When Mardie Caldwell purchased and rehabilitated The Foothills Event Center in 2013, she says she had a vision for creating a warm, welcoming gathering place for the community in an environmentally friendly facility.
Changes, both small and large over the past few years have made that vision a reality.
A few weeks ago, a large solar array on the entire roof of the building was completed. It is now live and providing 85 percent of the electricity needs for the center, a news release states, in addition to those of Lifetime Adoption’s offices located upstairs.
“We started exploring solar when we first moved into the building,” Caldwell said. “There were so many immediate needs that we had to prioritize what made the most sense in terms of opening the facility. Safety issues were at the top of the list.”
The first green changes made were LED lighting to the parking lot lights. According to the release, vandals had removed copper wiring, rendering the lights completely useless when Caldwell acquired the property. This was the first step in making the property and building both safe and functional. Rewiring to traditional parking lot lights would have been more affordable, but Caldwell opted for an eco-friendly option.
At the same time, the building and landscaping all needed rehabilitation. After years of vacancy, both were showing signs of neglect. At one time, members of the community expressed concern for the plants that were withering in the summer months without water.
“I remember reading on Facebook about the plants, and it touched me that this community would have such concern for the trees and plants that were once flourishing,” she said. “Once we owned the property, it was a priority to get water to everything. And I’m happy to report that we were able to save many of the existing plants!”
Caldwell says many have been added, including irises and others donated from local gardeners.
In 2016, the interior lights were changed from fluorescent to LED with the ability to dim as needed for events.
“Some people want bright lights for meetings and business functions,” says Megan Swinney, venue manager for the facility. “Others, such as weddings, receptions, and concerts may want very dim lights. With the flexibility of our dimmable LED system, along with our colored lighting and spotlight options, we are able to meet most any request.”
With the installation of the solar panels, Caldwell said major upgrades for energy efficiency may be complete.
“This was a large, multi-year plan that I believe is now at completion,” she said. “Some systems needed replacement to function, others were a choice, like adding the solar array. All in all, I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to be able to host so many beautiful and happy functions, and do it in an environmentally conscious way.”
Gone Green: The Foothills Event Center invests in renewable energy, by The Foothills Event Center, The Union, August 17, 2017.