Aspen seeks fire hearth redesign |

Aspen seeks fire hearth redesign

ASPEN ” Have a burning desire to help fight global warming?

The city of Aspen is looking to energize the town’s thinkers with a $500 cash prize to the individual who comes up with the best idea to tweak the resort’s downtown fire hearth so it operates in more environmentally friendly fashion. Along with cash, the winner will receive a $500 gift certificate toward the purchase of an energy-efficient home appliance.

Details of the contest were announced Wednesday, following City Council approval Tuesday of the Canary Action Plan ” a series of measures to decrease the city’s carbon emissions. The goal is cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent of 2004 levels by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050.

The hearth has been a sticking point in the debate over whether the city is serious about its intentions to reduce the town’s contribution to climate change and serve as an example that other communities might follow. The hearth, fueled by natural gas, was built to enhance the downtown pedestrian experience, fulfilling one city goal at the expense of another.

The contest challenges participants to come up with a new source of energy for the hearth. A successful design must emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the existing hearth, continue to provide a “quality experience,” reflect Aspen’s community values of environmental leadership and be easy to maintain.

The winning design will be chosen by a panel of local energy experts and city staffers by Aug. 24. This design will serve as an example of a low-emissions alternative to conventionally fueled, decorative fireplaces or hearths in Aspen.

Applicants should submit their proposals by July 27 to Calla Ostrander, Canary Initiative facilitator. She can be reached at or (970) 429-1831.

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