- Energy Improvements
- Apply for Grants
- High 5 RFV
When two dedicated Carbondalians decided to hand-build their dream home from scratch, and pull off the ultimate green-building magic trick — creating a home that produces more energy than it uses — they made many discoveries.
1) It is possible to build something beautiful, affordable and beyond carbon neutral. (They beat the “HERS” rating by a factor of 10.)
When Scott Gilbert, president of Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley, describes how his team works, he pulls from the modern Japanese concept of kaizen, or “change for better.” This commitment to continuous improvement, made famous in business circles by Toyota (with whom Gilbert previously worked), fits the organization to a tee.
“We have used kaizen to inspire our team to be better and better at our daily work and outcomes, and to raise our sights as to what we could achieve.” It’s worked so well, he says, that “We have, quite frankly, even surprised ourselves.”
Not only do they aim to create more affordable housing more quickly, increasingly the organization wants to build the most affordable green homes possible.
So when Habitat RFV decided that it was time to build a “forever home” for its ReStore retail operations in Glenwood Springs — giving themselves the kind of permanence that they deliver to their clients — one of their first phone calls was to CORE. Having worked with our organization in years past, they understood the value of early technical expertise and grant feasibility to figure out how they could create the tightest build for their budget, with energy efficiency and renewable energy at the top of their list.
“We knew if we were building a home for ourselves, green would have to be a part of it,” added construction manager Dana Dalla Betta.
Sustainable building wasn’t always on the radar for Habitat. But over the last several years, the organization evolved from simply using green practices to being at the forefront of the movement in affordable housing. The local team pioneered a net zero home (buildings that produce as much energy as they consume) in Rifle in 2011, followed by a LEED Platinum home in Carbondale in 2013. Solar panels now top 14 of the 25 homes they have built in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Building with efficiency and sustainability in mind became part of their long-term goal when they realized, as Dalla Betta describes, “If we can lower our clients’ carry costs — what they pay in utilities — then it remains affordable in the long-term for them.”
Another light bulb moment occurred when leaders recognized that the same would be true of their proposed 40,500-square foot ReStore: any savings harvested from lower operating costs would be funnelled into their homebuilding fund, allowing them to better realize their mission to create housing. Green building could pay for itself, and then some.
Habitat’s Design team (including Green Line Architects and SGM Engineers) was leaning toward a pre-engineered metal building as a cost-effective building type. However, steel structures, notoriously lousy in the thermal performance department, suffer from air loss and thermal bridging (temperature being conducted through the building material, in this case, steel) at the structural ribs. The standard insulation package for a steel facility includes only batt blanket insulation between the posts, which tends to compress upon contact with the steel structure. The upshot? The usefulness of the insulation is canceled out.
Working with CORE’s Grants Director Marty Treadway, who brings a building performance trifecta to the table (an architecture degree, a former contractor’s license and Certified Energy Manager certificate), the team brainstormed ideas to improve on the shortcomings of steel structures. Ultimately, they decided to wrap the exterior in continuous, rigid insulation to meet both the energy goals and the building manufacturers’ constraints. The result is a solution that will minimize heat loss and improve the overall tightness of the envelope. Kaizen!
This no-cost technical advising was just the surface of the CORE-Habitat collaboration. Over the course of three years, Treadway guided Habitat to apply for CORE funding: a $12,000 Design Assistance Grant for a feasibility study and two Randy Udall Energy Pioneer matching grants totalling $200,000 for a 50-kilowatt rooftop solar photovoltaic system and the building envelope improvements.
“Without CORE’s grant funding, we wouldn’t have been able to finance the costs of the energy efficiency improvements,” said Dalla Betta. The grant for the building envelope reduced Habitat’s capital costs, brought the payback down to an attractive five-year period, and leveraged financing from lenders.
Habitat broke ground on its new ReStore in March and hopes to open its doors early next year. Annual energy savings for the facility are anticipated to roll in at $24,000, which will be reinvested in their homebuilding fund. One hundred thirty thousand kilowatt hours of electricity and 13,500 therms of natural gas are also on the chopping block, helping to lower the carbon footprint of building footprint, which comes in just under an acre.
“The support and encouragement from CORE can’t be underestimated,” says Dalla Betta. She describes the nonprofit as “a great advocate and partner in helping push us further than we might have on our own.” Could this be continuous improvement at work? We’re betting that Gilbert, the kaizen disciple, would say yes.
Did You Know?
