In 2004, Proctor’s Theatre launched a $29 million expansion. The need to replace and improve its 50-year-old mechanical system prompted theater management to opt for a cogenerated district heating system, which allows it to sell heating and cooling to other businesses in the downtown Schenectady arts and entertainment district.

Since 1926, Proctor’s Theatre - an historic, beautifully restored theater located in the heart of downtown Schenectady, NY - has been known for presenting the very best in entertainment for New York’s Capital Region. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Proctor’s Theatre has seen its stage graced by such legendary performers from George Burns and Gracie Allen to national Broadway touring productions - and recentlyHairspray.

In 2004, the theatre launched a $29 million expansion. Fully completed last fall, this project - while carefully preserving the historic elements of the 2,700-seat theatre - greatly expanded the backstage area, allowed for larger-scale productions, and added two new theaters as well as the capacity to show 3-D wide screen films. The work also brought new eateries, shops, and offices into the complex.

Thinking Beyond The Stage

The project called for a new building to be built completely over part of the existing structure whose mechanical system was 50 years old, and the planned developments would more than double heating and cooling loads. The need for a completely new physical plant caused theater CEO Phillip Morris - who had previous experience with cogenerated district heating - to examine the possibility of an investment that would not only provide energy for heating and cooling of the theater, but also one that had the capacity to allow the theater to sell heating and cooling to other businesses in the downtown Schenectady arts and entertainment district.

Financial assistance of the New York State Energy Development Authority (NYSERDA), the support of State Legislator Paul Tonko, a positive study, and the support of local business people, resulted in Proctor’s Energy District Heating & Cooling System bringing online its first external customer this spring.

The plant called for industrial grade equipment with redundant capacity for assured reliability controlled 24/7 by a Trane Tracer Summit facility management system. At the heart of this environmentally responsible plant are two Model 1000 HS Section 1 high-pressure steam watertube boilers with Power Flame low NOx IFGR burners, manufactured by Unilux Advanced Manufacturing Company.

Joe Amato of M/E Engineering, located in Albany said, “This was our first district heat project. The choice of boilers was determined not only by the fact that they had to fit a lot of boiler horsepower into a very tight space requirement.”

Unilux and its sales representative Gus Stants, with Stants Combustion in Albany, worked hand in hand with all the project principals, offering technical assistance in order to help speed delivery of the boilers to replace expensive temporary equipment before the end of December 2005.

The boilers deliver steam to steam-to-water heat exchangers. The resulting hot water is then pumped throughout the system by way of an underground piping network throughout downtown Schenectady. Boiler room accessory equipment includes a Sellers deaerator, Penn separators, and TACO pumps and heat exchangers. Schenectady firms Shamrock Engineering and SRG provided structural design and architect design, respectively.

Neighborly Sharing

The district plan has provided maximum reliability, a reduction in both chemical use and greenhouse emissions, and, of course, energy savings. Additionally it eliminated the need for central plant equipment maintenance and construction, which freed up equipment space as a rentable area.

In warm weather months, Proctor’s District Energy is prepared to also supply cooling by distribution of chilled water to downtown buildings. Cooling equipment installed includes two 250-ton Trane absorption chillers and a 500-ton Trane screw chiller, a Dolphin cooling/water treatment tower, two Baltimore Aircoil cooling towers, and electrical emergency backup by Kohler Generator. Slated for installation this year are two United Technologies Company cogeneration units.

“We are especially delighted to not only bring reduced energy costs to our downtown neighbors, but to have a local manufacturer’s equipment featured at the core of both our theater expansion and district heat plan. Unilux made special efforts to get their boilers on line and they have been running well ever since,” Morris said. According to an energy audit provided to a prospective client of the system (a five-story, 61,000-sq-ft downtown hotel), the hard numbers on 20 years’ estimated energy savings exceed $330,000.ES