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Official joins battle vs. global warming

The world became a smaller place for Glenwood Springs City Council member Dan Richardson when he participated in a fellowship program in Europe earlier this year.His role in trying to protect it is growing bigger with his hiring as global warming project manager for the city of Aspen’s Canary Initiative.Starting in June, Richardson will work with the city on helping it reduce pollution emissions believed to contribute to global warming. He also will be involved in trying to encourage action on the issue at state, national and even global levels.”Maybe that sounds really grand, but it’s one step at a time,” Richardson said Thursday, following the city’s announcement of his hiring.He said he will be working on education, organizing conferences and creating a sustainability report for the city similar to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s report, which focuses on its environmental impacts and efforts to reduce them. He’ll also be taking his message to other communities and working with businesses and other organizations.The new job is a natural fit for Richardson, who holds a degree in environmental design in architecture and currently provides architectural consulting through a Glenwood Springs company he founded, Sustainable Designs Concepts Inc.Richardson said that business won’t continue, but he will keep volunteering with the Glenwood Springs Sustainable Cities Initiative, which he founded. The initiative involves a group of local residents who are focusing on green business practices and construction methods, and things individuals can do to improve the environment.While Richardson plans to continue volunteering on local boards and commissions, he won’t be seeking re-election to City Council in November. He decided midway through his four-year first term on council that he wouldn’t run again. He said the job is “extremely time-consuming,” and he wants to spend more time with his family, and on issues that are the highest priorities for him.With his new job, the 1990 Glenwood Springs High School graduate also eventually may want to move somewhere upvalley. His wife teaches at the Waldorf School, outside Carbondale, and they plan to enroll their 2-year-old son there when he’s old enough.When Richardson leaves City Council, he’ll also have to step down as chairman of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board. He credits his time on the RFTA board for getting him interested in “the bigger picture,” and in setting policy that affects things on a larger scale.Richardson already had been trying to do that through his business. “I was wanting something bigger. … That message definitely hit home when I was in Europe and basically all I was doing was talking about policy,” he said.As a recipient of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, he met with policymakers, lobbyists, utility providers and industry professionals in several countries, and discussed topics including climate change.When he heard of the job opening in Aspen immediately upon his return home, he jumped at the opportunity to apply for it.While the goals of the Canary Initiative are ambitious, Richardson believes much can be accomplished. Cities are huge consumers, and probably generate sizable volumes of emissions, he said.”I think any city is on track if they embrace an initiative like this,” he said.Aspen has much to gain in trying to fight global warming, considering the threat it poses to the city’s ski industry. And its influence is so broad that Richardson is excited about what he might be able to accomplish.But he hopes to see Glenwood Springs take on a similar initiative as well. And he wants the federal government to start taking global warming more seriously. Richardson was encouraged by General Electric’s recent promise to invest in greenhouse gas reductions.As an upvalley commuter, Richardson plans to lead by example by taking the bus rather than driving to work. He’ll also work at home some, or from a downvalley location, he said.He also hopes to continue to volunteer on local boards and commissions.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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