In 2017, thanks to the support from the Duke Class Benefit Fund, the Zoo was given $425,000 to transition to all-LED, including our spectacular annual PNC Festival of lights. Another part of the Light Up Avondale Project is to undertake a major extension of energy efficiency efforts into the Avondale community surrounding the Zoo. These efforts include facilitating the installment of LED lighting in homes, community organizations, churches, and 50 “trouble spots” around Avondale where fresh, efficient lighting could be used to increase safety and security.

In addition to LED-lighting, the goal of the project is to connect our community with conservation, as well as to the many resources available from other organizations within Avondale and Uptown Cincinnati.


How to Participate

  • Are you a resident of Avondale interested in saving money on your energy bills?
  • Are you able to allow our Install Team to do the installation of bulbs in your home?
  • Are you an electrician that wants to give back to the community?
  • Contact Fia Turczynewycz, Sustainable Communities Advocate, for more information: [email protected] or call (513) 487-3355.

Progress To Date

Light Up Avondale has been in action since January 2017. Since then, much progress has been made with collaboration, outreach, awareness, and planning. The Zoo has made tremendous strides to continue to upgrade lights on its campus to LEDs, including our parking lots. Within the community, we have partnered with Donovan Energy to conduct lighting audits and begin the scope of work for the following non-profits and churches:

  • Gabriel’s Place
  • Urban League
  • Wesley Education Center
  • Greater New Hope Baptist Church
  • Greater New Light Baptist Church
  • Cincinnati Christian College
  • Zion Church

LED installation and upgrades for these establishments will take place in the first two months of 2018, and more churches and non-profits will be signed up to participate. Residents have also been made aware of the project through our Summer Street Team and current Zoo Green Team volunteers that are reaching out and sharing details about the project. To date, 50 residents have signed up to participate, and their LED installation will take place this spring. The Install Team for the residential side of the project is currently being developed. Our colleagues at District 4 along with Aovndale’s Avenue District Block Club are identifying troubled or dark hot spots around the community for increased or enhanced street lighting.


Avondale is the home to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. A strong community means a strong Zoo, and vice versa. The fourth pillar of our mission, “Serving Community”, was added in 2005 – recognizing our desire and responsibility to build a strong relationship with our Avondale, and collaborate with neighborhood organizations, schools, and residents to build a safe, strong, healthy community.  Avondale is predominately low-income, high-unemployment, high-crime, and underserved. With the support of Duke, we can share our experience with energy efficiency and environmental sustainability to benefit neighboring home and business owners.

This project has the potential to impact the estimated 8,048 individuals who call Avondale home, as well as those who visit Avondale churches and businesses that were selected for the project. Through the installation of LED bulbs, which are more efficient and long-lasting than CFL or incandescent bulbs, homeowners, business owners, and churches will have lower energy bills every month, won’t have to buy replacement bulbs as often, safer lighting, and increased comfort levels indoors. These savings will put money back into homeowners’ and renters’ pockets and cut expenses for community organizations so they can invest more in their core missions.

The entire Avondale community, as well as anyone visiting Avondale, benefits by the large outdoor lighting in “trouble spots”—areas that have seen a high number of crime-related activity. This makes Avondale more accessible and residents can feel safer walking at night.  Additionally, this partnership continues to strengthen our relationship with Avondale, community partners, and the city of Cincinnati.

A big focus of the project is to get local students and youth involved through work experience.

Light Up Avondale Street Team

The Street Team is a group of local high schoolers who go door-to-door with flyers, attend community events and meetings, and make calls to get residents signed up for bulb retrofits. The students are not only getting involved in their own community, they learn valuable communication, leadership, and responsibility skills. They are our “boots on the ground” team that have bene spreading the word about the Light Up Avondale Project. For many of these young teens, this is their first job.

Light Up Avondale Install Team

Part of this project is to support workforce development. The Install Team is designed to support budding electrical and lighting professionals, and give opportunity to those who need to build experience and skills. The Install Team is also a leadership and community opportunity for current Cincinnati State students with the advanced energy or applied technology specialist programs, as well as workforce opportunities for adults through the Easterseals program.

The Light Up Avondale Project is not only possible through the Duke CBF, but through the many partners that are helping to spread education and awareness, sharing their programs and resources, providing individuals for the street and install teams, providing space for trainings and meetings, conducting energy audits, and assisting with identification and installation process.

  • Easterseals
  • Cincinnati State
  • AmeriCorps
  • Gabriel’s Place
  • Donovan Energy
  • Avondale Community Council
  • Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation (ACDC)
  • Children’s Hospital
  • Cincinnati Police Department (District 4)