Aspen unveils ZGreen initiative |

Aspen unveils ZGreen initiative

Aspen Times Staff Report
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Aspen has unveiled its latest effort to go green ” identifying environmentally conscious places and events where locals and visitors can take their business.

The so-called ZGreen initiative is aimed at helping residents, businesses and visitors reduce their environmental impacts.

“What’s great about ZGreen is that it provides individuals and businesses with tangible ways to reduce their impact,” said Calla Ostrander in a city press release. Ostrander is a projects coordinator with the Canary Initiative, Aspen’s program aimed at addressing climate change.

The program formally certifies businesses and events that are actively engaged in sustainable practices, she said.

Citizen participants in the ZGreen program fill out an online questionnaire explaining what they are already doing to help the environment and then commit to five new actions to become official “ZGreen Citizens.” Businesses and events must complete a checklist of things they are already doing before being certified as “ZGreen.”

There are already five official ZGreen businesses in Aspen: Community Banks of Colorado, Bluegreen, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, the Aspen Skiing Co. and the Aspen Alps. Five other businesses currently are going through the application process.

So what’s the incentive to particiate? Efficiency gains experienced by green businesses can translate to a stronger bottom line, and being green is also a marketing opportunity to target a growing niche of both locals and visitors, according to the city.

“What ZGreen does for businesses is provide them with a brand to show people what they are doing,” explained Sarah Laverty, a projects coordinator with Aspen’s Environmental Health Department, in the press release. “It’s like calling something ‘natural’ and then more specifically calling something ‘organic.’ One label means something and the other is ambiguous. ZGreen means something.”

The Aspen Institute and National Geographic Magazine Aspen Environmental Forum this week is one of the first events in Aspen to be certified as a ZGreen Event. That means the event had to meet a series of standards and criteria, including reducing waste, recycling and composting onsite, and using 100 percent post-consumer paper for all printed materials. The forum is encouraging the use of public and alternative transportation and is training staff and volunteers on the importance of environmental stewardship, according to the city.

In addition, organizers also purchased city of Aspen Canary Tags to offset the remainder of the event’s carbon footprint. Canary Tags, which are the first municipal carbon offset program in the United States, each cost $20 and represent an offset of one ton of carbon dioxide, a so-called greenhouse gas, through renewable energy and carbon mitigation programs.

To find out more about ZGreen, or to become a ZGreen business, citizen or event, visit The first 200 individuals who sign up will receive a free gift bag.

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