Sustainable Sounds

What does it mean for an art form to be energy sustainable? To find out, we sat down with Annemarie Petrov, CEO for the Winspear Centre and the Edmonton Orchestra. We had our conversation on the symphony stage, with the cavernous space twinkling behind her, discussing the past, present and future of the vaunted Edmonton establishment. We spoke on the philosophy of music as a sustainable art form, and what it means to bring a facility with such legacy into the future.


This dialogue brought us to what the Centre is doing today, and what they’ll be doing tomorrow; an endeavor known as the completion project. The Winspear Centre first made its mark in downtown Edmonton in 1997. Due to the nature and needs of the space, the building was designed to incorporate state-of-the-art acoustics and sound isolation. This design and construction profile doubles as environmentally-friendly in that it helps retain heat and reduce overall energy consumption.

Heavily insulated walls and stairwells, rubber sealed doors and adjustable curtains and canopies in the main hall not only help to dampen sound, but also prevent heat loss throughout the building. In addition to operations staff who actively manage the building’s energy use, lighting fixtures in the Centre are also being replaced with higher efficient LED fixtures.


With an energy-use intensity of 0.82 GJ per sq-m which is 67% lower than national median for its building type, Winspear was recognized for its excellent energy efficiency and won a City of Edmonton Building Energy Benchmarking Excellence Award (not-for-profit category) in March 2018.

And the facility we know today was only ever half the puzzle. Since 2012, Annemarie and her team have been working on “the completion project,” expanding the facility into what is currently the rear parking lot, adding a concert hall, studios, community spaces, and even a central district energy plant. This plant will be on site and will generate energy in one location  and distributed to surrounding buildings.


What is now a hub of arts and culture in the downtown community might also become  a hub of sustainable community energy. To find out what this means to the city, the neighbourhood and to the arts community, check out this episode of Renewable.