The Logan County Courthouse is a beautiful historic landmark in Sterling, Colorado.   It was dedicated in 1910 and has been undergoing a multi-year renovation.  As part of the renovation, it was discovered that decorating the grounds cost $8200 per holiday season.   To alleviate this, permanent exterior lighting was added to enhance the beauty of the courthouse while at the same time saving the taxpayers a significant amount of money each year.

The holiday lighting required 15,800 watts of power – equivalent to about 13 toaster ovens. Additionally, the two Blue Spruce trees on the north side of the courthouse grew so tall that they could only be decorated halfway up with traditional lights – to the limits of a bucket truck.

In 2012, as part of the final phase of the restoration,   the decision was made to remove all of the exterior electrical conduit from the building and patch the holes that had been drilled into the bricks and mortar over the years. The conduit and holes had been used to support the lights that were added to the courthouse during the Christmas season each year.

With the cost information in hand, the Board of County Commissioners asked the restoration contractor, Wattle and Daub Contractors, to recommend a lighting contractor that could design a more efficient lighting system for the courthouse.  Collins Control and Electric, Inc., of Fort Collins, CO designed a system that reduced the wattage by 95% to 900 watts, a system that remains in place year round.  This eliminated the annual installation and removal costs, does not need exterior conduit and does not have fixtures that require mounting holes in the brick and mortar walls. The energy reduction equates to 14,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

Mike Haddorff of Collins Control & Electric proposed the LED lighting to reduce the electricity costs and provide a beautiful display of the building’s architecture at night. Three-color LED light fixtures were installed in the eaves to graze downward along each of 12 corners. Additionally, the building title, portico, and dome are lit by individual fixtures.  LED lights have a life of 60,000 hours.  This greatly reduces labor costs for replacements.   

Collins Control & Electric has a particular expertise in upgrading electrical service in historic buildings so that the wiring is completely hidden. They designed and implemented a state-of-the-art lighting project with LED fixtures and professional theater light networking technology.  They also designed and built special fixtures and shields to direct the light downward where it is wanted, without beaming directly into viewers’ eyes.  The fixtures are all but hidden.  All the wires were routed cleverly through the attic so that they were invisible.     

Collins Control & Electric also provided a computerized system and training to run the lights.     The computer program can be set up to have many decorative scenes, like red and green at Christmas, pink and red for Valentine’s day,  green for St. Patrick’s Day.  The decorative colors are only limited by one’s imagination.   A wireless system can be used to fine tune the lights from the parking lot.

The State Historical Fund, History Colorado, a major contributor to the restoration costs, readily approved the project due to improvements to the appearance of the building and attention to detail.

Commissioner Donaldson said: “The Commissioners made the decision for the right reasons – we were using 15,800 watts for outdoor lighting and we reduced electric consumption by 95% with the new system.  It is also ‘green’ – an environmental benefit – which is something that we must consider for the benefit of future generations.”  

Situation After the Upgrades

  • Improved building Aesthetics – closer to its original appearance.
  • New, dramatic lighting scenes for every day and holiday celebrations.
  • Saving $8200 per year on holiday light installation and electricity.
  • No need for a bucket truck to cross the lawn in the winter and spring.
  • LED fixtures practically eliminate light replacements with a  life of 60,000 hours

Working with the contractors

“Mike Haddorff and his employees were very courteous, conscientious of the building – they were great to work with.  The new lighting came up as a great addition of features of the building.  They were really innovative in using the fixtures and the software together.  When you come across a contractor that has the great ideas and knows how to implement them it just enhances the whole project. “said Jennifer Crow, Manager, Administrative Support for Board of County Commissioners.

“I couldn’t speak more highly of them.  They were very receptive to input.  …It was done with a lot of ownership. “– Dave Donaldson, Logan County Commissioner.