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Quinlan Visual Arts Center uses grant to reduce its lighting costs
New bulbs save money
Stephanie Diaz, left, and Margaret Tingley move a piece of art from the gallery at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center as they prepare the gallery for an upcoming show Monday afternoon. The Quinlan will be unveiling its new green gallery this Thursday at its opening reception with a new lighting project for its more than 220 lights that significantly reduces energy usage.

Winter Exhibitions

Opening reception and new energy-efficient gallery unveiling

When: 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St., Gainesville

For more information: 770-536-2575 or visit


The Quinlan Visual Arts Center is getting a little greener. But it’s not because of any new art display.

Last week, the center screwed in 220 energy-efficient LED lamps that will help reduce the amount of energy the gallery uses and the amount it spends on energy costs according to the center’s Executive Director Amanda McClure.

The new lights will not only help the environment, but they will save a little green for the center, too.

Overall the new bulbs will reduce the center’s energy costs by about $5,000 a year. The center plans to use the money it saves to help pay for new events and exhibitions.

In 2010, the center had an energy assessment performed by the Grants to Green partnership. The partnership provides nonprofit organizations in the Atlanta region with opportunities to renovate or build healthier workplaces that are also energy efficient.

McClure said the assessment’s energy rating was "pretty good" considering the building had been a renovation.

But there was one glaring problem.

"The lighting systems. They were just putting off so much heat," McClure said.

And in the summer, extra heat means extra air conditioning.

The 90-watt halogen bulbs were perfect for illuminating the center’s art pieces, but noticeably raised the temperature inside the center— as well as hurting its bottom line.

"When we started looking at what it costs to turn the lights on... it’s significant when you’re talking about bulbs that put off that much heat," McClure said.

The center was able to make the changes it needed to its lighting system thanks to a $12,000 grant from Grants for Green and product support from GE Lighting.

McClure said traditional LED lights have a blue tint that wouldn’t work in an art gallery where color is important.

So they tested out various GE bulbs until they found the right combination of quality and color value.

The center got to work retrofitting the lighting system and installing Ecomagination PAR38 LED lamps throughout the 10,000-square-foot facility.

The cost of a single bulb can range from $65 to $90. And with 220 lights, it quickly adds up.

"We count it as a privilege to support the creative and lasting contributions of the artists, friends and family of Quinlan," John Strainic, general manager of GE Lighting’s Consumer division, said in a release. "Our hope is that all will enjoy the enhanced color quality and reduced glare our LED lamps lend this already inspired environment."

The new lights have significantly reduced the amount of energy the center uses by 70 watts per bulb.

McClure said she hopes the grant and improvements that have been made at the center will inspire other nonprofit organizations to take on more energy-efficient practices and policies.

"Once they become aware of the environmental impact and tremendous savings they can achieve, I think many organizations will desire to adopt energy-efficient practices despite limited funds," McClure said.

While the new lights might not be as beautiful as the artwork they’re illuminating, the center will unveil its new energy-efficient gallery at the Winter Exhibition opening ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

The exhibition will feature "The Six" contemporary and abstract Georgia artists, Marc West, Kelly Morgenstern, Allen Stecker, David Wendel, Douglas Fromm and Yasharel Manzy, "I-phone Fayum Portrait Recreations" by John Bavaro, "Another Blooming Art Show" florals by Cheri Burchard and Catherine Pichon and a special juried exhibition "The Dog and Pony Show" benefiting the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia.

"We decided to have the unveiling because we’re having an art opening and the whole point of the lighting is to light the artwork," McClure said.

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