Energy Case Study: Discovery North Bay



In 2016, ArtsBuild Ontario offered a one-time grant for energy conservation projects, as part of our Energy Conservation Program. We were pleased to offer the grant to eight arts organizations, all taking on a new renovation or project that would result in lowering their monthly energy use.

One of our grant recipients was the Discovery North Bay Museum in North Bay, Ontario. Discovery North Bay completed a lighting retrofit project which saw 11 metal halide lights on the lower floor of the museum replaced with a more energy efficient alternative. We spoke with Naomi Rupke, Museum Director and Curator at Discovery North Bay about the impact this project had on their organization and energy costs.


The Discovery North Bay Museum is located in a historic Canadian Pacific train station in downtown North Bay. Built in 1903, the station was restored in 2004 and is now home to the museum’s exhibitions, education programs and rental spaces for the community.

Discovery North Bay conducted an energy audit in 2015 that confirmed what they already knew – the metal halide bulbs on the lower floor of the facility needed to be replaced. Metal halide bulbs are a high consumption, low efficiency light source. The museum needed a light source that would not only be energy and cost-efficient, but would contribute to the atmosphere of the museum.

The museum had previously completed some projects to increase efficiency, including new air conditioners and upgrades to HVAC. They also replaced lighting on the second floor where the frequently occupied administrative offices and rental spaces are located. The 2015 energy audit identified that replacing the metal halide bulbs – a small, low cost project – would have major energy saving implications for the organization. “It was a few thousand dollars to have that big of a change,” says Naomi, “that made it an obvious priority.”


Transitioning the metal halide lights was an easy project for Discovery North Bay. An electrician had provided suggestions for an LED solution that would work well with the museum’s high ceiling and ductwork – Director and Curator Naomi Rupke praises the benefits of consulting with professionals in early stages of the project. The lights needed to be dropped down from the ceiling, but having found a compatible solution, the replacement bulbs were installed in one morning, meaning regular operations were scarcely affected.

“It was probably the simplest project I’ve ever overseen,” says Naomi, “there was only one step to the project so it really did go according to plan.”


During their 2015 energy audit, Discovery North Bay projected replacing the first floor lights would see an annual energy cost savings of $1,000/year. After replacing the 11 metal halide bulbs with an LED alternative, Discovery North Bay saved roughly 100-200 kWh overall per month when compared with the previous year.

While the dollar savings weren’t quite where they had been projected, Naomi cites variables with a large facility, such as weather and hydro costs as responsible for the difference. “The cost for hydro was a little higher this year,” says Naomi, “it ended up being the same amount of money but we would have been paying more without the new lights for sure.”


The biggest impact the project had, says Naomi, was in the overall environment of the museum. The previous bulbs, despite consuming so much energy, gave off very little light and did not contribute to the atmosphere of the museum. “Even with the large amount of energy being consumed, it was actually pretty dark in the museum… the displays weren’t properly lit,” says Naomi. New lighting has led to positive comments from visitors, staff and volunteers that the environment is better and brighter, and exhibits can be seen more clearly.

The lighting project worked in conjunction with a larger redesign of the lower floor of the museum. “Without proper lighting,” says Naomi, “it would have hindered what we were trying to do. Putting in new exhibits without having proper lighting would have been a problem.” On top of the improved lighting, the decrease in consumption has been significant for Discovery North Bay. For a non-profit organization operating in a historic railway station, “…everything you can do to limit your consumption is huge for keeping things manageable,” says Naomi. “We’re always looking for ways to cut down on costs without cutting corners. [These improvements] will contribute to our sustainability as an organization.”


Focused on sustainability, Discovery North Bay recently received an Ontario Trillium grant to replace the windows in the museum. The windows were last replaced in 1979 and the building has over 100 windows. These new properly sealed windows will reduce heating and cooling significantly for the museum, contributing to further energy savings.

Energy Case Study: The Royal Conservatory of Music



In 2016, ArtsBuild Ontario offered a one-time grant for energy conservation projects, as part of our Energy Conservation Program. We were pleased to offer the grant to eight arts organizations, all taking on a new renovation or project that would result in lowering their monthly energy use.

One of our grant recipients was the Royal Conservatory of Music located in Toronto, Ontario. They completed a lighting retrofit project in their building, the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning. Several months after completing the project, we followed up with Martin Torns, Building Systems Manager, to see how the lighting retrofit has reduced their energy use and costs so far.


