When Charles Shaw purchased the old junior high edifice on 3rd Avenue in 1997 with his wife and brother, some folks were skeptical. What would this trio do with the yellow-brick, 45,000-square-foot Smiley Building built in 1936? Why, transform it into an energy-efficient, solar-powered community center for arts, education and creativity, of course.
The Smiley Building has since grown into a hub for locals, featuring a cozy cafe, home for a number of entrepreneurs and small businesses and classes ranging from yoga to martial arts, ceramics to photography, dance, music, web design and more. Perhaps Charles’ greatest pride though are the incredible efforts they’ve gone to make the building sustainable.
Photovoltaic panels supplying all the building’s electrical needs and solar-heating panels supplying hot water and winter heating needs to the building have reduced energy costs from $5,000 per month to $400 per month. These nifty additions produce enough energy to feed clean power back into the local electrical grid.
“For me, [being a Localist] means working hard to make Durango more beautiful and an exceptional place for people to live and work,” says Charles.