CORE annually awards more than $600,000 in grants for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the Roaring Fork Valley and offers free technical and financial advising. If you have a commercial, institutional or industrial development project (new construction or retrofit) that you would like to explore, please reach out — as early in the process as possible — to Marty Treadway at 970.925.9775 ext. 504. Learn more about CORE’s grant program here and note the deadlines: Design Assistance and Community Grants are rolling, while TRUE Pioneer (The Randy Udall Energy) Grants is May 1. CORE also offers a Net Zero Home grant for homeowners, also with a rolling deadline.
Hannah Itzler is all about “on-the-ground change.” The Florida native put this motto to work when cycling across the country with Bike & Build in the summer of 2015. In the company of 29 fellow riders, she logged 4,233 miles and 18 work days — pitching in on everything from hanging drywall to building a foundation — in the service of affordable housing.
After dipping her bike wheels in the Pacific Ocean, Hannah landed back in Aspen, where she has vacationed with her family and lived part-time over the last decade. She set about pursuing her passion for environmental planning — in which she earned a master’s degree, following an undergraduate degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment from the University of Florida — and struck upon the opening for Energy Program Coordinator at CORE.
We are delighted to welcome Hannah to the team! The new role will provide Hannah with another opportunity for hands-on change. She will oversee CORE’s income-qualified program, helping homeowners and renters affordably minimize their home’s energy consumption and costs while also creating a safer and more sustainable environment in which to live.
Next month Hannah will add to her construction and academic background by training with the Building Performance Institute to achieve her building analyst certification and will begin working directly with clients shortly thereafter.
When asked why she wanted to work with CORE, Hannah said: “Helping people — as cliche as that is — but it’s true.” No surprise coming from someone who was willing to pedal herself across the country to do just that.
The High Five Action of the Month: Get a Home Energy Assessment
The High Five movement kicked off with a bang! During the first week of April, some 300 participants helped us to celebrate and demonstrate that Environment + Art + Community = Action. And Fun.
Guests were on hand at the Aspen Brewing Company and later at The Launchpad to experience the premiere of the “Snow Drawing” short with talented young filmmaker Sam Blakeslee, release their guilty energy secrets in the Energy Confessional art installation, make Energy Warrior art with Reina Katzenberger in Carbondale Arts’ Rosybelle mobile maker-space bus. And most importantly, sign on to take the High Five pledge: committing to five energy-saving actions (or more!) in 2017.
“Our valley of bird watchers, powder seekers, fort builders and trail blazers all want the same thing: a healthy environment,” said CORE executive director Mona Newton. “That’s why we are giving you easy solutions you can accomplish each month.”
It’s not too late to join the movement!
Get started today:
We couldn’t have done it with the generosity of a consortium of utilities, businesses, municipalities and individuals. Many thanks to our sponsors:
The High Five is co-presented by:
And generously sponsored by:
In collaboration with:
With support from our donors:
Sustainability starts at home, something that’s not lost on the Town of Basalt. The Town’s newly adopted Basalt Climate Action Plan and Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community promises a path to reduce emissions, starting with its own operations.
The plans include an aggressive goal for the Basalt community: reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
But, perhaps the biggest pledge of the Basalt Climate Action Plan is the vow to share the responsibility: the Town will consider allocating $100,000/year to fund energy efficiency projects in town facilities.
The Town realizes that energy efficiency is an extremely effective way to reduce emissions and generate utility bill savings. Approximately 70% of Basalt’s emissions come from the energy used in homes and businesses. To that end, building energy became a focal point of the Plan.
The commitment to retrofit the Town’s building stock is a major milestone in Basalt’s climate efforts. “We want to show a new level of leadership by walking the walk,” said Susan Philp, Basalt Planning Director and Green Team staff liaison.
The Plan lays out six strategies to achieve real results. This blueprint for action is so utilitarian and common sense that it goes on for just two pages.
Green Team member and town councilman Auden Schendler said: “We’re trying to be like Warren Buffet here with his one-page contracts. We know our carbon goals are wildly ambitious. That’s why we want to spend our time on action, not extensive analysis and reports. So we’re focusing on carbon reductions in buildings and influencing public policy.” Among other actions, the Plan calls on Basalt to advocate for more clean energy, and to enforce more stringent building codes.
Adoption is just the beginning. Next comes the hard part: actually taking action. Encouragingly, Basalt is off to a great start, with help from CORE.
