He also said that the other changes are meant to retain the site's historical look. Energy-efficient light bulbs will look similar and provide the same color of light. Lucite found on some roofs will be replaced with similar-looking fiberglass or polycarbonate materials that provide better insulation. The company will also replace the antiquated air conditioning system and will install controls to adjust each room's air conditioning and lighting based on occupancy.
High energy bills led the Wright foundation to Big Green Zero, who provided a free energy audit. Over the last year, Big Green Zero has donated more than $101,000 in resources and time to the project. First Solar, Inc., based in Tempe, Ariz., is donating the panels and labor — saving the foundation $1 million. And Roth has been asking other companies to donate time and materials or do the work at a drastically reduced cost.
The foundation still has to pay about $100,000 for zoning, permits, some equipment and some labor, but Malone said the energy savings will be worth it.
Roth expects the updates to be done within three years, but the work won't affect the 110,000 tourists that visit Taliesin West every year. The Wright foundation's architecture students are also involved, and Roth said he plans to continue working with the students and experimenting with sustainable energy at the site in the future.
As for the 1911-built Taliesin in Wisconsin, Malone said the foundation plans to do an energy audit eventually and possibly make similar changes.
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