School Turned Domestic as Family Buys Abandoned School to Turn into Home

In Durango, CO, Charles and his wife Lisa decided to take the chance of a lifetime when they saw that an old high school was up for sale in 1996. They bought the school with the idea to turn it into their home, with the chance to share their home with artists and teachers who wished to enhance the community around them.

After buying the school and beginning the renovation, the family quickly realized that they would need some serious help in regards to utilities and being energy efficient as well as eco friendly. But with 45,000 square feet of space, this would be a tremendous challenge. Their first utility bill was $5,000. Can you imagine?!

Charles went to work. By installing solar panels, motion sensors attached to ventilation, and just being aware and controlling energy use. By the time that he was finished, their utility bill went down to $300. A pretty amazing feet for all of the space.

Charles bought the Emory E. Smiley building with the hopes of turning it into not only an eco-friendly business, but a cultural epicenter for the creative arts. Over the past 14 years, he has done just that. Even with all of the different areas, there has yet to be a vacancy in regards to renting. Yoga classes, art classes, and multiple other community enhancing events have been held and continue to be held in this building, as well as housing Charles and his family. What an awesome idea!

There are yoga studios with thermal floors. Art studios absolutely filled with nothing but natural light. The entire electricity is given through the solar panels and routed throughout the building. Don’t forget that there are livable areas all throughout the building for families. It is being called the most energy efficient and eco-friendly building in the entire country, and has become a jewel for the community of Durango, CO.

What an awesome way to reuse a building that would have otherwise just sat, dilapidated, until it was either torn down or fell to the ground of its own accord.

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