Mountain Towns Summit aids Eagle with its net-zero game plan

In July 2021, the Eagle Town Council announced an ambitious goal of helping the greater Eagle community achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. More than a year since the resolution passed, town manager Larry Pardee, Jackie VanEyll, permit technician and Green Team lead, Council member Geoffrey Grimmer and Eagle Town Mayor Scott Turnipseed, among other stakeholders, attended the Mountain Towns 2030 Summit last week in Breckenridge to glean ideas to reach its net-zero goal. 

The motto “Go Green, Save Green” will continue to echo throughout Eagle up until the last day of 2022, which marks the end of the town’s Community Energy Efficiency Program. With this program, Walking Mountains Science Center provides home and business owners with energy assessments for $50. Additionally, projects that include solar, weatherization, safety or electrification updates can be eligible for rebates that recoup 60% of total costs. 

As the year, and simultaneously the Energy Efficiency Program ends, town leaders who attended the Mountain Towns 2030 Summit returned to Tuesday’s bimonthly council meeting with ideas about how Eagle can continue down the road of greater sustainability and getting closer to the net-zero emissions goal. 

The summit gathered representatives from ski resorts, businesses and sustainability teams. 

VanEyll returned from the Sept. 22 summit with a presentation on her proposed amendment of Ordinance 17, Series 2022, which allowed gas appliances, gas log fireplaces, pellet stoves and pellet boiler systems in Eagle homes. While the ordinance had been put in place to maintain air quality and provide heat efficiently, VanEyll explained what the ordinance failed to acknowledge and allow were masonry heaters

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Modern updates to masonry heaters’ age-old heat-storing technology make them efficient; one or two fires in a masonry heater can keep a home warm for 24 hours, VanEyll said during her presentation at Tuesday’s council meeting. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency noted that masonry heaters are “very efficient heaters and currently do not require EPA certification.”

“Masonry Heaters use directed air entry, high in the firebox and convoluted channels that circulate air inside,” VanEyll said. “These channels recycle gases and particles so that they are almost completely burned off.”

After Mayor Turnipseed motioned to approve masonry heaters and VanEyll’s proposed amendment was passed, council members joined in suggesting ideas for more ways the town can get closer to the 2030 net-zero carbon emissions goal.

Council member Ellen Bodenhemier called the council’s attention to Vail’s recent efforts investigating the potential to create legislation banning single-use plastics. She explained how taking similar steps could put Eagle closer to its goal. 

“One community did a 10-cent plastic bag fee and then they actually paid for a recycling manager,” Bodenhemier said. “So, there are a lot of ways to expand this program. It’s what we should probably do, I mean, we have this net-zero goal and should probably not just go with the bare minimum.”

Similarly, Turnipseed said he intends for the town to make headway with its net-zero goal this year, setting up a positive chain reaction for the eight years to go. 

“My goal is hopefully (The Mountain Towns 2030 Summit) will have us next year and we can say ‘here are some things that we’re implementing or starting to implement to reach our goal,’” Turnipseed said. 

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