1991: Declaring a war on energy waste

In celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Aspen Times, we are printing a story or two from each year the newspaper has existed – 125 historical selections in 125 days. This series is in conjunction with the Aspen Historical Society. Declaring a war on energy wasteBy Paul AndersenImproving quality of life, helping our environment and increasing security would be laudable goals on any political platform. That these goals dovetail with energy awareness has becoming the lesson of the ’90s. “Why do we need a plan? Why make this effort?” asks former Aspen mayor Bill Stirling. “It’s obvious. We want Aspen and Pitkin County to be models of energy efficiency, clean air, and to protect a quality of life for the future of the globe.” Energy Awareness Week, Monday through Thursday, Oct. 21-24, is dedicated to saving energy without pain or suffering but rather through efficiency – and even a little fun.Declared jointly by Aspen and Pitkin County, Energy Awareness Week will be a marshaling of local residents who care enough about their world and their pocketbooks to pause during their busy days and consider the energy they use.It is these local residents who will make a final decision on whether Aspen and Pitkin County set an example as a conscious, cohesive community that’s committed to energy efficiency. One of the battlefields of this war will be Aspen’s own City Hall, which, according to Public Works Director Bob Gish, will face an energy audit and retrofit to staunch the flow of wasted resources in the 100-year-old building.According to one energy expert, if Aspen could wean itself from wasteful energy use, the city could rely for all the electricity it needs on renewable hydroelectric power generated at the Ruedi Dam. That expert is Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who said this week that modest energy savings of 10 percent in Pitkin County could inject another $3.7 million into the local economy annually.Critical massVital to the success of any efficiency effort, explained Lovins Tuesday, is the support of the people in a community. And Energy Awareness Week, organized by a coalition that includes the Aspen Skiing Company and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, is a move in that direction.”The energy problem is not what somebody does in Washington,” said Lovins during a press conference at City Hall Tuesday to announce the event, “it’s the inefficient lights over our heads and the cracks around doors and windows. It’s all the things we pass by every day.”Spirit of cooperation”It is particularly nice,” said Aspen Mayor John Bennett, “that this is one more thing that the city and county are working together on.””This,” said Aspen councilwoman Rachel Richards, “embodies the type of ideas Aspenites have always been interested in. It is important that Aspen lead the way.”In a county where $37.5 million a year flows away from the community for energy costs, where every man, woman and child in the county pays out $3,800 for energy each year, where energy equals 10.8 percent of total personal income in the county and where energy costs are $12.7 million more than total wages and salaries paid in the county’s lodging industry, energy is an important part of the economic picture.”Your local economy is like a bathtub,” said Lovins. “Money keeps running out and you can either get a larger water heater or a plug. Energy efficiency is a very powerful plug, about the most powerful kind of economic development we know in a county that spends one-tenth of its payroll on energy.” (Oct. 17)Dreams become brick, mortar realityBy Madeleine OsbergerThe big, beautiful new Pitkin County Library held its grand opening celebration last Sunday, Sept 22.A crowd of several hundred waited patiently through nearly an hour’s worth of speeches before veteran library friends Mona Frost and Christine Eriksen Hart cut the official ribbon and hordes flocked inside to inspect the new surroundings. Volunteers who had sacrificed their free nights and weekends to help move and cross-reference the hundreds of thousands of volumes, mingled with other locals who oohed and aahed over the building’s grandeur. The proud library staff stood guard, taking it all in.State librarian Nancy Bolt said the citizens of Pitkin County helped “turn dreams into mortar and brick reality.””This is a building that belongs,” said Sam Caudill of the architectural firm Caudill, Gustafson and Ross. “It is not a monument to the architect.”But it is certainly something John Wheeler of Caudill’s firm can be proud of. Wheeler said the design was three years in the making, after a January 1988 approval allowed its go-ahead. Construction costs totalled about $3.1 million, with an additional $800,000 set aside for “FT&E”: furnishings, fixtures and equipment.Three-quarters of the actual building cost has been funded by federal monies, a mill levy, a loan and the anticipated sale of the present structure. (Sept. 26)


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