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Four Rivers Cultural Center takes control of energy use

Nonprofit invests in energy efficiency to cut costs and save time

ONTARIO, Ore. — August 12, 2015 — Four Rivers Cultural Center, a nonprofit cultural facility, has taken a modern approach to energy management to save energy, control overhead costs and improve productivity for employees.

The cultural center operates in an 81,000-square-foot facility that houses a museum, offices, art gallery, conference center, seven classrooms and the student services department for Treasure Valley Community College. A busy slate of diverse activities has a major impact on the building’s energy consumption. For years, the cultural center operated with its original 1997-era thermostat controls that needed to be adjusted manually. With approximately 30 individual thermostats spread across the facility, it took hours for the staff of five to update heating and cooling controls based on the daily schedule.

“We had a hard time making everything work together,” said Brandon MacKenzie, marketing manager, Four Rivers Cultural Center. “Sometimes thermostats would be missed or wouldn’t be adjusted properly so we were often wasting energy by heating or cooling spaces we didn’t need to. Plus, the daily management of this system was very time consuming for a staff of our size.”

At an outreach event co-sponsored by Energy Trust of Oregon and Cascade Natural Gas, Four Rivers staff learned about ways the nonprofit could save on its energy bills. The cultural center installed a programmable thermostat control system that allows staff to manage heating and cooling throughout the building from one central location. In addition to saving energy and money, the new controls have reduced five hours of work per week to just 20 minutes, freeing employees to manage other jobs.

Energy Trust provided a cash incentive of $5,888 toward the energy-saving investment. Four Rivers expects the new building controls to save more than 2,900 therms of natural gas and more than $2,700 on annual energy costs. The nonprofit is reducing its electric bill, too, and earned cash incentives from Idaho Power for upgrades estimated to save 28,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

“As a nonprofit, our budget is very finely managed,” continued MacKenzie. “Saving money on energy means we have funds to make aesthetic improvements, update neglected rooms and infrastructure and even replace basic equipment such as chairs and tables. The overall result means a more positive perception of our facility in our community and the increased rentals and support that comes with it.”

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save $1.9 billion on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at or call 1-866-368-7878.

Category: Commercial/Not-for-profit