The Royal Conservatory of Music has been a long-standing anchor arts organization in Toronto and the country at large. The organization took on a major capital project in 2008, expanding its historic McMaster Hall and constructing what is now the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning. This project included upgrades to their lighting and HVAC system in their heritage building as well as construction of a new concert hall, studio and teaching facilities.

The Conservatory has since taken on small energy projects in their heritage space, and next on the list was replacing florescent lights with LEDs in areas where lights are required to stay on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These areas included stairwells, the loading dock and back stage, all of which must remain lit to meet safety and code requirements for the building. “Anywhere the lights were on 24 hours a day were the best places to do this and gave us the most bang for our buck,” notes Martin. “It’s an easy project that really will go unnoticed by most people, which is what you want.”


There were some expected and unexpected challenges when taking on this lighting retrofit. Since the Conservatory was not completing an entire lighting retrofit of their facility at this time, the first consideration was matching the colour of new LED lights with older florescent lights. LEDs often have a cooler and industrial tone, which can contrast the warm light of older bulbs. They settled on integrated LED 18 watt tubes, which were only one notch cooler than their older lights.

The LED 18 watt tubes were also 98% compatible with all ballasts on the market. As they worked on replacing the lights throughout their building, they soon discovered the new tubes did not fit the stairwell fixtures. This added a cost of $400 to replace the ballasts in the stairwells so they could complete their lighting retrofit.

On the bright side, the new 18 watt LEDs provided more light than anticipated. While the Conservatory planned to replace two tubes per fixture, they realized that using only one LED tube provided enough light to remain within code. “We were able to go down to one tube instead of using two tubes which was a huge saving,” shares Martin. The Conservatory went from using 64 watts to 18 watts per fixture, and in turn expanded the retrofit to more areas of the building with the leftover tubes.


The Conservatory projected that retrofitting these lights would see an energy reduction of 25,509 kWh and an annual hydro cost savings of $3,800 per year. After replacing 358 florescent lights with 190 LED lights in 24-hour locations, the Conservatory has saved roughly $5,700 on a $10,000 project. From January 2016 to January 2017, they effectively reduced their energy consumption by 73,000 kWh.

Despite these energy savings, their energy costs have gone up by 7%. The Conservatory currently pays a wholesale hydro rate, which fluctuates throughout the year. Even with energy cost reductions, it is hard to say what impact this will have on a large facility like the Royal Conservatory of Music.


One of the first Save on Energy submissions the Conservatory made was six year ago, after they had completed the bulk of construction on their heritage building. Martin notes: “I was able to research what was in there before as far as lighting and HVAC, and I was able to get $50,000 back on that retrofit.” The Conservatory continues to implement smaller energy projects, and are currently planning to retrofit their HVAC system with support from Save on Energy. The estimated cost of the project is $80,000, which means they would be looking at a potential rebate of $40,000 from Save On Energy incentive programs. “Arts grants and Save on Energy have been great programs that have supported these projects,” shares Martin.

The Royal Conservatory of Music plans to continue looking at replacing light fixtures with LEDs and take advantage of hydro incentives. Plans for future energy projects include retrofitting their house lighting, that is on 24-hours as well, and theatre lighting.

ArtsBuild Responds to the 2017 Ontario Budget


To no surprise cultural infrastructure was absent from the 2017 Ontario budget presented on Thursday April 27th. It is disappointing that the provincial government is not putting forward the investment needed to support projects province wide. Without significant matching funding from the provincial government, organizations might not be able to access the new investment on the federal level through Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. The current capital investment available from Ontario Trillium Foundation, once per year, is not sufficient to support the infrastructure needs province-wide.

There are other elements of the budget that might have implications on our cultural spaces, we will understand more as the fiscal year rolls on.

There was mention of Community Hubs initiative that the Province has been executing since 2015 which will see surplus schools being made accessible to the public benefit sector. This initiative could result in seeing arts and culture organizations finding spaces in these new “hubs.” ABO is following this project so that we can remain informed about the implications it might have for our organizations seeking space.

The budget referenced  their proposed Fair Hydro Plan[1] that would see a reduction in charges of about 25%. This savings could apply to up to 500,000 small businesses province wide. We are interested to learn when this plan is executed if these savings are in fact passed on to our small to mid-sized organizations. They go further to describe measures that might support businesses[2], but it will likely support large industries – much larger energy consumers than our mid-size to large organizations.

Accessibility Directorate got a budget increase from 17 to 20 million[3], but there is no mention of any programs that might support accessibility infrastructure beyond Ontario Trillium Foundation. Federal funds have been increased for the Enabling Accessibility Fund and we hope that this small increase to the Accessibility Directorate budget might include funds to be accessed for capital infrastructure to match the federal funds that might soon be available.


