Downtown Tucson Bar Uses Tucson Electric Power Rebates to Drive Green Practices

Going green wasn’t top of mind for co-owner Nick Wayne when he first started making plans to expand HighWire bar in Downtown Tucson.

But as he started finalizing the details, Wayne learned more about sustainable options. TEP’s rebates and programs were a big factor in helping him accomplish his goals with new lighting, smart thermostats, and other measures.

“It wasn’t something I cared a lot about. Now I do,” Wayne said. He learned about TEP rebates with a click of a button.

Like many businesses during the pandemic, Wayne was seeking financial relief wherever he could. While applying for a grant through the YWCA, he spotted a button asking if he’d be interested in the Southern Arizona Green Business Leaders program, which was new at the time.

TEP helped launch the Southern Arizona Green Business Alliance at Local First Arizona to assist businesses in improving energy efficiency and exploring renewable energy options.

“The program presented why this stuff is so important by giving real life examples and stories,” Wayne said. He went through the program while simultaneously pursuing an opportunity to expand his business.

At first, HighWire operated solely in a venue on the northside of a passageway behind Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market. When another bar on the southside of the passageway closed during the pandemic, Wayne and his partner decided to take over the space to expand.

Up until 2015, the century-old building was used to manufacture gym equipment. There were wood panels over some of the windows when Wayne took over.

With his newfound knowledge, Wayne went to his architect and made the switch to as many energy-efficient and environmentally friendly measures as possible when he gutted and redesigned the venue, unveiled in February 2022.

Those included LED bulbs on tracks over the bar and seating area as well as low-energy disc lighting in the bathroom. He maximized efficiency with TEP-recommended smart thermostats.

Beyond energy-saving measures, the bar features low-flow toilets and faucets and compostable drinking straws for the cocktails.

Wayne has engaged Gina Murphy-Darling, host of Mrs. Green’s World, to conduct environmentally focused staff trainings twice a year. A session earlier this year included a presentation on TEP’s energy efficiency rebates.

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