Crested Butte vies with Aspen for greenest moves
CRESTED BUTTE — After a year-long survey of residents, a search for “the soul of Crested Butte” has led this end-of-the-road mountain town to be the first municipality in Colorado to become all-electric.
“This is buying into our community values,” Crested Butte Town Manager Dara MacDonald said. “I mean you are coming here for here, right? Well this is what ‘here’ is. I think as mountain towns, we have not held to our principles quite strongly enough in some cases. This is holding to our values.”
Crested Butte joins Aspen with an overhaul of building codes focused on reducing the busy mountain towns’ contributions to a changing climate. With mandates to turn away from burning fossil fuels in homes, the mountain communities are pushing beyond what is required and hoping to become models for how larger cities can transform residential impacts on climate change.
Crested Butte’s first comprehensive plan, called the Community Compass, was assembled over many public meetings and approved last year. It is a sort of manifesto of community values that calls for urgency in the fight to thwart a warming climate.
The town’s 2019 climate action plan set the stage for all-electric new construction, starting with town-owed affordable housing projects. So when the town updated its building codes last year, the town council approved a plan “to go above and beyond,” Crested Butte planner Mel Yemma said.
This year Crested Butte became the first municipality in Colorado to require all new homes and commercial construction be powered by electricity, with no natural gas for heating, hot water or appliances.
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