We are excited to hear the new investment made to the Ontario Arts Council of 20 million over four years. We hope that this will go a long way in supporting our organizations. This was not included in the formal budget, but instead announced separately by the Honourable Eleanor McMahon.

The budget for the Ministry of Tourism Culture and Sport (MTCS) has been reduced from $1.45 billion to $1.39 billion[4]. This is disappointing news given MTCS just released their Culture Strategy in July 2016. Although we do not have the specific details around where these cuts will be realized, a reduction in budget does not demonstrate a significant commitment in executing this strategy. We hope to understand how this will implicate the culture portfolio within Tourism, Culture and Sport.

We did not see a written mention of Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) budget, but we are hopeful that the 25 million reallocated to the Capital 150 fund will be reinvested back to OTF. Because this was not confirmed or mentioned in the 2017 Budget, we reached out to MTCS for confirmation. According to MTCS this decision has not yet been finalized, so we cannot report for certain that the budget allocation has been recommitted but we are hopeful as other reports through ONN and Arts Advocate have reported that this is confirmed through their Ministry of Finance connections.

As provincial funding remains absent, ArtsBuild will continue to advocate for our organizations by demonstrating the need for a significant matching fund at the provincial level.

To end on a positive note based on the open data available through the Ontario Trillium Foundation for capital projects through Ontario 150, under the program area: Inspired People, it looks like 50 projects were supported ranging from $5,600 to $500,000, for a total investment of $3,842,500. The projects looked to be evenly distributed throughout the catchment areas.

Finally, we would like to congratulate Place Des Arts on receiving 3.5 million from the provincial government towards the building of a new arts centre in Sudbury. This was a special request, not from a specific granting program. We have been in touch with the ROCS since 2011 on this project and we are so pleased that they have confirmed the investment of municipal and provincial funds towards the construction of their new space – congratulations!

You can view and download the 2017 Budget here.

[1] 2017 Ontario Budget, A Stronger, Healthier Ontario. The Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance. Budget Papers. Page 20

[2] Ibid. Page 23

[3] Ibid. Page 240

[4] Ibid. Page 241

Get More out of your SpaceFinder Listing!

SpaceFinder’s FREE Booking Features


Make it easy for renters to book your space!

We understand that all space bookings are different and range from simple to very complex. We also know that every organization uses different systems to manage space bookings. To help you streamline the booking process, SpaceFinder has three great listing features to help you market your space and reach new renters! As an added bonus, when you enable these features your listing gets boosted in search results!

See how you can promote available rental times, review rental requests and accept payment using SpaceFinder’s free listing features!

Learn more about SpaceFinder in Canada!

1. Share your Calendar and Promote Available Rental Times

Did you know one of the top barriers to new renters contacting your venue is uncertainty around whether or not your space is available?

Uploading your booking calendar makes it easier for new renters to discover you by promoting your up-to-date empty time slots. Is your space only available to book in the evenings? Use the calendar to promote available time slots!

Listings with uploaded calendars also receive priority search ranking, and there is no fee!

Check out the SpaceFinder Knowledge Base for handy trouble-shooting tips!

2.  Take Booking Requests through SpaceFinder

Get booking inquiries straight to your email inbox with SpaceFinder’s FREE Space Request feature.

Space requests are online forms submitted via SpaceFinder by a renter interested in booking your space. The Space Request button streamlines the booking process for the renter and the venue. Don’t worry though – Space Requests are just that: a request. Your booking contact person still has the ability to vet the request and follow-up with the prospective renter.

As an added bonus, the Space Request feature allows you to collect and export your rental data! This data can come in handy when you have something relevant and exciting to share with renters, like promotions, membership opportunities or special events! This data also allows you to track rental trends – great for fine-tuning your target rental audience!

3. Online Payment Engine 

Online booking is a great way to offer convenient payment options to renters and streamline your communications. Once you’ve completed your hourly rates form and enabled Space Requests (optional, but encouraged!), you can authorize your account to accept credit cards. There is a low transaction fee associated with each processed transaction.

The Booking Engine Feature allows you to take credit card payment online, over the phone and in-person. Revenues are deposited directly to your bank account and receipts are emailed directly to the renter. Best of all – there are NO monthly payments and NO fees for refunds!

Have any questions about SpaceFinder’s free booking features? Contact Eilidh at

SpaceFinder Toronto Reaches 600 Listings!

