Everyone knows it’s expensive to go to the movies. And it’s not just the ticket prices. At some theaters, you have to take out a second mortgage if you want popcorn and soda. I was once again faced with that realization when I went to see a movie this weekend.

Many theaters and cineplexes really have no choice but to keep raising their prices. It’s hard to compete with cheaper digital downloads of movies. That’s why I was fascinated to read about a theater in Chattanooga, Tenn., that is hoping to stay profitable by going green.

The Carmike Majestic Cinemas is the first movie theater in the U.S. to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification from the USGBC. The Majestic opened in 2009, and was built with roof-mounted solar panels, energy efficient light and water systems, and recycled construction products.

Those involved with the construction of the Majestic had two goals, to be more environmentally friendly and to lower operating costs. One example of how this is being accomplished is through the use of daylighting in the theater lobby. The natural light eliminates the need for artificial light, which can sometimes overheat a space. To cool patrons from the lights, the AC needs to be on. But at the Majestic, the daylighting has reduced the use of the cooling system.

After reading about the Majestic 12, I was interested to find out how many other movie theaters across the country are LEED certified. I was only able to find one more, an AMC theater in Chicago set to open at the end of this month. If you know of any others, let me know.

Also, let me know if you think this is going to catch on with more movie theaters. I think it is inevitable. While it’s cheaper and easier than ever to watch movies in your own home, the big screens aren’t going to go away. And with that in mind, theaters are going to have to invest in their future. That means investing in green technology, not just to keep patrons comfortable, but to keep operating costs in check.

I’ve heard of a lot of movie theaters that go out of their way to do new things to attract  customers, such as serving beer and wine, and even gourmet food. But if the theater chains want the show to go on, they might want to turn their attention to high efficiency HVAC and sustainable energy systems.