Tucson small businesses cut costs on energy through SCALE UP program

Updated: Jun. 26, 2018 at 5:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Believe it or not, there's a place hotter than the Sonoran Desert in June, you can find it at the Sonoran Glass School.

Virgil Jones has worked at the school for the last four years and has a passion for glass blowing.

"It gets your mind off things and you really focus on what you're doing in the moment," Jones explained.

He often spends his days in the hot shop, with one piece of equipment that heats up to 2,000 degrees, and the cost to run it is just as much. The executive director of Sonoran Glass, Lynn Davis, told Tucson News Now the school's gas bill alone is $2,000.

That's a hefty price tag for a local non-profit.

It's why they sought help from SCALE UP to cut the costs on their energy bills. SCALE UP stands for Sustainable Committees Accessing Lending and Expertise Upon Performance.

After one audit, they learned one solution just required a quick glance up.

"The low hanging fruit for us is going to be changing out light bulbs," said Davis.

By installing LEDs, Davis expects to save up to 10 percent after eighteen months.

Their hot shop is due for a remodel, too. The Sonoran Glass School plans to use tips from the program to be energy efficient about it.

Paul Anders-Stout, who runs the hot shop said, "Just like the insulation in your house, you get cracks in your insulation and your walls. Heat leaks out. It just takes all that more energy to keep it hot."

However, Sonoran Glass School is not entirely new to being environmentally conscious. If you take a stroll into their sculpture garden, much of the artwork is recycled.

"We're always looking at new, different ways and different projects to recycle this and that," Jones said.

Jones and the team don't plan on stopping that anytime soon.

If you run a business here in town and are interested in saving on your utility bills through SCALE UP, send an email to for more information.

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