Carbondale businesses win honors |

Carbondale businesses win honors

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Contributed photoThe Sunsense team, in front of their Carbondale headquarters, are (counterclockwise from right): Scott Ely, Jeff Lauckhart, Jen Hancewicz, Andy Lietz, Alex Damaso, Isaac Ellis, Ana Hindelang, Jes Sanderford and Steve Haines, plus canine reps Komet and Kozmo.

CARBONDALE ” The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce awarded its Business of the Year awards last week to J.R. Baker Architects and Sunsense, Inc.

The awards recognize businesses that have a history of outstanding business practices in Carbondale. They honor entrepreneurship, sustainability, productivity and effort in locally owned, private businesses.

According to Randi Lowenthal, executive director of the chamber, Baker Architects designed several unique buildings in Carbondale that are making significant contributions to the physical health, spiritual well-being, and growth of the arts and economic vitality of the town.

And, she said Scott Ely and his team at Sunsense “embody the green movement which is getting Carbondale so much recent attention” and have “really advanced Carbondale’s image as a leader in the new energy economy.”

John Baker, of Baker Architects, said he enjoys working with a wide variety of people in the community on building designs.

“I’m sort of turning their vision into reality,” he said. “When I got the award, it was kind of like getting a high-five from the whole community.”

Baker feels green-certified buildings serve both the community and the planet. He moved to Carbondale from Alaska in 1989 and established his own firm about a year later. Baker Architects’ recent projects include the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center, Thunder River Theatre, the Gathering Center addition at the Church in Carbondale, Waterplace employee housing and Pomegranate senior housing in Aspen, and Crystal Meadows senior housing in Carbondale.

He is one of two architects in western Colorado to design a prospective Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building. That was the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center that opened last March.

Ely, of Sunsense, said it was the entire Sunsense staff that won the award.

“I’m real pleased for our group, for the people that work for us,” he said. “I certainly didn’t do it myself. I just happen to be the figurehead.”

Sunsense specializes in solar electric system design and installation. Ely founded the company in 1990 in Boulder and was installing off-grid solar electric systems. He moved the business to Carbondale in 1992.

Besides residential locations, Sunsense has installed photovoltaic panels at Carbondale Town Hall, Sopris Park and the Carbondale Emergency Operations Center. The company has also installed panels at Dwyer Greens and Flowers in New Castle, the Thunder River Lodge in Carbondale and Alpine Bank in Rifle, among other projects.

Ely said developing green energy sources could create hundreds of thousands of jobs nationally, reduce dependence on foreign oil and secure a healthier planet.

“I really feel like the green technology sector is going to be one of the saviors of our economy,” Ely said.

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