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Can Vail be greener than Aspen?

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VAIL ” Liz Leeds moved to Vail to live in the clean air of the mountains. She says she found that pristine environment here ” and wants it to stay that way.

“Anything we can do to preserve it is good,” said Leeds, a Vail resident.

So if Vail is trying to cut back on energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions, that’s great, she said.



Leeds supports the town of Vail’s recent efforts to get more green. The town has enlisted Dan Richardson, who formerly directed the city of Aspen’s global warming program, to help the town draft green plans.

One prong of the effort is a green-building plan that would either require or encourage builders to use environmentally friendly techniques.

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That could include things like using recycled materials, using energy efficient lighting or using renewable energy. Richardson has prepared a report detailing how other communities ” including Aspen ” have instituted green codes.

“We want to know what’s a good definition of green building,” he said

Lots of green techniques are planned ” voluntarily ” for Vail Resorts’ $1 billion green village called Ever Vail. The project, supposed to be completed in 2013, will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, neighborhood certification.



Vail Resorts said they’ll use snowmelt in toilets and tiny rotors in Gore Creek to power streetlights as part of their green techniques.

The Town Council will have to decide how strict the code would be. On the rigorous end of the spectrum, the rules could be as strict as the LEED guidelines.

Bill Carlson, Vail’s environmental health officer, said he’d like to see the town adopt something similar to the county’s less-strict EcoBuild program.

“I think EcoBuild, to me, would fit at least as a start,” Carlson said.

In that program, builders have to accumulate a certain number of points by doing things like using little or no irrigation, locating a home close to transportation or using recycled materials.

Mark Gordon, a Vail councilman, said he’ll push for a comprehensive plan, perhaps using incentives that would grant extra density or lower building fees. He’d like to see Vail’s plan go further than what exists in other communities, he said.

“We can far surpass what, in reality, Aspen has,” he said.

The second prong of the plan is an energy plan that will look at how the town consumes energy and burns greenhouse gases ” and set a goal for reducing those amounts.

That could include using energy-efficient light bulbs at Town Hall or the fire station, or it could mean encouraging carpooling for town employees.

Whether it’s new light bulbs or special boilers, some of the green equipment costs more, but saves money on energy costs in the long run, Richardson said.

“Those kind of changes aren’t very sexy but can have a lot of impact on the town’s energy use,” Richardson said.

Carlson and Gordon both said the town is responding to residents who attended Vail’s 20/20 community meetings last year. In that meeting, environmental stewardship emerged as an issue that was a priority for residents.

“It’s listening to the constituents,” Gordon said.

The green plans will likely head to the Town Council in the new year, after the election in which five open seats will be filled.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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