Mandatory LEED certifications for the school and annexation?
A Crested Butte ski resort without snow by the middle of this century? The Wildflower Capitol of Colorado without wildflowers? Extreme cycles of moisture interspersed with long periods of drought and oil at $200 a barrel all playing havoc with Crested Butte’s town budget? Those were definite possibilities presented to the Crested Butte Town Council Monday night by Alison Gannett, local advocate of making people aware of the consequences of Global Warming… or, as she calls the situation, “Global Weirding.”
With the help of a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation, Gannett said given the path the planet is on, Crested Butte could lose 70 percent of its snowpack and water in 45 years. “The best-case scenario according to the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization is that there would be a 24 percent decline in snowpack by 2039,” she explained. “The CEO of Aspen ski resort, Pat O’Donnell, is saying that under the circumstances, skiing could be hampered if not perhaps gone by 2050.”
To global warming skeptics, Gannett points out that there are indeed regular cycles of the planet warming and cooling every 150,000 years or so.
But, Gannett noted, the temperatures in the last several decades are so out of whack that the planet is extremely out of balance compared to historical norms.
“If you look at the situation and what we have here, there could be severe repercussions on tourism,” she said. “The beetle kill impacting most of Colorado right now will eventually make its way here and impact our forests. The aspen trees over Kebler Pass are dying off. The wildflowers are being replaced by sagebrush, with higher temperatures. If the big snowstorms come, we struggle to deal with too much snow and it costs the town money in people and plowing. If the snow doesn’t come, the tourists stay away. It’s all part of global weirding. But if we plan in advance, we can be better prepared as a town.”
While the town has done some things in this area such as building an inventory of greenhouse emissions, she said not enough is being done. “The new Kyoto Treaty, known as the Bali-Stockholm agreement, is set to come on line in 2012 and it makes a lot of energy requirements mandatory. Those requirements aren’t easy to meet. It requires some planning.”
Both the town as a community and individuals on their own can make an impact, she stated. Gannett explained that one-third of an individual’s carbon footprint can be reduced by eating organic foods and those grown locally. She said paper consumption is the world’s third largest consumer of carbon so she suggested the town use less paper. She said eliminating plastic bottles makes a difference, as does replacing old light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. She said simply turning off lights and using a laptop computer instead of a desktop makes an impact on the amount of carbon emitted.
Gannett said that given some things on the town’s plate like the possibility of a new school, a new annexation and a new ice rink, the town should demand strict energy-efficient guidelines. One way to do this, she said, was for the town to consider its own carbon tax.
She urged the council to not just throw darts at green ideas but rather to “be environmentalists with a business plan,” and investigate the real ways embracing green ideas can save the town money.
If the new school expansion is approved by voters this fall, Gannett said, the council should insist the building is LEED-(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. “It may be exempt from having to meet that certification but in the Intergovernmental Agreement you work out with the school district in regards to Tommy V field, you can make it a requirement that the new building has to be LEED-certified. That will guarantee that the kids won’t get ill from sick building materials and the additional cost can be recovered quickly in energy savings, usually in a year. The power is in your hands to do this.”
Gannett said the same certification should be applied if an ice rink is approved, and as far as annexation, there is a LEED certification for neighborhood standards she urged the council to implement.
“Everything we have here is at stake,” she said. “The reality is that our kids are looking at a not-so-bright future. We need to walk the walk if we’re going to talk the talk.”
Mayor Alan Bernholtz admitted to Gannett that they had “a lot of work ahead of us.” Both Gannett and Bernholtz urged citizens to attend the upcoming Energy Summit, sponsored by the local Office of Resource Efficiency, scheduled for the middle of next week.