Everything completed in the Glenwood Springs 2009 Climate Action Plan, updates coming

City of Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Supervisor Matt Urmson talks about the Xericscaping demonstration garden coming to the corner of Eighth Street and Midland next spring. The garden will have a trail with drought tolerant plants and information signs demonstrating how Xericscaping works in drought stricken areas.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Glenwood Springs is updating its Climate Action Plan and here is some of the work that’s been done up to this point over the last 13 years since the plan was created. 

In 2009, the city adopted an Energy and Climate Action Plan. The city council discussed budgeting $75,000 in Community Development’s professional services line to update the plan, according to a presentation during a work session on Nov. 3. 

Smart growth

Some of the steps the city has taken to be more environmentally conscious with new development includes incentivizing compact land use or high-density development that is near public transit stops. 

One example are the newer developments in the Glenwood Meadows, said Bryana Starbuck, public information officer for Glenwood Springs. 

City buildings

The city-owned Arts Center, the Community Center and City Hall have all had LED lighting conversions, including the parking lots. City Hall and the Community Center have had windows, poly seals and roofs replaced. The city has also changed over many of the street lights to LED lighting, and will continue that effort. 

The Community Center has also received upgrades with a new roof, a solar upgrade, water-conserving faucet replacements, pool leak mitigation, an upgraded compressor and replacement of redundant boilers with heat exchangers.

At City Hall the building infiltration and HVAC automation have been replaced, plus an upgrade to the rooftop unit radiators. 

The Glenwood Springs Arts Center also received insulation mitigation and a hot water tank replacement and expansion tank upgrade.

And, the relatively new wastewater plant has two geothermal loops that heat and cool the buildings.

Clean energy

When it comes to using clean energy, the city has founded and joined a few initiatives which include being a founding partner of Garfield Clean Energy (GCE), which is an intergovernmental collaborative that offers incentives like homeowner rebates for appliances, commercial retrofits and assistance with efficiency efforts in public facilities. 

The Glenwood Springs Electric Department provides funding to Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER), which administers GCE, and the city’s electric power wholesaler, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN), each year to help them with energy sustainability programs they manage for the city. 

“The main thing for residents to know is that the electricity that they purchase from the city is now supplied by one hundred percent renewable resources, instead of a mix of renewable and non-renewable resources,” Matt Langhorst, the city’s public works director, said in a previous interview.

Glenwood Springs has been 35% renewable on the electric grid since 2013 and moved to 100% green energy in 2019, the report acknowledges. The city became the seventh city in the nation to be 100% powered by renewable energy.

According to the report and MEAN, switching to 100% wind power saves the environment 77,156 tons of CO2 emissions that the city of Glenwood Springs would have “created” using fossil fuel power generation, the report states.

Open space, trees and landscaping

This year, Glenwood Springs hired an arborist, creating and hosting an Arbor Day celebration where the city planted 151 trees and also encouraged residents to plant new trees. 

Thirteen large trees and 110 saplings of varying species were planted in Two Rivers Park in 2022, according to the report. The city also distributed information to educate the community on a healthy city canopy and how to maintain it with tree diversity and prevention of infestations like the Ips beetles. 

The city was given a separate budget of $50,000 for water sustainability that is to be used for irrigation clock replacements, and replacing turf grass in low tracked areas with plants that are more water conscious, according to the report. 

The city also plans to work with and match the state in its water-wise landscaping program to replace overly irrigated turf. The Turf Replacement Plan incentivizes residential and commercial properties alike to make the switch. 

City of Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Supervisor Matt Urmson walks down the zigzag trail at Eight Street and Midland. The zigzag trail will be part of the Xericscaping demonstration garden in the open space next to Veltus Park. Xericscaping is the process of landscaping or gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for irrigation.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“City parks staff has a number of projects where we’ve switched out or are switching turf to lower water use plantings or other xeric landscaping,” Starbuck said. “An in-progress project is at the corner of Eighth and Midland in Veltus Park where we are switching that corner from turf grass to a demonstration xeric garden. The earth was turned up during installation of the new raw water line and is an example of how we’re looking to use water more efficiently while demonstrating what it could look like for folks to implement changes like this at home.”

The city is also working with engineers to restart and expand raw irrigation in south Glenwood once it is running again. 

And, city staff created an informational guide that’s posted on the city website for water-wise plant recommendations for Glenwood Springs. Once the water pipe project at Veltus is complete, the city will be replanting in the area as a demonstration project, according to the report. The city also has two community gardens for residents without yard space.

Transportation and city fleet

On the transportation front, the city has been and will continue to work with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority in transitioning to electric buses and the city plans to provide green energy for the buses. 

Transportation purchases for the city’s fleet includes seven hybrid vehicles and one electric vehicle. The city will continue replacing older vehicles with hybrid or electric vehicles for administration as needed, while the city has purchased low emission and fuel efficient vehicles for the city fleet for years now.

“The city first started purchasing hybrid vehicles in 2008 and have made the purchase of low emission and fuel-efficient vehicles part of our purchasing since,” Starbuck said. “The green technology varies between different vehicles and apparatus in our fleet.”

Grant funding was obtained this year for two separate projects, the Transit Expansion Analysis and the Transportation Demand Management to get more people on buses and off the road.  

Ride Glenwood Springs has about 17-18 rides an hour, according to the report, and the city plans to evaluate expanding the bus systems farther into north and south Glenwood. 

Various pedestrian walkways and trails were created, extended or replaced, which include West Midland Trail and 27th Street/Sunlight Bridge, and sidewalks throughout the city are maintained annually through the Americans with Disabilities Act ramp budgeting.

To help encourage people to ride bikes around town, the city added more bike racks on Seventh Street, with plans to add more throughout Glenwood. 

To help increase accessibility for electric vehicles, the city built free electric charging stations at City Hall, Sayre Park and the downtown parking garage

Waste reduction

To discourage people from wasting water, the city adopted an ordinance to enact a penalty for wasting water. This pairs with the summer watering schedule. 

The South Canyon Landfill is dry and does not produce methane as an option for energy collection, the report states. The landfill does compost, which includes trees that are chipped. Metal recycling is free and now freon-filled appliances can be disposed of properly at the landfill, too.

The city offers an annual residential hazardous waste and leaf collection, but separately. 

The landfill charges a large fine for construction and demolition being left combined, to promote sorting of materials for recycling and composting. 

The city is working on a single-hauler program, which would include recycling and make it more possible to monitor and tag contamination in recycling. Larger trash bins will be the incentive to recycle more.

Currently, according to the report, the recycle center is a very energy-efficient operation that bulks recycle material in the largest containers hauling up to 40 yards to the Materials Recovery Facility in Eagle County, the closest sorting facility. 

The annual Strawberry Days festival, on average, is at about 85% zero waste. According to the Glenwood Chamber, which organizes the event, it costs approximately $15,000 annually to make Strawberry Days a zero waste event.

Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at or 970-384-9131.

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