Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Climate of Aspen

I went to the work session last night on Greening Aspen in the City Council Chambers. There was a lot of good but there was 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 and dire predictions for the future. 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 Syllian vortex for the ultra wealthy?  We have a start at 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… heart and soul.

Elizabeth and Walter Paepcke
our forward thinkers...

Starting with the biggest slice of the pie how do you get Residences and Rentals to reduce carbons emissions? Certainly Bert's suggestion of embedding the building code with sustainable requirements would help but that is only the stick. I get 20% of my rentals because of that little green leaf logo from Clean Energy Collective. That should have every Property Manager's ears prick up. A 20% increase because of a little green leaf logo. Which would you rather have $500 from the City of Aspen for being "green" or a 20% increase in revenues because of a little 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- and I bet I'm not the only one.  It costs the City nothing other than confirming CORE has worked with a Property Manger- and designing a leaf stamp.

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 than this- not all cars emit the same amount of carbon. Not all airplanes are refueling for the RT to Aspen alone.  We need to be more specific.   

And speaking of data manipulation…we are not tracking carbon sequestration. This is a big fail. Our trees, our grasses, every inch of good rich soil sequesters carbon. That is our most valuable asset- the nature around us- cutting down the trees at Ruby 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 of biofuels or supplementing heating with biofuels in place of natural gas. We 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….

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