Energizing Avondale, One LED Bulb at a Time

Posted January 30, 2018 by Sophia Cifuentes

Your Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, the greenest zoo in the country, is working towards making its neighborhood of Avondale one of Cincinnati’s most energy efficient neighborhoods, thanks to a grant from the Duke Class Benefit Fund. The grant, worth $425,000, is allowing the upgrade of lightbulbs to the much more energy efficient, cooler, and safe LED’s in homes, businesses, churches, and non-profits throughout the community as well as finishing up LED upgrades on the Zoo’s campus. The project is called “Light Up Avondale”, and has just wrapped up year one of its two-year timeline. Within this first year, much progress was made.

On campus, the Zoo has converted hundreds of lights to LED because of this project, bringing us closer to our 100% LED goal. In the community, we have conducted lighting audits for 7 non-profits and churches with our partners, Donovan Energy. The lighting audits allow us to learn what the energy footprint of the building currently is, and how upgrading to LEDs can reduce energy consumption and increase financial savings. Every light, every fixture, every room is documented meticulously so we don’t miss anything. As these lighting audits are complete, a comprehensive report and proposal is generated to begin next steps of ordering material and completing the installation. Each of these 7 non-profits and churches should see the upgrades take place within these first two months of the new year, and more non-profits, churches, and businesses will be signed up to participate.

Residents also have been made aware of the program, which is more than just dropping off a box of lightbulbs at their doorstep. Instead, our Install Team (which is in the process of being developed) will change the lightbulbs out as well as keep an eye out for other ways to save energy, thus saving money and creating a healthier environment. In our second year, we are excited to begin to install the LED bulbs and see the savings take shape.

The project isn’t possible without the collaboration and support of our community partners – the Avondale Community Council, Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation, Easter Seals, Gabriel’s Place, and Donovan Energy.

Benefits & Outcomes of Light Up Avondale

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.

Why Avondale?

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.