In 2016, CORE helped to kick-start the climate action planning effort by completing an emissions inventory. Since then we have partnered with the Town to upgrade all streetlights to LEDs and identify other climate friendly projects. On tap is an effort to upgrade bulbs in town facilities to LEDs. With CORE’s support, the Town has secured a grant from the Aspen Skiing Company’s Environmental Foundation to make this happen.
Next up on Basalt’s plate for 2017:
Now it’s your turn to bring it home. Where will you begin? For inspiration, connect with The High Five, a new social movement that CORE and the City of Aspen are launching to take action on the environment by saving energy. Get action ideas, start saving energy and win!
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! The Electric Vehicle Sales EVent is about to speed off the line.
Four Colorado dealers have stepped up to offer discounts on seven models of electric vehicles (EV) during the regional sales program that will be held April 1 through June 30, 2017. In this 90-day window, interested car buyers can reap discounts from $300 to $8,000 on EVs from regional dealers of Audi, Chevrolet, Nissan and BMW. This is on top of up to $12,500 in combined state and federal subsidies on the no- and low-emissions cars.
It’s ready-set-go time to get into an EV.
|Dealer||Model||Type||MSRP||Dealer discount||Colorado subsidy||Federal subsidy|
|Audi Glenwood Springs||A3 e-tron||PHEV||$44,195||$2,210||$5,000||up to $4,085|
|Mountain Chevrolet||Volt||PHEV||$34,095||$1,000||$5,000||up to $7,500|
|Bolt||BEV||$37,495||$300||$5,000||up to $7,500|
||Leaf S||BEV||$33,515||$8,000||$5,000||up to $7,500|
|Leaf SV||BEV||$35,255||$8,000||$5,000||up to $7,500|
|Co’s BMW Center||i3 REX||BEV||$49,145||$3,000||$5,000||up to $7,500|
|X5 xDrive40e||PHEV||$70,145||$4,000||$5,000||up to $4,200|
|530e xDrive||PHEV||$62,835||$3,000||$5,000||up to $4,200|
What They’re Saying
During a March 15 press conference announcing the program, Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron praised the efficiency of EVs: “Electric vehicles are less costly to fuel, with the electricity equivalent of a gallon of gasoline costing about $1.10 per ‘e-gallon’.” Skadron said more affordable fuel and less overall maintenance means electric vehicles can help reduce the cost of living in resort communities.
How It Works
During this “group buy,” individuals work directly with the dealers to test drive vehicles and make their purchases. To take advantage of the savings, prospective buyers should mention the EV Sales Event when they initiate contact with the dealer and make sure the dealer remembers to calculate in the discount at the time of sale.
Who’s Making This Happen?
CORE is part of a tri-county effort partnering to deliver the EV Sales Event. The program is spearheaded by Refuel Colorado (a program of the Colorado Energy Office) and Garfield Clean Energy and managed by CLEER. More information is available here.
EV Sales Event Partners:
With buildings as the largest source of carbon emissions — accounting for up to 70% of greenhouse gas emissions — the importance of exploring innovative technologies and new tools in the building industry is hard to ignore. If we are going to achieve measurable improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy, a qualified workforce in the valley is a necessity. The Energy Smart Contractor Expo is making that happen.
Each year CORE partners with CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy (GCE) to empower the local workforce with an all-day event focused on making connections and learning the latest advances in the field. The 3rd annual Expo will take place April 27 in Glenwood Springs.
“We are excited to partner again on an event that provides our local workforce with the opportunity to explore energy efficiency, new technology, and best business practices,” says Maisa Metcalf, Energy Coach and Residential Program Manager for CLEER.
The three organizations all encourage local residents — across Pitkin, Eagle, and Garfield counties —to upgrade their homes with energy efficiency measures such as LEDs, air sealing, insulation, and high efficiency mechanical equipment. But oftentimes the homeowner can’t do it alone. That’s where the contractors come in: to get the recommended energy efficiency upgrades done.
The Roaring Fork Valley is known for its dedication to creating a sustainable and resilient community. Our local contractors, builders, and architects are vital in making strides in energy efficiency and renewables. The Expo is the opportunity to bring people together to talk about building science and home performance, local rebate incentives, building codes, and innovation. It creates a dialogue and works to sustain a workforce that can help reach carbon reduction goals throughout the valley.
Participants can expect a full day of discussions working to advance clean energy in the Roaring Fork Valley. The morning starts off with a two-hour expo, where local suppliers and installers will have products and services on display. The afternoon breakout sessions include topics on energy efficient rooftop units, grid-connected solar and storage, commercial and residential codes, and challenges and best practices for builders.
