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Town of CB ready to tackle greenhouse gas emissions issue

Public discussions to begin

By Mark Reaman

A baseline inventory of Crested Butte’s greenhouse gas emissions indicates there is opportunity in town to curb such emissions and become more sustainable in terms of energy use. Addressing ways to reduce emissions generated from electrical use in Crested Butte buildings appears to be a place to start.

Dr. Abel Chávez, director of the Community Solutions Incubation and Innovation (CS21) Lab of Western State Colorado University, compiled the inventory and associated report. He gave a report to the council in July and explained that the baseline study is intended to be a “conversation starter” with the community.

Chávez said Crested Butte’s footprint is pretty average and in line with most of the United States in terms of metric tons of carbon dioxide produced. It is estimated the town emits about 51,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, with 48 percent of that coming from electricity use. The town’s electricity use is above average according to the report; that is the largest single contributor to the emissions figure.

“The town’s residential electricity use benchmark is notably higher compared to the same for the county, state, and nation,” Chávez said. “Often, communities have lowered building electricity use by shifting behavior and/or building infrastructure design. How the town can address it would be determined at a later stage.”

Jessie Earley of the town’s building department agreed there are ways to address that issue. “The big area that we need to improve is residential building energy use, which confirmed what we’ve known for some time,” she explained. “As buildings are built and/or significantly remodeled they are brought up to current codes. Until then, for all of the other buildings, we have to figure out how to reach out and help homeowners find tools to help make their homes more efficient.”

The big picture conversation on the emissions topic will likely include many people in the community. “One of the next phases may include a series of roundtables with the community,” Chávez said. “Sharing the data and schematics often provides insights. I am in favor of best practice sharing among communities, and given that the county has been engaged in this type of conversation for some time, I believe their know-how is quite advanced. “

“We definitely need to look at the county plan and develop our own plan in collaboration with the county,” said Crested Butte councilman Chris Haver.

“It seems like the political will is there in town,” added councilman Will Dujardin.

“It would start with convening a core group of folks and getting the community process going,” suggested Chávez. “We can help facilitate the process. We have the tools for tracking and can help write an action plan.”

Earley said the town plans to “organize another meeting with stakeholders from all different facets here in Crested Butte to discuss the results of the study and next steps.”

Any community members interested in getting involved can contact Earley at town hall or by calling (970) 349-5338.

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