Case Study: Stronghold Camp & Retreat

Dr. Danny Pierce had a simple four-word expression of his multi-faceted vision for Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center in Oregon, Illinois: Active, Green and Growing.  This Presbyterian ministry would be active in the community, active and growing in their faith, and care for the environment more than ever before.  To make the green part of the vision a reality, Pierce chose to work with Thayer Energy Solutions to create a more energy efficient facility.

The Stronghold Center was once the home of a Chicago newspaper publisher and his family, and was built to resemble a castle from Tudor-era Britain, complete with chapel, great hall, and even a secret passage. The castle was purchased by the Presbyterian church in 1962 to serve as a summer camp, which Pierce says is “still the heartbeat of Stronghold.” Summer camp programs for school age children, family camp and grandparent camp are conducted throughout the summer. Over the decades, the grounds have expanded to 360 acres, and Stronghold now functions as a year-round venue for conferences, retreats, and camping, and hosts an annual Olde English Faire. More than 10,000 people visit the camp annually.

Two years ago, Presbyterian churches began collecting and donating LED bulbs as part of a Light Up Stronghold campaign. The next step would be to replace the lighting technology throughout the camp, including the lights in seven residential buildings. Pierce and his team reached out to Elevate Energy in Chicago, a green consulting group that assists non-profit organizations. After conducting a property assessment, the experts at Elevate recommended Thayer Energy Solutions as the primary contractor for the retrofit.

In addition to providing and installing new lighting, the Thayer team assisted with the process of securing rebates and other funding from ComEd. “Patti Thayer was simply fantastic when it came to putting together a clear proposal and all the paperwork,” Pierce said. Rebate and credit funding from ComEd and other sources secured during this process covered $30,000 of the retrofit cost.

With funding secured and a plan in place, the installation process began in August and September of this year. A dedicated project manager oversaw the retrofit, and a technician worked onsite at Stronghold for three weeks.

Now that Stronghold’s lighting has gone 100% green, Pierce expects the investment to pay for itself in only 18 months. “I just can’t give Patti and her team enough credit for how well they handled this and the great results they produced. They’ve helped us become better stewards, the cost savings is just icing on the cake.”