Mark Taylor and Colin Laird Spearhead the Third Street Center LED Lighting Upgrade and Path to Zero
Mark Taylor and Colin Laird (left to right) array themselves on the Third Street Center ro

The Third Street Center Flips the Switch on Energy Efficiency

At Carbondale’s Third Street Center, sustainability meets the eye: solar PV on the roof, electric vehicle charging stations line the parking lot, low-flow water fixtures in the bathrooms, and skylights galore. But what’s happening behind the scenes is equally impressive: the Third Street Center’s staff are continually seeking new ways to push beyond traditional energy retrofitting and maximize the facility’s potential, with support from CORE.

The former schoolhouse which was rehabbed into a community and nonprofit hub in 2008 now boasts all LED lights inside and outside the building. This upgrade is set to save $6,000, and slash energy consumption by 58,244 kilowatt hours (equivalent to six and a half home’s electricity) a year.

In the pursuit of efficiency, no light was left unturned. Working with CORE and One Source Lighting, the Center targeted exterior lights, installed dimmer switches in studios and offices, and applied cutting-edge motion sensor technology. Notably, the old fluorescent lights lining hallways are out. “Technology in LED lighting has really advanced rapidly and now we are seeing replacements of fluorescent lighting be cost-effective in a way that wouldn’t have been possible three or four years ago,” said Brad Davis, CORE’s Energy Program Manager, who brings his experience as a BPI Building Analyst to bear on projects in the commercial sector, including this one.

The project was stuck in the pipeline, held up by funding. “What pushed it over the edge was actually CORE’s support,” said Colin Laird, Third Street Center’s Executive Director. “The costs are still pretty steep, but Brad’s number-crunching made it an easier amount to swallow.”

Brad was able to identify a $10,000 rebate from CORE, find another $11,269 from Xcel Energy, and provide technical and financial advice — at no cost to the Center. The success of a project often lies in this behind-the-scenes work. Brad notes that “the bottom line is the single most important factor for most business owners. That’s why we help pencil out the projected savings for energy projects ensure they get access to all available rebates.”

Facilities manager, Mark Taylor agrees. This information allowed them to sell the project to the board, keep rents low, and focus on a laundry list of other tasks. Even if a project fits into the Center’s larger environmental sustainability goals, it has to be financially sustainable. This LED upgrade project checks both boxes. In fact, it’s payback period is under five years.

For Colin, the Center is a living laboratory, one that can be a how-to guide to retrofit the millions of old, inefficient buildings that are out in the world using more energy than they should. “Let’s test a few ideas” is his motto, along with sharing their successes — and their failures — with the community.

We’re never done. There’s always new technology and new approaches that use fewer resources,” said Colin. Undaunted by this challenge, the team says there’s more to come. Next up: addressing the facility’s natural gas consumption. With support from a CORE Community Grant, they are evaluating how a ground source heat system could take them to the next level.

Even if you’ve done efficiency work in the past few years, we still recommend you reach out to explore new opportunities. Visit our office at the Third Street Center, and get a tour of the new LED lights. To learn more, and for free technical and financial advising on your business, please reach out to Brad Davis at 970.925.9775 (ext 506) or