same time reduce our electricity bills.

We then looked at the types of lamp we had. Most areas already had energy-efficient lamps, but we also had a mix of less efficient units. In these cases we looked at the cost of running each lamp; the cost of installing a more efficient alternative; and the money the new lamp would save.

We then prioritised the lamps which would give us the best return for our money. We replaced our halogen spotlamps with LED units, which were almost 90% more efficient, although quite expensive to buy.

An important additional benefit of going through this process was that it made us all much more aware of the cost of running lights, and that in turn made us much better at switching them off when they weren‟t needed.

In all, we spent €500 on lighting improvements. We saved €3,400 on our annual electricity bill through reducing our usage by 15%. We estimate that about half of that saving was due to the lighting improvements. The other half was down to our increased energy awareness.


This was a revelation to us. Because we don‟t pay for our water, in the past we hadn‟t given it much attention. That changed with our €coMerit.

We started by reviewing our water arrangements and our records of water usage.

The gents toilets had fill-and-flush urinals which were operating 24/7, even when we were closed. We installed a control unit to solve that problem.

We found that some of our toilet cisterns had faulty valves or had the overflows incorrectly set, such that they had a continual, albeit small, flow. These were repaired, and we now monitor them rountinely.

Our wash basins have push-taps which automatically close after a time, making them good for water conservation. However, we found that some were set with excessive flow rates and flow times. Again, that was a simple matter of adjustment and repair. For the hot water taps, there was also, of course, an energy saving.

At our worst, we used almost 12 cubic metres of water in one day. We now average only 2 cubic metres per day. A colossal saving, achieved through simple common sense measures.

As a result, we now dose our water system with 80% less salt solution, saving us €600 per year.


The severe winter of 2010/11 highlighted the shortcomings of our building.

Our glass front doors had gaps all round. We measured the gaps and found they were equivalent to a hole the size of an A4 sheet of paper. We have installed new wooden framed doors giving a proper draught proof seal when closed. This allowed us to reduce the temperature in the cafe and foyer which was unduly high to compensate for the constant in-flow of cold air.

We also separated the Gallery and Studio areas upstairs with a dividing wall, so we can now control the heating in these areas independently. The insulation on our ventilation trunking had fallen into bad repair and has been replaced.

Our next task is to insulate the accessible hot water pipework throughout the building. We look forward to measuring our oil savings this winter.