Great ideas become community at the Smiley Building in Durango, CO.
John and Charles Shaw and Lisa Bodwalk have created something that planners and designers strive for… community. There are intangibles that can cause designers to struggle with creating community from scratch. Many lessons can be learned from the Smiley Building transformation in Durango. People are drawn to creativity and stewardship. The building is full of artists, craftsman, dancers, designers, and students. The parking lot behind the building has been converted into a park where weddings are performed and students take recess. The auditorium has become reinvigorated with dance performances, movies, and concerts. The success of the Smiley Building is providing that place where people want to come back to day after day, year after year. This place is a continual evolution – the owners, teachers, and users experiment with the arts, education, and the latest energy efficient technologies. While other institutions and projects continue on a conservative path, the Smiley Building is a proving grounds. The balance is struck between historic preservation, sustainable technology, and social vitality. This piece of architecture has been transformed by individuals and ideas into a treasured piece of the Durango community.
The 45,000-square-foot Smiley Building is a formerly abandoned, Depression-era junior high school transformed over the last decade by a trio of dedicated individuals into an energy efficient solar-powered center for arts, education and creativity located in downtown Durango, Colorado.
In 1997 brothers John and Charles Shaw and his wife Lisa Bodwalk bought the run-down building from the local school district. The historic, yellow-brick, Mission-style structure was extensively renovated and made highly energy efficient. The Smiley Building’s three enthusiastic owners have transformed the junior high school, constructed in 1936, into a hub of community activity– and the meticulously restored historic building into a world-renowned showcase for energy-efficiency and solar power.
Today the hallways and former classrooms of the Smiley Building buzz with activity from dawn until late at night, with classes ranging from dance, music, martial arts, and yoga to ceramics, photography, painting and web design. View images of some of the ongoing activities in the gallery below:
CONSERVATION FEATURES (Link to article in Solar Today magazine.)
The solar and energy conservation features listed below help make The Smiley Building one of the most energy efficient buildings in the country.
Solar Electric (Photovoltaic): 44.6 kilowatt ( or 44,600 watts) photovoltaic system consisting of 279 individual modules. This system provides more than 100% of the building’s electricity needs year around.
Solar Thermal: 1000 sq ft solar thermal system. Provides 30% of the building’s heat in winter and most of the hot water year around. Hot water from the solar is circulated in tubing within the floors.
Efficient Boilers: Four 200,000 BTU 97% efficient natural gas sealed combustion gas boilers and one 100,000 BTU high efficiency cordwood boiler heat the radiators, floors and fan coils.
Heating Controls: Individual Zones and programmable thermostats control heat to individual rooms. Heat is off at night or when the room is not used.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs): The majority of the bulbs in the building were retrofitted with energy saving CFLs. CFLs use 75% less energy than equivalent standard incandescent light bulbs while producing the same amount of light.
Occupancy sensors: save energy when common areas, restrooms, and other spaces are not occupied. Infrared sensors turn the lights out and ventilation off when not needed.
Photocells: Photocells control lighting in hallways, stairwells and outside lights. They turn off lights when there is sufficient natural light available.
Solar charged battery powered lawn tractor and snowblower: This tractor is completely powered by the sun. It is charged by 216 watts of photovoltaics and can mow all the buildings lawns on one charge. It also clears the snow from the sidewalks and paths around the building. This tractor eliminates the need for small gasoline engines, which are a major factor in urban air quality.
Cooling: The Building is cooled by a combination of evaporative cooling, two stage evaporative cooling as well as natural and mechanical ventilation . There is no air-conditioning in the building.
Hot water heat recovery: Waste heat from some showers and sinks is recovered to pre-heat domestic hot water.
Efficient Appliances: All appliances are energy star rated.
Insulation: Insulation has been added throughout the building where possible to help with heat loss and gain.