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Vail and Eagle County selected for sustainability program by UC Denver

Kristen Bertuglia, Town of Vail, 970-477-3455
Tori Franks, Eagle County, 970-328-8775
Caitlin Jenney, University of Colorado Denver, 303-315-6376

The Town of Vail and Eagle County are among five areas in Colorado to receive a matching grant to inventory energy use and to prioritize future sustainability actions to drive economic and environmental benefits. The $30,000 in total grants comes from the Walmart Foundation in partnership with the University of Colorado Denver Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Systems and the Colorado Municipal League. Vail and Eagle County will each receive a $6,000 grant, with matching funds provided by each entity.

The grant will be used for community-wide energy analysis, carbon footprint measurement and sustainable energy benchmarks for Vail, all unincorporated areas of Eagle County, and the incorporated areas where utility data such as water, sewer and electricity overlap.  The grant will also provide future scenario models and recommended actions. The work will be coordinated locally by Kristen Bertuglia, Vail’s environmental sustainability coordinator and by Tori Franks of Eagle County’s Energy Resource Center.

In addition to Vail and Eagle County, other communities participating in the year-long program are Montrose, Lakewood, Ouray and San Miguel County. "In order to set goals and prioritize energy saving opportunities for our community in the future, we first need to benchmark where we are now," said Franks.

The project builds upon the university’s research and outreach conducted over the last five years with other Colorado cities including Denver, Broomfield, Arvada, Aurora, Central City and Durango and the previous round of communities: Eagle, Dillon, Steamboat Springs, Routt County and Golden. Feedback from previous participants has indicated substantial benefits in showing communities where to refocus their efforts and the substantial payoffs, both environmental and monetary that can be gained, according to Bertuglia. “This grant provides a great opportunity to look at our collective carbon footprint, break it down by sector, and invest funds in projects that will give us the biggest bang for our environmental improvement buck,” Bertuglia said.

Next steps include several months of data gathering and evaluation for building and outdoor energy use, guest travel data including mileage attributed to flights and vehicle travel, followed by a final report and community workshop.