Ward Komorowski, the Johnson Controls director of facilities, walked toward the newly christened Johnson Controls World Sound Stage just after 7 a.m. this morning, mere hours before the Summerfest grounds open for 2013.
A worker is installing a panel to the bottom of the recently installed kiosk, but Komorowski tells him to stop. There’s a little more work to be done on the electric wiring. When the worker tells him it’s finished, Komorowski checks his watch. “Four hours early,” he says.
He wields an umbrella like a cane at some moments, and like a pointer at others – using the object to both ward off impending storms and point out the improvements the company has made to the stage, which include new LED lighting and a more efficient air conditioning unit.
In a former life, the stage was called the Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage and played host to Pat McCurdy, the BoDeans and Hanson last year. This year, the stage has new life – provided by a Johnson Controls sponsorship – and a new goal: raise awareness about energy efficiency.
The stage will save energy with the new lighting and air conditioning unit, produce energy with a small wind turbine and solar panels, and educate the public with a 70-inch screen that cycles through information about the stage. “It’s really about telling a story,” Komorowski says. And the kiosk does just that. The information is updated live with estimates of how much energy the stage has saved and generated.
The stage was the brainchild of some serious brainstorming sessions and quick thinking, Komorowski says. “By the time we started construction, we had 30 days to build it,” he says.
The LED lights will save 1.6 million watt hours just during Summerfest. The air conditioning unit will save 2.3 million watt hours. Komorowski and his team estimate a total energy savings of about 7,710,444 watt hours for the summer festival season. That’s enough power to generate a Fender Frontman amp for 21,418 hours. As of this morning, the stage had saved and generated about 4,500 watt hours since June 20. “We’re praying for more sunny days,” Komorowski says.