What will Avon do for the Earth, next? | VailDaily.com

What will Avon do for the Earth, next?

Matt TerrellVail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Daily file photoAmong Avon's environmental initiatives are plans to make its popular recreation center more energy efficient, such as heating the pool with solar power.

AVON, Colorado After switching to 100 percent wind power and taking a large chunk off its carbon footprint, whats next for Avon, environmentally speaking?Last year, the town hired a consulting firm to pick apart the towns energy use, track its carbon emissions and recommend ways of reducing pollution. The town doesnt appear to be a monster polluter, according to the report, but theres still plenty of room for improvement.Buying wind power is a big step, for sure, but it doesnt actually lower how much energy the town is using. So, town leaders want to find more ways to conserve energy and shrink their contributions to global warming.For now, the town is looking to tackle small, simple things, like boosting recycling and upgrading the Recreation Center. Soon, theyll start seriously considering bigger projects, like adding solar panels to buildings or even adopting an expansive green building code.

Lets start with some of the easier stuff, which, in many cases, the town has already started doing.The town hopes to use computers and the Internet to reduce how much paper is needed to do business. They hope to incorporate more paperless, online forms that allow people to electronically file things like permits and time cards, said Jenny Strehler, director of public works.For instance, the town has already started posting requests for construction and design bids on its Web site, whereas it used to require mailing hundreds of photocopied pages to interested contractors a big waste of paper, Strehler said. The difficult and costly part to ditching all the paper will be finding more space for computer servers, and buying the technology.The town already recycles paper, cardboard, scrap metal and printer cartridges. Its transportation department buys recycled paper, recycled tires and recycles motor oil. But the town will find more ways to recycle and buy recycled goods, such as making sure recycling is a part of town events.The town has already bought one hybrid bus, and could possibly buy more.We have to ask, Is that hybrid upgrade worth it? Are you saving that much energy? Strehler said.Transportation managers are analyzing how well alternative fuels, like biodiesel, work in buses at high altitudes. Strehler said smaller buses that burn less fuel could also be a part of Avons future.The town also wants to train its drivers in how to drive with more fuel efficiency. Its hard to say how much such a program would change someones behavior but its worth a try, Strehler said.

After hearing the results of the energy audit, Mayor Ron Wolfe suggested starting Avons environmental overhaul with a big example the Avon Recreation Center. It has the largest carbon footprint in town, and its a highly used, popular building that many people visit.The town will start by upgrading things like the lighting system buying high-efficiency bulbs, occupancy sensors and even rewiring lights in the pool room so they dont all turn on together. Right now, theres a row of lights by windows that needlessly burn in the day when theres plenty of sunlight.Or, if they want to go big, which they may do in the future, they could install a solar system to hear the pool.Much of the towns environmental work cant really be seen yet. Its all in the planning stages of its new downtown.A big, overlying concept in Avons future downtown is creating a place where people walk and use public transportation as opposed to cars. The town wants to make it easier for people to live, work, eat and have fun all in the same area.Overall, theres been a big shift in how the town government is thinking all decisions are being made considering energy efficiency.Its part of our decision-making process for sure were evaluating everything for energy efficiency, conservation, lifecycle cost. Its a whole shift in town management, Strehler said.Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955, or mterrell@vaildaily.com.

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