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Top 11 Things We Learned During the Aspen Energy Challenge
A race to a cleaner, more energy-efficient future, involving millions of homeowners, more than 100 utilities, 50 communities, and one $5 million-dollar award. That’s the Georgetown University Energy Prize. In 2014, Aspen threw its hat in the ring of the two-year effort (known locally as the Aspen Energy Challenge) along with CORE, Holy Cross and Black Hills Energy. Together, we were determined to help the community save as much energy as possible. Here’s what we discovered along the way.
Cozying up to a crackling fire sounds pretty inviting on these cold, short days. How about chimney fires, air pollution and smoke inhalation hazards? Not so much.
If you use a wood stove or fireplace, it’s key to learn before you burn. Breathing wood smoke may negatively affect your health. To save money and have a safer and healthier home, remember these three tips:
By burning wise, you can reap all the warmth — and none of the cold reality — of your wood fire.
This message has been provided by the Town of Carbondale Environmental Advisory Board and the Environmental Protection Agency.
It used to be if an Aspen High student wanted to shoot hoops in the gym, 28 metal halide fixtures would turn on, flooding the entire 15,000-square foot space with 30,000 watts of power. These lights would remain on all day, unless someone happened to turn them off. The old system — a best practice in its day — was akin to using a blow torch to light a match.
Today the story is different, thanks to a growing partnership with CORE — along with synergy from the City of Aspen and Aspen Skiing Company — that opened the doors to a $125,000 “Think Big” matching grant from Holy Cross Energy.
Nowadays, high-tech occupancy sensors on new individual energy-efficient fixtures identify whether anyone is present in the gym, casting targeted light on the activity area without unnecessarily burning energy when and where it’s not needed. This system — typical of the recent lighting retrofits and automated building controls across Aspen High, Middle and Elementary Schools — saved the District more than $54,000 and half a million kilowatt hours in in electricity, resulting in an annual reduction of 25%. At this rate, most of these 2014 installations are projected to pay for themselves by the end of 2017, and will then start reaping dividends for the District.
“Do that year after year and that’s a teaching position that we can create and maintain in perpetuity, just by changing some light bulbs,” said Assistant Superintendent Tom Heald.
“Thinking big matters,” said Mona Newton, Executive Director of CORE. “By working together, we can achieve massive energy savings, lowering our community’s carbon footprint while providing a roadmap for other big buildings on how to have significant impact. That’s the route to scale.”
CORE’s sights — and educational partnerships — don’t stop at the city limits. When it was time for Aspen Community School to replace their failing schoolhouse in Woody Creek, the charter public school also turned to CORE. Our $152,500 investment in grants funded leading-edge energy technology and design in the new construction, debuting in 2015. Features included:
“With this grant, we moved from an energy-deficient to ‘energy-magnificent’ public campus and we hope this will inspire others to join our cause,” said executive director Skye Skinner.
Back on the Aspen campus, the appetite, and opportunities, for sustainable energy are expanding. Deeper lighting retrofits for the elementary school, highly efficient motors throughout the schools, and solar PV arrays on rooftops are all on the District’s radar.
These upgrades will improve the District’s bottom line while tying into its mission to instill life skills and citizenship in its students.
“We hope students will look at the world in its entirety,” says Heald. “We all have economic and carbon footprints and we need to be mindful of that.”
To learn more about CORE’s grants and rebates for businesses, public institutions and nonprofits, and find out how you can benefit from free technical and financial advising on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, contact Marty Treadway at 970.925.9775 ext. 504.
Feeling powerless about climate change after the election? Here are five things you can do to lower your carbon footprint and change your energy future.
It’s simple. Being more energy efficient means creating less demand on power plants. Which means that taking care of your home or our business by taking these steps isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for the planet.
And knowing that we don’t have to wait for politicians to solve our energy problems is an immediate mood booster.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency
The Mug Shot Contest is back during the month of November, inviting Valley residents to ditch their single-use cups for a chance to win at their favorite coffee shop. Waste Free Roaring Fork, along with 11 local cafes, is hosting the community-wide challenge to raise awareness and reduce disposable cups in the waste stream.
Each week of the month, customers who post a “mug shot” — a photo showing the use of a reusable mug at any local café — to the Waste Free Roaring Fork Facebook page will be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to one of the Valley coffee shops participating in the contest, plus a reusable mug. The more you post, the more chances you have to win.
The Mug Shot Contest, which is collaboratively produced by CORE and the City of Aspen, also supports local businesses, including these cafes from Aspen to Carbondale that have signed on to participate:
Since 1994, when CORE was established, Holy Cross Energy has been on board. Not just on the board of directors, where they have made important contributions for 22 years, but also on board with advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Holy Cross Energy has helped CORE bring in new technologies, such as figuring out how to deploy rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on the grid when we launched our first solar rebate program. And the energy co-op has shared in the challenges and successes of initiatives such as the Wind Power Program, REMP-leveraged opportunities, and the Somerset methane-to-electricity project. Holy Cross Energy, thank you for standing by our side and helping to shape CORE for more than two decades of partnership.
When Aspen homeowner Erik Skarvan learned of the pervasive mold creeping through his Centennial condo’s exteriors, it was disastrous news. But the mold mitigation work had an unexpected benefit, sparking a conversation with CORE’s Building Science Coordinator, Charlie Eckart, about interior upgrades Erik could make to his home — free of charge for qualifying residents. The result was energy-efficiency improvements for Erik that will continue to pay off down the line.
