Aspen CORE: Despite progress, more work needed, faster on reducing carbon emissions
The Aspen Times
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Detailed reports are available on the greenhouse gas emissions by Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt and Pitkin County. Aspen performs its own study; the Community Officer for Resource Efficiency helps with reports for the other governments. They are all available at www.aspencore.org/community.
“The findings tell a common story: There is some progress being made on climate goals, but much more work to be done for communities to achieve their greenhouse gas-reduction targets,” CORE said.
Despite making progress in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, Aspen and others governments in the Roaring Fork Valley must work harder and faster to achieve their goals, according to an energy efficiency expert.
Mona Newton, executive director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, said Monday the upper valley governments have reduced their carbon emissions between 2% and 14% compared with 2014 levels.
“We’re making gains. Overall emissions are down, but we’re not doing enough fast enough,” Newton said.
CORE used the occasion of National Energy Efficiency Day on Monday to issue a statement titled “Carbon-emissions Reports Show Upper Valley Needs to Work Harder and Faster to Reach Climate Goals.”
When asked if the outlook is half full or half empty, Newton said she doesn’t look at it that way. Instead, she takes the pragmatic view that more needs to be done.
“We need to step on the gas and do a lot more,” she said.
Aspen is the perfect example of what she means. The city has been a leader in the field of cutting emissions since 2004. One of its biggest moves was achieving 100% renewable energy with its utility. Nevertheless, it won’t achieve its goal of cutting emissions by 30% by 2020. So far, Aspen has achieved a 20.5% reduction rate.
Aspen’s next goal is an 80% reduction by 2050 compared with the 2004 baseline.
Snowmass Village set a goal in 2009 of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. It had already achieved a 17% curtailment by 2017 and appears on its way of meeting the goal, according to CORE.
Basalt first measured its greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 and achieved a 2% reduction through 2017. Its goal is a 25% reduction by 2025, so it’s got its work cut out.
The goals were reached despite an increase in the local population and growth in tourism. Newton said the growth makes it tougher to achieve reductions in emissions, so it shows how hard the local entities are working to accomplish emission cuts.
CORE said the progress is due to five main factors: tougher building codes, more efficient use of energy in buildings, an increase in the amount of renewable electricity used by local utilities, effective public transit, and impactful composting and reuse programs.
The largest share of emissions is from energy used in buildings. That accounts for about 63% of the combined emissions in Basalt and the upper valley.
The efforts by Holy Cross Energy to increase the amount of clean and renewable energy sources in its portfolio and Aspen Electric’s achievement of going 100% renewable energy has created the biggest decrease in emissions in the upper valley. However, a cleaner grid alone isn’t enough to reach climate goals, Newton said.
“We can’t rely on 100% (renewable energy sources),” Newton said. “Emissions come from a variety of sources.”
The sources include ground transportation, air travel and waste. The Roaring Fork Valley is making progress in those areas, Newton said. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, for example, is adding electric buses to its fleet and continually working to reduce travel in private vehicles.
Newton said CORE hopes to use the information from the latest emissions reports to spur regional collaboration on meeting emissions reduction.
“Together we can do more and more faster,” she said.
Individuals can play an important role in the effort. CORE offers energy assessments for residences or business. The reports outline steps that can be taken to increase energy efficiency.
Customers of Holy Cross Energy can sign up for the utility’s Purchase Renewable Energy program.
Visit http://www.aspencore.org for more information on what’s possible.
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