Sound intriguing? The Expo is open to all. Sign up and get details at the Energy Smart Colorado website.
Gold Sponsors | Silver Sponsors:
Capturing People’s Imagination to Capture Their Participation
How do you get people’s attention in a way that moves them to action?
This is the question that climate change begs — and that CORE and the City of Aspen must tackle as we work together to help people save energy and cut carbon pollution in the Roaring Fork Valley. The crisis will take all of us to solve, so it’s imperative that we involve more people in the solution.
Understanding that engaging people’s imagination is just as important as engaging their minds, the two organizations are collaborating on a new community outreach project called The High Five that brings art into the climate conversation.
The goal is to get more community members taking more energy-saving steps, that ultimately, will result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Note the word “steps.” That’s where a new art project, Snow Drawings, gets its inspiration. On March 16, artist Sonja Hinrichsen will present a community environmental art project that uses the steps taken by snowshoers to create a monumental work of outdoor art.
She makes large-scale environmental art pieces, scribing lines in the snow (what she calls “snow canvases”) using snowshoes and a team of community volunteers. Together, they “draw” large patterns in the environment by walking lines into fresh snow surfaces.
The artist describes these communal events as “a symbiosis between immersive nature experience, walking meditation and collaborative art-making.” Her aim is to more deeply connect people to their natural environment.
As moving as the resulting work is, the Snow Drawing project is not art for art’s sake. The project was selected in part because it employs an individual mark to create a collective impression, much as individual energy-saving actions create a collective impact. In that way, CORE and the City will use Snow Drawings to demonstrate how each step, however small, contributes to a greater whole.
“This is a new way to tell a story that connects the dots between personal action and communal impact,” says Mona Newton, CORE’s Executive Director.
And not just for those making the artwork. The piece itself is ephemeral, lasting only as long as the next snow storm, or snowmelt. However, enduring aerial photographs reveal to a larger audience how the landscape is transformed into a piece of art through cooperation. Sonja observes: “This changes our perception of the landscape and accentuates the beauty and magic of the natural environment, and thus inspires awe and appreciation for art, as well as for nature.”
CORE and the City hope that the stunning imagery, combined with a new way of looking at the natural world, will resonate with the Roaring Fork Valley. The public participatory art project — one of two privately-funded endeavors the organizations will produce this year — has the “wonder factor” to arouse curiosity and inspire conversation. They hope it will provide an entry point to learning more about what’s going on in our rapidly changing world. The project will kick off The High Five, the multi-faceted, yearlong public awareness campaign that the partners are launching next month.
“Once we have captured people’s imagination, we’ve got the energy-saving actions, education and incentives ready to capture their participation,” says Lara Whitley, Marketing and Engagement Manager for CORE.
“In this way, art has the potential to change the way we think about — and act on — climate.”
Check out a video of this project, created by local filmmaker Sam Blakeslee, here.
Heat Pumps a Revolution in Home Heating
Saving on your utility bills, reducing energy use, lowering your carbon footprint — all admirable goals for the modern homeowner. But how can one do it all? The answer: innovation.
Innovation starts at home when you incorporate a heat pump to heat your home. While heat pump technology is anything but new, recent advances in the industry make this a viable heating option in colder climates.
Heat pumps work like your refrigerator, but in reverse. They move heat from the outside into your home. Yes, that’s right, heat from outside — when it’s cold! How do heat pumps achieve this? First, the outdoor unit of the heat pump moves air or water through a heat exchange fluid. The fluid is then compressed, causing the temperature to become hotter. The inside unit of the heat pump then distributes that warm air or water into the home. (1) This explanation is simplified — certainly not the in-depth version you’d learn in science class — but you get the gist.
Heat pumps are different than other systems because instead of generating heat, they move it. With this technology, “heat pumps can provide equivalent space conditioning at as little as one quarter of the cost of operating conventional heating.” (2) Compared to baseboard heaters and furnaces, heat pumps can reduce your electricity consumption by up to 50%. (3)
That is, unless heat is escaping from your house due to lack of air sealing and insulation. It is important to approach your home as an ecosystem, taking into account how everything is connected. Leaky windows, inadequate insulation, or poor air barriers could result in your home being too permeable for a heat pump to be effective. Consider looking at the whole picture of your home’s energy use and get a home energy assessment.
So now we’ve got your attention. What can CORE do to help? We offer three different rebates for homes interested in moving toward heat pump technology: ductless (mini-split), ground source, and electric (water heaters). Our website is your go-to for more information on rebates, as well as home energy assessment sign-ups.
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