Starlight Express Musical Theater
Kieback&Peter optimizes the regulation of the ventilation system in the musical theater © Jens Hauer

This success is unique: The Bochum presentation of the musical “Starlight Express,” created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, is one of the most successful worldwide seen by over 16 million spectators from 1988 to 2017. The theater is the first of its kind to be built by an operator in Germany exclusively for a stage play.

In 2013 Kieback&Peter optimized the regulation of the ventilation system in the musical theater: The DDC4000 automation system with Climotion now provides smart ventilation with lower energy consumption and a significantly better climate.

More Comfort for both Audience and Actors

Frank Bünger from Building Management at Stadtwerke Bochum utility company and Peter Lucassen, Technical Director of Starlight Express GmbH, decided to reduce the energy costs of the musical theater. They had identified the ventilation system as the object of their energy-saving project - the high consumption costs of which they attributed mainly to the outdated control system.

They commissioned the experts from Kieback&Peter to optimize the ventilation control. The control professionals had already achieved outstanding savings results for many other projects to optimize existing plants - above all through the use of automation systems with integrated Climotion algorithms.

In addition to energy savings, it was equally important for the operators to increase the comfort factor in the room both for visitors to the musical and actors. Until now, the ventilation system operated with a constant air flow. As a result, some spectators and actors suffered from drafty conditions. In addition, layers of air at different temperatures - i.e. islands of cold and warmth - were created in the theater hall and in the foyer.

In addition, the Kieback&Peter team was given the task of connecting the new solution to the central building management system of Stadtwerke Bochum utility company. The operator wanted to be able to operate and monitor the ventilation system in a completely decentralized way.

Better atmosphere in the entire theatre © Jens Hauer

The DDC4000 Automation System with Climotion Optimizes the Ventilation System

At the Starlight Express Theater Bochum, the experts from Kieback&Peter converted the conventional continuous ventilation to demand-based control with Climotion.


The information for smart ventilation operation is provided to the control system by more than 50 sensors installed around the musical theater. As a leading system integrator, Kieback&Peter integrated the existing sensors from various manufacturers into the new ventilation concept without any problems. For example, CO2 sensors now permanently measure air quality. The control system commands the system to supply fresh air before the carbon dioxide content becomes too high.

Before Kieback&Peter’s intervention there were only two operating states for the ventilation fans: either switched off or full power. Now the automation stations from Kieback&Peter control the speed of the ventilation fans using frequency inverters. In this way, they can variably regulate the volume flow and the proportion of fresh air and adapt exactly to the respective requirements. Thanks to the smart control system, customers now save a great deal of electricity and costs during operation. This is because a simple rule of thumb applies to ventilation based on the laws of physical proportionality: If you halve the volume flow, the power consumed by the ventilators is reduced to an eighth of what it was.

Kieback&Peter’s task was to get the most out of the ventilation in the project in terms of comfort and efficiency. For this reason, the experts also applied the patented Climotion control algorithm. This is integrated into the DDC4000 controllers from Kieback&Peter by default. It controls the supply air from extract air separately and ensures a slow, undirected air flow. This avoids unpleasant drafts and temperature stratification because the fresh air always mixes evenly with the air in the room. Climotion also avoids a so-called ventilation short circuit in which the supply air flows directly from the inlet back to the outlet. This makes Climotion the premium version of demand-driven ventilation control.

The DDC4200 automation station controls the three ventilation systems in the hall, foyer and stage tower. A DDC4002 controller is responsible for the rest of the building services. The experts from Kieback&Peter linked the automation system with Stadtwerke Bochum's building management system via BACnet IP. This enables different employees to monitor and control the system on a decentralized basis.

Through the entire project, Kieback&Peter reduced the energy/electricity consumption of the ventilation system by more than 50 percent. At the same time, the Climotion experts ensured a noticeably better atmosphere in the theatre - to the delight of visitors and actors.

Comfortable control of the ventilation system © Jens Hauer

Starlight Express, Bochum - A Summary of the Technology:

  • Energy saving and comfort: Demand-based ventilation control of the ventilation system by the DDC4000 automation system with Climotion
  • System integration: Sensors from different manufacturers determine the required room air parameters
Better ambient air for the actors © Jens Hauer

Starlight Express, Bochum - A Summary of the Technology:

  • Connection to Stadtwerke Bochum’s building management system via BACnet
  • Controller DDC4200 controls three ventilation systems in the musical theater
  • Controller DDC4002 takes over the rest of the building services