SpaceFinder Toronto uncovers the city’s creative spaces with 600+ listings

For immediate release: Toronto, ON: SpaceFinder Toronto is making its mark in Toronto’s creative sector with over 600 space listings on the site.  Over the last two and a half years, SpaceFinder has become a “go to” site for artists in search of creative space in the city.

SpaceFinder offers more options for artists in search of creative space. SpaceFinder Toronto launched in November 2014 and has since seen hundreds of venues open their doors to the city’s creative community. SpaceFinder Toronto has a wide range of space listings, including Dancemakers, The Music Gallery, Comedy Bar, Crow’s Theatre, Second City, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto Zoo, and over 100 spaces from the Toronto Public Library.

SpaceFinder is FREE to list and FREE to search. Created by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization based in New York, SpaceFinder is a matchmaking tool for renters looking for creative space, and spaces looking to promote their rentals. Artists and renters can search for creative workspaces that meet their needs based on location, price, amenities and up-to-date availability.

SpaceFinder is improving creative space use across the city. Like an Airbnb for artists, SpaceFinder is providing artists with alterative spaces, while giving venues a platform to promote their rentals. The tool presents a solution for creatives in search of space by illuminating more options across the city. Any venue that welcomes artists in their space can list their rental on SpaceFinder.

The site is helping small-to-medium creative venues earn more revenue from space rentals. SpaceFinder is driving space rentals, and in some cases, has doubled rental revenue for arts spaces – like Hub14. As self-sustaining studio and performance art incubator, Hub14’s mission is to provide affordable space to artists. Since listing their studio on SpaceFinder Toronto, their rental revenues have increased by 200%. SpaceFinder provides a cost free way for arts venues to become more sustainable by helping them reach a wider renter audience.

The site is also helping artists and creative spaces make connections. Vikki Velenosi, manager of The Box in Toronto, met Kasey Dunn who runs The Attic through SpaceFinder Toronto. They decided to merge their organizations under the new name of Brick&Mortar and together provide artists with affordable rental space in three locations across the city. SpaceFinder Toronto has helped increase their rental reach in the arts community and provides a tool to manage their rentals.

SpaceFinder Toronto was launched in November 2014 in partnership with the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA), ArtsBuild Ontario and WorkInCulture. SpaceFinder is currently active in three Ontario regions, including Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo Region. The site is also active in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, as well as 15 U.S. cities.

Have a space to list? Looking for space? Visit

Quick Facts

  • SpaceFinder Toronto has accumulated $118,000+ in rental requests through the site’s booking request button – a special listing feature for venues. This does not include the emails and phone call spaces receive after listing on the site.
  • SpaceFinder Toronto has seen 38,000 users who are spending an average of five minutes on the site.
  • Over 600 creative space listings are on SpaceFinder Toronto
  • Performance space is the most frequently searched by site users followed by special events and classes
  • SpaceFinder Toronto is free to list and free to search:
  • ArtsBuild Ontario and WorkInCulture are presenting a Learning Series around the topic of creative space rentals. Learn more:


“It has been fantastic to see such uptake of this tool and to see that it is having a real impact on our organizations in Toronto. Along with our partners WorkInCulture and Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, we envisioned a tool that would impact both our artists and our creatives spaces, and we are proud to see it is doing both!”

Lindsay Golds, Executive Director of ArtsBuild Ontario


TAPA is very pleased to be part of the founding SpaceFinder Toronto team. Since we have been offering SpaceFinder Toronto as a new service the feedback from TAPA members has been positive, and this has become a valuable new tool for our community. I have no doubt that SpaceFinder will continue to grow across the country.

Jacoba Knaapen, Executive Director of Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA


“The WorkInCulture team is thrilled, along with our partners at ArtsBuild Ontario and the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, to be celebrating SpaceFinder Toronto’s 600th space listing. What started as ‘that sounds like a good idea’ has become a much valued resource for both space renters and space seekers in the arts and beyond. Congrats to all.”

Diane Davy, Executive Director of WorkInCulture

About Us

ArtsBuild Ontario is the only organization in Ontario dedicated to realizing long-term solutions for building, managing and financing the sustainable arts facilities needed in Ontario communities. ArtsBuild provides tools, training and resources that support the development of sustainable creative spaces such as theatres, galleries, concert halls, museums and other arts facilities.




Media Contacts:

Alex Glass, Program Manager

ArtsBuild Ontario

Office: 519.880.3670 ext 103

Mobile: 226.792.4849