Pitkin County to hire energy manager | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County to hire energy manager

ASPEN ” Pitkin County plans to go even more green in the New Year.

The government will hire an energy manager as soon as possible in 2008 to help it improve on efficiency issues, according to Brian Pettet, director of public works. The energy czar will do everything from help buy the most energy efficient vehicles possible for the county fleet to seek ways to improve the efficiency of new and existing government buildings. The energy manager also will be available to advise other staff members on energy efficiency provisions of the county building code.

“What we’re really trying to do is become a government agency that’s a model for energy efficiency,” Pettet said.

Energy efficiency already is a priority for the county, he said, but sometimes the issue “gets lost in the minutia” of everyday duties. An energy manager would track efficiency issues full time and would report to Pettet.

One big component of the job will be making sure any new governmental buildings constructed by Pitkin County are as efficient as possible, Pettet said. He also noted that there may be more efficient ways of getting employees to work since 78 percent of them commute from Basalt and points farther downvalley.

The position was made possible through a $100,000 grant from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency, which was established by Pitkin County and the city of Aspen. CORE, as the office is known, raises funds through a fee on construction of new homes that exceed an allowed energy budget. Revenues raised through that program are plowed back into energy efficiency projects throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

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The city of Aspen already has extensive efforts under way to reduce the energy consumption of its governmental departments. As part of its Canary Initiative, it assessed the carbon dioxide emissions of the municipal government as well as the community as a whole. Now each department is implementing steps to reduce its carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming.

Pitkin County’s hiring of an energy manager isn’t a case of canary envy. The new staff member will look pragmatic, in-house steps rather than propose broad-based policy for county citizens, said Pettet and County Manager Hilary Smith.

Smith said the county already imposes energy efficiency standards through its building code. Now it is time for the government to look at its own operations and facilities to determine how to become more efficient.

The county will officially start the process to fill the position in January, but word-of-mouth already has spurred interest, she said. While the grant is for one year, Pettet said he fully expects the energy manager to be an on-going position. The position will pay for itself through savings and likely lead to the receipt of additional grants, Pettet said. The county commissioners will ultimately decide if the position is retained.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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