CARBON-EMISSIONS REPORTS SHOW UPPER VALLEY NEEDS TO WORK HARDER AND FASTER TO REACH CLIMATE GOALS
CORE and Local Governments Release Latest Carbon-Emissions Findings

(October 2, 2019) Aspen, CO — Today, on National Energy Efficiency Day, a partnership of upper valley governments supported by the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) are announcing their communities’ progress on and opportunities for carbon-emissions reductions.

The four local governments — Aspen, Basalt, Snowmass Village and Pitkin County — who have been collaborating with CORE on shared climate action steps since 2016, today released their latest greenhouse gas emissions reports. The findings tell a common story: there is some progress being made on climate goals, but much more work to be done for communities to achieve their greenhouse gas-reduction targets. The reports are available at www.aspencore.org/community.

“We’re making gains, overall emissions are down, but we’re not doing enough, fast enough,” said Mona Newton, executive director of CORE. “To protect the climate, our local economies and the environment, we have to work together as a region. Everyone has a part to play.”

“Local governments have a critical role in solving the climate crisis, shoulder to shoulder with community members and organizations,” said City of Aspen Mayor Torre. “Getting it done will take everybody working together on solutions,” he said.

Key Findings + Top Drivers of Emissions Reductions

Results from the four emissions reports show that overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are down, from 2 to 12 percent over 2014 levels, in the upper valley. This is notable given that population and economies have experienced growth during this same time period, demonstrating that the Roaring Fork Valley has been able to effectively reduce GHG emissions while simultaneously growing the economy and serving a greater number of residents. 

Report authors attribute the communities’ progress to five factors: robust building codes; more efficient use of energy in buildings; an increase in the amount of renewable electricity used by local utilities; effective public transit and increases in vehicle fuel economy (particularly in Aspen); and impactful composting and re-use programs (especially in Snowmass Village). Without these programs, community-wide emissions would have likely followed the upward trend of population and economy.

The largest share of emissions are from the energy used in buildings: 63% on average for the upper valley. The greatest decrease in emissions was seen in the electricity sector, primarily due to Holy Cross Energy’s efforts to make the grid cleaner and to Aspen Electric’s 100% renewable energy portfolio. The utility initiatives have helped to cut GHG emissions and to offset communities’ overall electricity consumption, which has fluctuated — up as high as 3%, down as much as 3% — during the same time period.  This indicates that renewable energy alone will not get us to our climate goals. Continued improvements in energy efficiency, along with electrification, remain key opportunities.

Shared Goals

Each of the communities has undertaken climate action steps such as energy-efficiency building codes, supporting local renewable power, and adoption of a sustainability or climate action plan. The municipalities of Aspen, Basalt and Snowmass have also set emissions-reduction targets. In the case of Aspen, which has been a leader in the field, this work dates back to 2004. Aspen is targeting 30% reductions by 2020 and 80% by 2050, over a 2004 baseline and has achieved a 20.5% reduction to date. The Town of Basalt has adopted reduction goals of 25% by 2025 and a minimum of 80% by 2050 and has achieved a 2% reduction through 2017. Snowmass Village is on pace to meet its goal of 20% reduction by 2020 over its 2009 baseline, and has achieved a 17% reduction through 2017.

The nonprofit and local governments have also partnered on educational programs; provided community access to CORE’s financial incentives such as rebates and grants; and community outreach.  Future joint work could include: alignment among all entities to adopt a roadmap for net-zero energy codes by 2030; increasing electric vehicle fleets and charging stations; benchmarking energy use of commercial buildings; and boosting energy efficiency in all existing buildings. The emissions reports — compiled and presented collaboratively — identify opportunities for the greatest local emissions reductions and for greater regional collaboration.

Opportunities for Residents

Officials from CORE and the local governments recommend seven steps that residents can take:

  1. Sign up for an energy assessment for your home or business from CORE. 
  2. Improve the energy efficiency of your space (home, business or public building).
  3. Increase your mix of renewable electricity by enrolling in the Purchase Renewable Energy (PuRE) program by Holy Cross Energy at https://www.holycross.com/pure/.
  4. Tell your elected officials that you want more renewable energy projects and energy benchmarking of buildings.
  5. Purchase an electric vehicle through the Electric Vehicle Sales Event (Dealer discounts available now through October 31 at www.garfieldcleanenergy.org/ev2019) and attend a free EV Workshop at Buttermilk on October 2 (www.aspencore.org).
  6. Be conscious of the emissions related to your actions, knowing that if we all take steps they add up.
  7. Stay informed and engaged.

More information is available from CORE at www.aspencore.org/community and 970.925.9775. 

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