As part of Energy Smart Colorado’s Income-Qualified program, Erik received a free home energy assessment, Energy Star appliances including a refrigerator, water heater and thermostat, and coaching throughout the process.
“It was really easy and I got guidance all the way through,” says Skarvan. The new fridge alone, which replaced a 20-year-old model, “is functioning better, looks better, is more efficient and just better all around.”
The Income-Qualified program is designed to help residents take control over their utility bills and improve the comfort and safety of their home. Visit the Income-Qualified Program page on CORE’s website to find out if you or someone you know is eligible for this low-income energy-efficiency program.
Green building in the Roaring Fork Valley got a six-figure boost last month when CORE awarded $626,684 in grants to two dozen local organizations pursuing commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
“We’re proud to honor these innovative projects that are supporting clean air, smart energy and a stable climate,” said Mona Newton, executive director of CORE. “By using less energy, we can have the biggest impact on lowering carbon emissions and building a safer, healthier community.”
The 2016 Randy Udall Energy Pioneer Grants — the organization’s largest grant category — will facilitate work such as solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays that offset 100% of buildings’ energy consumption, energy-efficiency retrofits in employee housing, natural daylighting in classrooms, solar charging stations for a bike share program, and much more.
CORE’s grants are made possible by REMP, the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program that the organization pioneered with the City of Aspen and Pitkin County to mitigate excessive energy usage with grants and other smart energy initiatives.
“Think snowmelt payments for solar funding,” said Newton.
By supporting more sustainable building practices, CORE’s grant program helps save energy, protect the climate and strengthen the economy. To date, CORE has granted over $8.2 million through REMP funds for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the Roaring Fork Valley. This year alone, CORE’s investment in the local economy is anticipated to offset 4.39 million pounds of CO2 emissions.
CORE’s Class of 2016 grantees include 24 local businesses, nonprofits, municipalities and institutions:*
• Aspen: Aspen Historical Society, Aspen School District, Aspen Skiing Company, City of Aspen, Pitkin County, WE-Cycle
• Basalt: Full Circle Construction Services, Rock Bottom Ranch
• Carbondale: Children’s Rocky Mountain School, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Energetics Education, Third Street Center,
• Glenwood Springs: Habitat for Humanity, Two Rivers Community School
• Pitkin County: Pitkin County Landfill
• Snowmass Village: Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Town of Snowmass Village
To learn more about the CORE grants program, and how you can apply for a grant, visit the CORE Grants webpage.
*Some organizations received more than one grant, distributed within different departments within the organization.
Considering a new car? There’s never been a better time to get into an electric vehicle (EV). With up to $12,500 in State and Federal tax credits available next year, Colorado will soon have the best subsidies in the country. Advances like longer driving ranges, a boost in the number of models available at local dealers, and nearly 200 charging plugs on the Western Slope (including five RFTA chargers made possible by CORE grants) mean owning and operating EVs are easier than ever for Roaring Fork Valley drivers.
The benefits of driving an electric vehicle include zero tailpipe emissions, low maintenance, quiet ride, and ease of operation, to name a few.
After flipping through the Consumer Federation of America’s EV “Car Book,” the bible of all things EV in a snappy 16 pages, check out the new tax subsidies that the State of Colorado and the Feds will be offering for EV purchases starting on January 1, 2017:
2017 EV Tax Credit Snapshot
|Amount||Type||Good to Know|
|State of Colorado||Flat $5000||“Cash on the Hood” or tax credit||Eliminates the MSRP calculation from 2016|
|Federal Government||Up to $7500||Tax credit||Consult your tax accountant about offsetting capabilities|
For more on Colorado’s EV Tax Credit calculations and other incentives, visit Refuel Colorado, the State’s clearinghouse on alternative fuel vehicles.
Adding to the bounty, a growing group of local entities that includes CORE, CLEER, Garfield Clean Energy, and the City of Aspen are collaborating with Refuel Colorado to explore an EV bulk purchase like Boulder’s, which could provide additional dealer discounts to interested buyers. The local transportation group is in its early stages, checking the feasibility of financial incentives such as this, as well as educational and infrastructure support like “Ride & Drive” events and creating a seamless network of high-capacity chargers.
Stay tuned for details and check out what’s coming down the road with the local auto dealers who are offering (or plan to offer) these eight EV models in our area:
|Audi||A3 PHEV||Glenwood Springs|
|Chevrolet||Volt PHEV and Bolt BEV||Glenwood Springs|
|Chrysler||Pacifica PHEV||Glenwood Springs|
|Ford||CMax Energi PHEV, Fusion Energi PHEV and Focus Electric BEV||Glenwood Springs|
|Nissan||Leaf BEV||Grand Junction|
|Tesla||Model S BEV and Model X BEV||Aspen & Vail|
Lingo lowdown, adapted from Refuel Colorado:
BEV = Battery Electric Vehicle, propelled by electricity that is stored in a battery and used by an electric motor. With BEVs, the charging station — including plugging in at home — is the new gas station.
PHEV = Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, which utilizes both electricity and gasoline to power the vehicle. They operate on electricity for a limited range before switching to a gasoline engine or motor for extended range.
Matt Shmigelsky of CLEER and Sarah Gruen of CORE contributed to this story. This post was updated on January 23, 2017.
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