Letter: Make greening Aspen a ‘virtuous circle’ | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Make greening Aspen a ‘virtuous circle’

I went to the work session last night on Greening Aspen in the City Council Chambers. There was a lot of good but also a lot of same old, same old. I wanted to hear solutions, and a great deal of the presentation was a series of proofs that climate change exists. I got it, the City Council gets it, now move forward. How do we leverage our unique position as a nature lovers paradise, a hub of international powerbrokering and a vortex for the ultra wealthy? We have a start with leading by example with Canary and CORE, but it doesn’t begin to flex the muscles which are Aspen. Aspen doesn’t excel by doing what everyone else is doing — Aspen is what it is because we risk new ideas.

The biggest slice of the emissions pie is residences and rentals. Certainly Bert’s suggestion of embedding the building code with sustainable requirements helps but that is only a stick. I get 20 percent of my rentals because of a little green leaf logo from Clean Energy Collective. Property managers’ ears should prick up at that. Which would you rather have: $500 from the city of Aspen for being “green” or a 20 percent increase in revenue because of a green leaf logo? I’d love to double down on my green leafies with a green aspen leaf stamp from the city of Aspen for my CORE improvements. It costs the city nothing other than confirming CORE has worked with a property manger and designing a leaf logo.

We are “tracking” carbon emissions but not consistently. We track vehicular emissions by the number of cars and airplane emissions by the volume of fuel sold at the airport. We need better data — not all cars emit the same amount of carbon, not all airplanes are refueling for the roundtrip to Aspen. We need to be more specific — this would be a groundbreaking data management.

And speaking of data manipulation, we are not tracking carbon sequestration. Our trees, our grasses, every inch of good rich soil sequesters carbon. Our most valuable asset is the nature around us — cutting down the trees at Rubey Park increased our carbon emissions, dead grass in Wagner increases our carbon emissions, keeping Marolt green decreases our carbon emissions, bringing the sheep back to Aspen Mountain would decrease carbon emissions even more. This would take soil studies and that would be a game changer in the way carbon is measured and regulated. Aspen could lead in this area.

Then there is the dump. The conclusion was that methane capture was not economically viable at this time; but there was no mention supplementing heating with biofuels in place of natural gas. We also have a great opportunity to expand the extremely successful biochar reclamation efforts seen at the Hope Mine and Coal Creek, enhance our compost into biochar compost, reinvigorate our local farming and ranching culture and make carbon sequestration the yang to carbon emissions yin.

Make greening Aspen a “virtuous circle,” please.

Ziska Childs


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