Monday, July 7, 2008

What is LightsON! West Virginia?

About LightsON! and the Bellann Building...

Imagine looking at a satellite image of West Virginia taken at night. You can make out lights in Charleston, Morgantown, Wheeling, the eastern pan handle, Beckley, but for the most part, its pretty dark.Now zoom in a little and imagine a small light illuminating Oak Hill, WV, a small, rural town in the southern part of the state, north of Beckley. The light uses very little energy, so little in fact that its not turned on during the day. Now see more little, energy efficient light bulbs popping up throughout existing, revitalized downtowns across the dark backdrop of rolling, rural West Virginia.

The little lights are once forgotten and now rehabilitated buildings located along downtown Main St., Anysmalltown, WV. Restaurants are open later. The gallery is having a show. The professional day-workers are out on the town with their friends and family. There's a buzz of activity providing just enough energy to efficiently power the buildings, repair the sidewalks, and improve open space and walk-ability.

LightsON! West Virginia is a company that renovates old, dilapidated downtown buildings in rural West Virginia. The Bellann building is our first project and is turning into a big success. The Bellann building was constructed in 1930 and houses nearly 10,000 sf of usable interior space. The focus of the renovation thus far has been on the 2nd floor, once home to a doctor's office, a dentists' office, apartments and most recently (16 years ago) the National Park Service.

Today, the 2nd floor of Bellann building houses new tenants with new ideas on how to live and work in a rural downtown. Tele-commuters and branch offices of companies and organizations like Earthmark, Drive Current, WELD, Constellation Software Engineering Corp., and National Parks Conservation Association are inhabiting the 2nd floor and energizing the town of Oak Hill. With open arms from the community and local government, LightsON! West Virginia and the tenants of the Bellann building are contributing just enough energy to make Oak Hill shine a little brighter. And, it would not be possible without a creative funding strategy supported by Natural Capital Investment Fund, 4CEDA and BB&T.

Quality of Place...

Quality of Place! That's ALL we need! This means different things to different people so I speak for myself when I say "Thank God for West Virginia and the New River Gorge!" We have:
  • Affordable living
  • Laid back atmosphere
  • No congestion
  • Great weather
  • Great views
  • Broadband connectivity
  • The Gorge
This blog serves to...

1) update our readers on the progress of the Bellann Building (Oak Hill, WV). The Bellann is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council and on track to be the first LEED-EB (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Rating System) certified commercial building under private ownership in West Virginia;
  • Architects, planners, builders, members of the community: do you have any thoughts on LEED certification?
  • What is the value of being LEED certifiied?
  • Is achieving LEED certification affordable?
  • Does LEED really save on long-term expenses?
  • How does the LEED rating system compare with others?
2) share LightsON! West Virginia's efforts to revitalize WV's economically depressed, rural downtowns in an environmentally conscious manner, and seek feedback;
  • How do we sustain the Bellann model?
  • How does this work on a larger scale?
  • How can we bring significant investment to our revitalization efforts?
3) share the ideas and efforts of individuals and organizations across the state and rural Appalachia who are stirring the stew of creativity;
4) and, provide a venue in which LightsON! can LEARN FROM OUR READERS about how we can improve our approach to community revitalization.

We hope you post some comments and enjoy the progress!

Brandon Holmes
LightsOn! West Viriginia