Conservation report looking sunny

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It should be a sunny spring for Golden, at least if the city’s sustainability plans are an accurate forecast.

A raft of municipal solar projects, a pilot program for downtown recycling, and a rededication to some challenging goals were among the elements of the Golden Sustainability Board’s 2012 annual report during the April 11 Golden City Council meeting.

The council met with members of the Community Sustainability Advisory Board (CSAB), including Golden’s Sustainability Manager Theresa Worsham, Chuck Baroch, Whitney Painter, Kurt Bendl, and Mark Campanelli.

The CSAB 2012 report included a scorecard on the city’s progress toward those sustainability goals. Five years into the 10-year period, the city has already achieved its goal for green building, and has also nearly reached goals for reducing solid waste, providing for alternative transportation, and water conservation.

“It’s just really impressive and from the report it looks like next year we’ll be making some good gains on electricity,” Mayor Marjorie Sloan said.

Painter said the group was excited to have a “fired up year,” in 2013.

Energy goals remain elusive for the city, according to the report, with only 10 percent of the city’s sustainability goals reached. The category was marked as CSAB’s highest priority for this year. Specifically, the city’s goals call for the entire city to cut energy usage by 20 percent, and increase the city’s energy supply portfolio to include 20 percent renewable sources. For city facilities, the goal is to reach 50 percent renewable energy consumption.

Worsham said a CSAB-developed comprehensive package of photovoltaic energy generation on several city buildings. Step one, hiring a firm to conduct an energy audit and feasibility study, will be requested at the council’s April 18 meeting.

“We’re excited. We’ve been wanting to see that,” Ward 4 Councilman Bill Fisher said.

Among other 2013 city actions to improve energy conservation will be the potential creation of a 500kW community solar garden in June.

“It’s difficult, finding land that doesn’t have a lot of possible development uses, but still works for our purposes, but we’ve narrowed it down to one or two sites that look pretty promising,” Worsham said.

Worsham said the city was working on a more innovative, and flexible business model for the solar garden, to allow businesses and city residents to more easily buy into the garden to take advantage of solar energy.

As part of the CSAB report, the group gave recommendations on updating the city’s sustainability goals, specifically those dealing with water and electricity, which do not look realistically achievable.

“We shouldn’t back down on the goals,” Painter said. “We should maybe just give ourselves more time, since we’re just now really getting started on some of these things.”

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