EAGLE COUNTY — Eagle County is putting its commitment to the environment in writing but has no plans to print it. A policy recently adopted by the board of commissioners targets significant cuts to county energy use and promotes sustainable practices at all levels of the organization.
Eagle County’s “15 by ’15” policy outlines a 15 percent reduction in spending on energy, fuels, water and paper by 2015. It also supports increased recycling, adoption of renewable energy sources and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The policy is an offshoot of the countywide Actively Green campaign.
The initiative will result in ongoing decreases to county expenses that currently total more than $2 million each year on things such as heating, cooling and lighting buildings; landscape irrigation; and the operation of approximately 300 vehicles and pieces of heavy equipment. A 15 percent reduction equates to about $300,000 annually.
“This is a policy whose time has come,” said commissioner Sara Fisher. “It’s a prudent move that will result in better environmental and fiscal stewardship for Eagle County.”
The initial phase of the “15 by ’15” program will be focused on the largest fuel and energy users in county government, including the Eagle County Building and surrounding campus, the Eagle County Regional Airport terminal building, the Eagle County Justice Center and ECO Transit. The energy expense reduction will be phased, with a target of 5 percent savings per year.
John Gitchell, Energy Smart’s program administrator, says an important aspect to the success of the initiative will be measuring and quantifying the savings.
“Any changes to county facilities or equipment will require careful study,” Gitchell said. “Much of the savings will come from education and awareness, as well as individual actions.”
The majority of this year’s work involves monitoring energy use in buildings and vehicles, and making small changes that have an immediate impact.
To measure results, Eagle County buildings and transit buses are being outfitted with “data loggers” that track fuel and power use in real time. Future projects under consideration include efficient lighting upgrades at the airport terminal, new solar arrays at county facilities and installation of mini-hybrid cooling systems in transit buses to help reduce fuel use.
Commissioner Jill Ryan hopes the “15 by ’15” policy will inspire residents, businesses and other organizations to adopt their own Actively Green goals.
To view the “15 by ‘15” resolution and policy statement, visit www.eaglecounty.us.