From an abandoned building in Durango, CO to an award-winning community, Charles Shaw turned his vision of an eco-friendly sustainable business into a reality. The 45,000 sq. ft. property, now eerily quiet after years of screaming children running through its halls, sat vacant until Charles and his wife Lisa decided to purchase the Emory E. Smiley building in 1996 from the local school district.
Charles, with the new building in hand, remembers, “When we first bought the building we had vision of…we wanted to make it a place for artists and classes.” Charles and his little family did just that. Now, touting fourteen years of ownership/landlording without a vacancy, the halls are again filled with the voices of happy students, artists, teachers and the like. From art studios that benefit from almost 100% natural light to yoga classes that can warm up student tushies during floating-lotus pose because of the thermally-heated floors, the building is teeming with life.
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The real triumph of this community is that Charles, out of necessity, has created perhaps one of the eco-friendliest and energy-efficient buildings in the entire country. Through adept use of motion sensing ventilation, solar panels, and conscious use of electricity, the building’s utility bills went from a whopping $4,500 a month to an anemic $300!!
With vision, purpose and practice Charles has turned an old drafty school building into an eco-loving business commune that’s at the forefront of the “this is how you do things” model.