Recognizing Wasted Energy Lowers Costs For Wisconsin Center District’s Milwaukee Theatre

Background and Goals

The Wisconsin Center District’s Milwaukee Theatre is Wisconsin’s largest and most elegant theatre. It is home to an extensive calendar of concerts, Broadway musicals, family shows and assemblies. When the Theatre determined that lighting in an underutilized area of the theater was causing unnecessary elevations to utility costs, Lemberg technicians were asked to evaluate and make recommendations for the situation.


The first step in determining the cause of elevated utility costs for the theatre was for a Lemberg project manager to take inventory of the current fixtures and research the energy output based on the current use. It was determined that a total of 76 light fixtures were operating in a back hall and stairway, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The fact that these fixtures were wired to be operating non-stop calculated to $5,727 in costs per year.

After the source of the energy issue was identified, Lemberg technicians worked in tandem with a certified lighting vendor to recommend a new lighting control system and fixtures. The new system would assist the theatre’s maintenance team with better monitoring and control of energy output, as well as identify areas where energy or lighting was being underutilized. 


The new lighting control system was complemented with the addition of new stairwell lights. The system allowed existing lights to now be controlled by a motion sensor at the door (occupancy sensor) and fixtures were added at stairways with controls to use 10% output when not occupied, and increase to only 50% output when the area was occupied.

The wireless function of the new system was a valuable feature because it did not require penetration of the finished walls and ceilings. Additionally, the theater experienced a $4,897 energy cost savings annually. 


With the help of Lemberg technicians, the Wisconsin Center District’s Milwaukee Theatre learned the value of evaluating energy systems on a routine basis to monitor the functionality based on cost and need. Making a moderate investment in new electrical technology resulted in substantial utility cost savings (compensating the installation costs within just a few years).