Avon pledges $40K for Walking Mountains’ energy efficiency programs | VailDaily.com

Avon pledges $40K for Walking Mountains’ energy efficiency programs

The contribution will allow Walking Mountains to create new incentives and expand its marketing efforts in the town

Energy Smart home energy assessments are just one of the programs that Walking Mountains runs through its energy AND buildings program.
Joe Kusumoto/Walking Mountains

The town of Avon pledged $40,000 to help Walking Mountains Science Center’s energy and buildings program reach more households and businesses in the town.

At Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, Nikki Maline, Walking Mountains’ energy programs director, presented on the success of its energy efficiency programs in Avon. These programs include home building assessments, business energy walkthroughs, energy coaching and assistance, educational materials, and training as well as providing rebates for weatherization, electrification, HVAC upgrades and more.

“The Energy and Buildings team works with all staff in the Sustainability Programs department at Walking Mountains to act as an agent of change to achieve local climate action goals and improve the social, economic and environmental resilience of the Eagle County community. We serve as a resource and education hub to inspire action from local to global,” wrote Maline in an email to the Vail Daily.

Specifically, for local homes and businesses, the program focuses on being a “local building science resource,” for things like “improving energy efficiency, implementing renewable energy and making indoor spaces safe through building upgrades and services,” she wrote.

In her 2021 report to council, Maline said that its home energy assessments, residential rebates, and business and multi-family rebates in Avon have led to a reduction of 116.53 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. This is the equivalent of 1,927 tree seedlings grown for two years or the same as greenhouse gas emissions for over 25 cars driven for one year.

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Additionally, Maline reported a total of $222,546 in economic stimulus as a result of these programs or “money that is put back out through projects and paying people that are local to do home energy assessments,” she said.

The majority of its home assessments were conducted and the rebates given to homes in Wildridge. The businesses that received assessments and rebates were located on Benchmark Road and Metcalf Road.

Increasing its contribution

In the past, according to Maline’s presentation, Avon has contributed $12,000 to the program for the past three years.

In 2021, so far, Maline said that Walking Mountains has used $27,039 of the program funds to run energy assessments and make rebate payments in the town of Avon, not including costs for staff time for administration and energy coaching.

At the meeting, Maline challenged the town to increase its contribution, matching the contributions of other local municipalities

“We are currently getting a larger amount, my requested amount there, from other municipalities locally,” she said, adding that this would allow for additional perks for the Avon community, “things that only people who are town of Avon businesses or residents could get because you are providing us with more incentives funds.”

Maline said that its other local contributors include the town of Vail, which for the last four years has given the program $40,000; Edwards Metro-District, which has verbally committed to $40,000 next year; the town of Eagle, for which no amount was disclosed at the meeting; and Eagle County, which she said “contributes a lot.”

She added that the amount of the town’s funding does not affect the amount of services provided to the town of Avon, but instead allows the Walking Mountains team to create special incentives like double or stacked rebates and free assessments as well as expanded marketing efforts in the town, “to try to get more people locally to act.”

“We will provide audits to anybody in Eagle County. The money you would be providing extra — above and beyond what you normally provide — we would focus that in your community. We’d be trying to do some special incentives here and some targeted money here, specifically with that money,” Maline said. “We continue to help everybody all over Eagle County.”

Town Manager Eric Heil noted that the town is projecting to have $100,000 in its energy-offset fund by the end of the year. The energy-offset fund, he said, relies on fees collected from residents that build or add heated driveways, outdoor pools and hot tubs and any outdoor additions that use energy.

Increasing the town’s contribution to Walking Mountains, specifically for these programs, Heil said was a “great way to spend those monies to accomplish the purpose of that energy offset.”

He did note that this doesn’t mean the town will be either able to or obliged to provide this same amount in future years.

Town Council members all agreed — via a round of head nods — to increase its contribution at Tuesday’s meeting. Rather than make a formal motion or vote, the contribution will be reflected in its 2022 budget. The town is in the process of finalizing its budget for 2022, and this verbal pledge from Town Council is expected to show up in the budget’s next review on Nov. 16.

2021 Walking Mountains Energy Program in Avon

The home energy assessment includes a comprehensive inspection of all thermalspaces, insulation and mechanical systems by a certified building analyst.| Joe Kusumoto, Walking Mountains/Courtesy Photo

2021 Avon Home Energy Assessments (to date)

• 17 home energy assessments

• 15 homes received “quick-fix measures” on site, estimated to save these homes a collective $807.66 in utility costs. These fixes include swapping existing lights for LED lights, hot water heater blankets and programmable thermostats.

• 5.5 metric-tons of CO2 reduced annually, estimated

2021 Residential Rebates (to date)

• 14 residential rebates given for improvements and upgrades of heating, solar panels, radon mitigation, air-sealing and more

• An estimated $5,581 saved in collective utility costs as a result of these upgrades and improvements

• 39.62 metric-tons of CO2 reduced annually, estimated

• Approximately $5,800 in rebate funds provided

Business and Multifamily Rebates (to date)

• 5 businesses and multifamily buildings received free energy walkthroughs

• 4 commercial rebates provided for improvements and updates to LED lighting, heating, air sealing and insulation

• An estimated $8,217 saved in collective utility costs to Avon businesses as a result of these upgrades and improvements

• 71.37 metric-tons of CO2 reduced annually, estimated

• Approximately $8,000 in rebate funds provided

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