The city of Aspen is seven years ahead of its goal to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 percent for government operations.
The 2020 goal was set forth in the city’s Canary Initiative, which also aims for an 80 percent reduction by 2050. An annual audit showed that electricity, natural-gas and transportation-fuel emissions associated with city operations were reduced by 30.7 percent between 2004 and 2013. Officials made the announcement Wednesday at Aspen City Hall.
“We obviously have a long way to go, but we are in a leading pool of cities that have accomplished (their goals),” said Ashley Perl, director of the Canary Initiative, which launched in 2005. “A lot of people are working towards it but aren’t even close, so we’re really happy we’ve gotten this far.”
She said that the more important goal is to reduce emissions in the community at large, not just government. Since 2004, emissions in Aspen as a whole have decreased by 6 percent. In order to reach its 30 percent reduction goal, the community will need to reduce 22,117 tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is the equivalent of taking 25,074 cars off the road over the next six years.
Perl said about 50 percent of the Canary Initiative’s efforts are spent on the community’s goal. In addition to offering energy-efficiency rebate programs to commercial and residential customers, the city works with Holy Cross Energy and Aspen Electric to find as many renewable-energy sources as possible, she said. The bus rapid-transit system and bike programs like WE-Cycle are critical to getting cars off the road, she said.
Mayor Steve Skadron said he was excited to see one of the city’s outlined goals coming to fruition.
“I’m hopeful that the steps the city has taken will serve as a workable model for other communities,” Skadron said.
According to numbers for 2013, electricity makes up 55.2 percent of city government emissions. Natural gas represents 29.1 percent, while gasoline and diesel represent 8.8 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.
Jeff Rice, Aspen’s utility efficiency manager, said the city’s commercial and residential offerings reduce consumption but also increase savings. His office — which has partnered with the Community Office for Resource Efficiency — installs lighting retrofits, thermostat controls, HVAC tuneups, boiler upgrades and insulation equipment.
Perl said these are the obvious measures for increasing energy efficiency. For the future, Canary will look at the larger emitters like the Police Department, the Street Department and government buildings like City Hall.
“We have some pretty big users, so we’re going to work closely with those departments to make sure that they’re doing all they can,” Perl said.
Because the goal was reached seven years ahead of time, she said her office will be looking to set interim goals for between now and 2050.