Avon active on energy | VailDaily.com

Avon active on energy

Vail Daily Editorial Board

While we may have poked fun at the name “Main Street” in these pages in the past, we have nothing but praise for Avon’s efforts to melt snow downtown in an environmentally friendly way.

Avon is creating a new downtown around Town Hall. After struggling with the traditionally less than eco-sensitive concept of snowmelt, the Town Council hit on what potentially could be a groundbreaking method of heating its streets ” it plans to use excess heat generated by the Eagle River Water and Sanitation’s wastewater treatment plant.

It takes a lot of energy to treat water and solid waste, and there’s a lot of heat that’s generated but not reused. By capturing this heat and transferring it to a chemical mixture that would be pumped to downtown Avon beneath the streets, the sidewalks could be ice-free and safer without nearly as much pollution.

This system would preclude the use of gas-fired boilers, which dump tons of carbon dioxide into that sky we here in ski country rely being cold and bright blue. Avon also says the snowmelt would be boosted by a solar-thermal system, which heats water using the sun.

Avon’s plan seems like a perfect way to balance an upscale resort town’s need to make tourists as comfortable as possible with a Rocky Mountain resort town’s need to keep its scenery as spectacular as possible. Avon’s efforts also are more proof the local and county levels are where the real governmental action is taking place on climate change.

Hopefully, the actions of smaller governments like Avon and Eagle County will cause citizens to demand more of larger, more powerful and potentially far more influential agencies. For the time being, though, local is leading the way.

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