Light Works of Steamboat honored as Sustainable Business of the Year |

Light Works of Steamboat honored as Sustainable Business of the Year

Light Works of Steamboat is a family-run business that last week was presented with the Sustainable Steamboat Business Award. Pictured are, from right, Richard Schwanke, Nancy Schwanke, Becca Stoll and Hanni Schwanke.

— Nancy Schwanke has been helping brighten Routt County sustainably since at least 2006 when she opened Light Works of Steamboat.

She came from modest beginnings, particularly for someone who has made a career in the lighting business.

When Schwanke and her husband, Richard, first moved to the Elk River Valley 40 years ago, they relied on a kerosene lamp to light their cabin that had no electricity or running water.

"It maybe gave me a greater respect for what I do now," Nancy Schwanke said.

Today, the Schwankes strive to educate their customers and supply them with technology that can help them save money and lessen their impacts on the environment.

"Whenever possible, we sell energy-efficient lighting," Schwanke said.

Recommended Stories For You

Her company was recognized Oct. 28 during the Navigator Awards for its efforts and was the recipient of the Sustainable Business of the Year award. The other nominees for the award were Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus, Central Park Management, Catamount Ranch & Club and Sweetwood Cattle Co.

"I am humbled by this award," Schwanke said. "It reflects my core belief that we can all make a difference on this earth if we just make the attempt. Changing a few basic light bulbs to compact fluorescent or LED is a simple way to start, and though the up-front cost may be more, you will save money in the long run and the reduction of energy used is enormous."

Light Works was nominated by Lyn Halliday, who runs the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association's Sustainable Business Program through her company, Environmental Solutions Unlimited. Light Works is a gold member of the Sustainable Business Program and a participant in the Cents for Steamboat program, which helps businesses raise money for sustainable causes.

With money raised through the Cents for Steamboat program, Schwanke helped spearhead an event that allowed local businesses to recycle more than 3,500 fluorescent light bulbs for free. She also established a recycling center for her neighbor businesses located in the Loggers Lane business center on the west side of Steamboat.

"They have a pretty large impact for a pretty small company," Halliday said.

Schwanke runs the business with her husband, son David and daughter Hanni. Becca Stoll also works for the business and is considered part of the family.

"I'm just not a Schwanke," Stoll said.

Light Works opened after a previous lighting showroom in Steamboat closed, Nancy Schwanke said. Before that, she had worked in lighting through her husband's company, Aspen Electric & Supply.

Saving electricity is one of the highlights of the job. Schwanke said she recently worked with Dulany Condominiums on a lighting project that reduced consumption from 7,338 watts to 2,413 watts.

"With Steamboat having the projects we have … it's huge what we can do to reduce energy consumption," Schwanke said. "It's really exciting."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

Go back to article