The Adam Palmer Sustainability Fund launches in Eagle
New fund will finance sustainability initiatives to help the town achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030
EAGLE — After a year of development, the Adam Palmer Sustainability Fund officially launched on March 7 with an event at Mauka Poke Bar in Eagle.
The new community fund will distribute grants and loans to support sustainability initiatives in the town of Eagle and help meet the town’s stated goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. Starting this summer, community members, business developers, entrepreneurs and visionaries of all types will be invited to apply for funding for projects that reduce carbon emissions, conserve resources and contribute to the environmental longevity of the town.
The fund was created to honor the legacy of the late Adam Palmer. Palmer was a leader in sustainability initiatives in Eagle, and spearheaded a variety of environmentally conscious efforts through his work as a planner and director of sustainable communities with Eagle County government, in addition to his roles on a number of community boards and as a Town Council member. At the launch event for the fund, attendees were able to name almost a dozen local environmental groups and initiatives that Palmer had a hand in during his lifetime.
Laura Hartman, the former director of operations of the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, is taking on the role of director for the Adam Palmer Sustainability Fund.
“It gives us all the opportunity to live out Adam’s legacy,” Hartman said. “Adam loved this community, and he continuously strove to create the world he wanted to live in and the world he wanted his daughters to live in. So I think that this fund gives us the opportunity to live like that — to engage, to take a tough look at problems, to take action, to come together, to have fun and to build the community that we want to live in.”
Moving towards net-zero carbon emissions
The fund will be managed by a five-member board with representation from different areas of expertise in the sector. The board members are Kristen Hartel, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) reviewer for Green Business Certification Inc.; John Widerman, a loan officer at FirstBank and the former mayor of Minturn; John Gitchell, the sustainability coordinator for Eagle County; Luke Cartin, the environmental sustainability manager for Park City, Utah; and Geoff Grimmer, a Town Council member and founder of Zealous Schools, who will chair the board. Palmer’s wife, Kalie Palmer, will serve as an advisor to the board.
The board will consider loan and grant applications and will serve as the decision-making body of the fund. Grimmer said that board members will be looking for projects that draw down carbon, promise a high return on investment, and demonstrate feasibility.
“We set some pretty aggressive net-zero goals, and now we’re working on the more tangible side of how do we actually get to that as a town,” Grimmer said. “What keeps me really, really pumped about it is, like, it’s not will this work — it’s that it has to work. It has to work. So it’s a different level of confidence than, will it work? This is the long-term sustainability not just of our environment but of our economy, of all the things we love about Eagle, and of all the things we love about Eagle County.”
The Adam Palmer Sustainability Fund is joining a larger effort that is being led by the town government. Scott Turnipseed, the mayor of Eagle, spoke at the fund’s launch to highlight the steps that the town has already taken since announcing its net-zero goal last July.
The 2022 budget currently includes $50,000 for a baseline assessment, $235,000 for new electronic vehicle charging stations, and $290,000 for electric patrol cars and trucks as they become available. In addition, the town is looking to hire a sustainability director and is planning to build a large solar array to offset the high electrical use at local water treatment plants.
“In the first year, we’ve put half a million dollars aside for sustainability, which went from zero to a half a million in one year, so I just see that continuing at the town of Eagle,” Turnipseed said. “I’m very excited to have this part of it, too, to help us out and be a little more hands-on, community-driven, and not with the red tape of the government.”
Holy Cross Energy and Walking Mountains Science Center are also active partners in meeting the town’s sustainability goals, and will be supporting the efforts of the fund as it moves forward.
The triple bottom line
The Adam Palmer Sustainability Fund is currently raising money from the community to help reach its fundraising goal of $180,000 by June 1. Hartman said that they have adopted the model of a green revolving fund, where low-interest loans fund projects that have long-term cost-saving benefits which then free up finances to be reinvested into the fund. In this way, the fund will be largely self-sustaining over time.
“We want to look at that triple bottom line of sustainability, so a healthy and regenerating environment, dignity for people and then financial sustainability as well,” Hartman said. “The idea is that we keep operating costs low over time, and most donations just go to these projects, and they then renew that fund over time so that it would be very sustainable.”
Fifty-one percent or more of the fund will also be allocated to minority-owned, women-owned, rural and income-qualified entities to ensure an approach consistent with environmental justice.
“We understand that vulnerable populations and those populations that have traditionally been left out of seats of power or traditional forms of wealth, communities of color — all of these populations will be disproportionately impacted by climate change,” Hartman said. “They will suffer first and they will suffer the most, and we want to be very cognizant of that environmental justice perspective as we do our work.”
Community donations to the fund are now being accepted at APSFund.org. Hartman said that organization plans to do its first distribution later this summer, and more information about funding opportunities and the application process will be made available in the coming months. In the meantime, Hartman invites anyone with further questions and inquiries to reach out to email@example.com.
Read the shirt
Palmer’s wife, Kalie Palmer, brought a large stack of T-shirts to launch the fund in her husband’s honor. Adam Palmer was a big fan of statement shirts, and Kalie felt that his collection of tees summarized both his approach to life and his approach to sustainability.
“If Adam was going to tell us how to move this fund forward, or how do we make sustainability happen in the town of Eagle, he’d probably just say, ‘Dude — just look at the shirt, bro’,” Kalie Palmer said.
One by one, she held up shirts emblazoned with with the words “Eagle is awesome, so let’s keep it real,” “Every hand makes a difference,” “Eagle River Cleanup 2013” and “I’m a proud dad of a freakin awesome daughter,” among others from past events in the valley and emblems of his many outdoor hobbies.
She talked about how looking through the photos on his phone, she was reminded of just how central the cause of environmental sustainability was to Adam’s life.
“Obviously a lot of friends and family shots, tons of bike trails, ocean and surfing pics, awesome ski days — but it was also really full of all these photos of e-bike fleets, e-scooters, electrical vehicle charging stations, solar panels, and other cool stuff,” Kalie Palmer said. “He just loved seeing how communities could make an impact, and lessen the impact on the planet.”
Adam Palmer worked hard to get the town of Eagle moving in the right direction, and now his legacy fund will enable the community to continue the effort in his honor. Kalie Palmer said that like many things Adam enjoyed, tackling environmental issues is not easy, but it’s the uphill battles that are the most satisfying to conquer.
“Don’t be afraid to try difficult things,” Kalie Palmer said. “In the end, when you do something difficult, it’s worth it.”
To donate to the Adam Palmer Sustainability Fund and learn more information about the mission, visit APSFund.org.