New Castle group focuses on environment |

New Castle group focuses on environment

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE A group that is promoting environmental causes including energy efficiency in New Castle is bringing a high level of its own energy to its tasks.The New Castle Environmental Advisory Committee on Saturday is offering the Solar Home Open House & Educational Tour, which is part of the 12th annual National Solar Tour. It’s the latest in a string of activities and programs that the all-volunteer group has organized in little more than a year in existence.The group also put together an Earth Day Expo in April, worked in support of a Sierra Club initiative to get the town to sign on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, helped in the fight against the spread of weeds, promoted water conservation and protection measures, pushed to boost recycling and promoted green building measures.Now, many of the same people who belong to the group also are on a Climate Action Advisory Commission that will be working to help the town abide by commitments it made by signing on to the mayors agreement. One major project involves collecting baseline data on carbon dioxide emissions associated with town facilities.”I think the fact that there’s two of those committees just shows that there’s a lot of environmental interest in New Castle,” said Suzie Romig, communications liaison for the environmental advisory group.She described the origins of a group that now consists of about 15 people.”I guess just like-minded individuals kind of got together in my kitchen more than a year ago. And then we approached the mayor and he said, ‘Let’s go for it,'” Romig said.Mayor Frank Breslin said the town suggested to the group that it might be able to work more freely as an independent group, and not be bound by rules applying to town commissions, such as having to publish meeting schedules, keep minutes and have officers.But the groups members still are making major contributions to the town.”They’re picking up the tasks that our elected officials and staff would like to do but maybe don’t have the expertise and aren’t able to make a top priority. They’re doing a great job of carrying the ball on projects that we feel strongly about,” Breslin said.One of its first projects was to work in partnership with others to try to educate the public to help tackle what the group called “New Castle’s Nine Notorious Weeds.” The group also is working with subdivisions to get out information to new residents about weed control and recycling.The group worked with City Market to have the store accept corrugated cardboard from the public for recycling. In January, it hopes to kick off a recycling block captain program in which someone on each block would advocate and educate about recycling. Romig once served as a block captain for a similar program in Boulder.Another of the group’s members is Doug DeNio, a retired environmental and civil engineer who had specialized in renewable and solar energy and energy efficiency, and worked on National Park Service projects for 20 years. His home is one of two on today’s solar tours. DeNio’s home will provide an example of how things such as solar energy and energy efficiency can be incorporated into the construction of a new home. The residence of another group member, Dave Schroeder, will demonstrate what can be done in the case of an existing home.Many of the ideas that will be shared with the public will be simple things that can be incorporated easily into homes, if only people knew about them, Romig said.After Saturday’s solar tour, the group will be turning its ample energies to other tasks, including, soon enough, next year’s Earth Day Expo. Anyone is welcome to attend the group’s meetings, which generally are held the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at OZ, the Artists’ Studio, on Main Street in New Castle.

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