The Theatre Royal Bath, which has been located in the centre of world heritage site Bath since 1805, has a storied history. Destroyed by a fire in the mid-nineteenth-century, it needed to be rebuilt. During World War Two, it also survived the extensive bombing of Bath during the Blitz. The Theatre Royal has taken on many guises, but now, for the first time, it's going green, with an aim to reduce its carbon footprint by 30%.
Balancing historical conservation with carbon-reduction
A £2.35 million refurbishment of the Theatre Royal's main house was completed last year, and finding ways to make the theatre more energy-efficient was high on the list of priorities. However, as a historical landmark and Grade II* listed building, the theatre is subject to particularly stringent building restrictions. Balancing historical conservation with carbon-reduction meant choosing energy-saving equipment that remained visually discreet and would not damage the delicate fabric of the building.
Another challenge faced by the theatre was its chaotic energy management system. Over the past twenty years, two 'satellite' theatres have opened under the umbrella of the Theatre Royal. The Ustinov Studio, a smaller, 120-seat theatre, and the Egg, a children's theatre, are located in annexes of the Theatre Royal. The heating and ventilation systems of the main house, the Ustinov and the Egg were previously each controlled locally, from different control panels, making it difficult to tweak the heating and ventilation controls in real time.
Using existing systems and cabling
E3 Consulting Engineers, the Bath-based consultant that oversaw the services design elements of the refurbishment project, prioritised upgrading the Theatre Royal's heating and ventilation system, in order to monitor operations more effectively and create a centralised control hub. A Priva Building Management System (BMS) was selected for the job, due to the ease of installation and commissioning. The Priva system offers backwards compatibility and integration with other manufacturers' systems. In the case of historical buildings, because the system does not require screened cabling, it can utilise existing BMS cabling, thereby safeguarding the building's fabric, and saving on capital expenditure.
Radio frequency technology
In July-August 2010, Alpha Control Services, a Priva Partner company, carried out the installation, working to a deadline-driven schedule, in order to finish the project during the theatre's two-month refurbishment closure period. Alpha installed three internet-compatible controllers from the Priva Compri HX range, plus eight RF (radio frequency) sensors at various locations throughout the theatre's main auditorium. By using radio frequency technology, there was no need to disturb the walls and ceiling with rewiring works - another important conservation consideration.