New Eagle County Sustainable Communities Department to lead on climate, environment
September 22, 2017
EAGLE COUNTY — The Eagle County Commissioners have created a Sustainable Communities Department and named county Environmental Policy Planner Adam Palmer as the new director.
"Sustaining our way of life through the protection of the environment and climate has long been a county priority," said Commissioner Jill Ryan. "The creation of this department will enable the county to fully lead on these efforts."
The department, which is utilizing existing county staff and resources, will focus on climate action, environmental sustainability and forest health. Staff will target county operations through energy efficiency and waste-diversion activities as well as provide coordination and technical assistance for countywide sustainability and resiliency initiatives.
"Our primary focus areas include managing internal cost-saving measures through goals outlined in our Environmental Policy, as well as working with the community to implement the Climate Action Plan," Palmer said. "The impacts of a warmer climate are detrimental to winter recreation-based mountain communities like ours, and the time for transformative action is now."
Sustainable Communities will build on recent progress in reducing energy and fuel costs within county operations. Since 2012, investments in energy efficiency and solar energy have reduced electricity costs and emissions by 60 percent. Innovations and continued investments in fuel-efficient vehicles, LED lighting retrofits, improved control systems and solar photovoltaic systems will continue as the county looks to meet its internal operations goal of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs 50 percent by 2030.
The Sustainable Communities Department also will work with Walking Mountains Science Center to establish a Climate Action Collaborative to leverage the many stakeholder efforts and resources focusing on education, residential and commercial buildings, transportation, waste diversion and power supply.
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"Our biggest opportunity will be working with our community partners to meet the first Climate Action Plan goal of achieving a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025," said John Gitchell, environmental manager. "This will require a multifaceted community approach and structure."