VPAC’s architectural features are eco-friendly

Brian De Los Santos

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Maximizing natural light reduces operating costs. Photo Credit: Patrick Dilanchian / Assistant Photo Editor

The Valley Performing Arts Center, a $125 million state-of-the-art facility, may demand lower operating costs than other facilities of its size due to its green technology and building features.

“We always planned for it to be eco-friendly,” said Robert Bucker, dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication and executive director for the VPAC.  “It is an important part of the university’s agenda. Ecologically it is very good.”

Many of the materials used to build the facility were recycled or bought locally.  Marble used for the building’s exterior is from Mexico and Indonesia.

VPAC uses a combination of techniques to maximize efficiency and reduce energy costs, such as using glass windows in the lobby for natural light, installing energy-efficient lights that only turn on when a room is in a use, making bathroom fixtures low-flow to reduce the amount of water needed and distributing air conditioning and heat through under floor vents.

The landscape that surrounds the 163,000-square-foot building may also help reduce water usage Bucker said.

“We were conscious of both the environment and costs,” he added.  “We opted to create a building that is efficient on both ends.”

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County is another local state-of-the-art facility including a 2,000-seat concert hall, which is similar to VPAC’s natural light and stainless steel structure.  The Segerstrom Center’s floor plan is larger than VPAC’s.

According to the Segerstrom Center’s website, operating expenses for the center’s 2010 fiscal year was under $49 million, including center presentations, hall rental operations, education programs, interest and bond costs, and payment for management and general positions.

Because VPAC is so new, costs are still being calculated.

“We are at the front end of this and because the center is still not fully running, costs have not been figured out yet,” Bucker said, adding that a power bill may be coming this month.

Ticket revenue, staff salaries, facility usage and rentals are among the factors that help determine the running costs for the performance center.

A party consisting of local politicians and renowned artists celebrated VPAC’s grand opening Jan. 29, but the campus community is still moving in.

Students are taking classes in the facility, and the theater department is currently transferring equipment and office personnel.

CSUN radio station KCSN 88.5 FM will move into its new space in March.

The CSU system will take care of plant management.  Director of Physical Plant Management, Lynn Wiegers,  will oversee duties such as lighting and custodial work for VPAC.

“I cannot give an estimate or number of the costs because it’s too early to tell,” said Wiegers.