Smith Hymes: How Avon is taking action on climate change | VailDaily.com

Smith Hymes: How Avon is taking action on climate change

Sarah Smith Hymes
Valley Voices

It is official: last month was the hottest July ever recorded on the planet. Climate warming is not news to most Coloradans. Our average winter snowfall has declined and includes more rain early and late in the season. Extreme weather events are more severe and more frequent. Flooding and wildfires are now common events.  

Here in Avon and around the state, our economy and quality of life are threatened. The proverbial “canary in the coal mine” is sweating profusely and cannot be ignored any longer. Real progress must be made in Colorado to reduce carbon pollution and protect communities across the state.

The good news is that 13 bills tackling carbon pollution were passed in Colorado’s 2019 legislative session, either as stand-alone bills or incorporated into other bills.

The impact? 

Rooftop solar will be more accessible to more people. Vehicles and power plants in Colorado will pollute less. Electricity users will be better protected from steep rate hikes. Colorado will have accountable carbon pollution goals. State agencies will strengthen standards for toxic air pollution from oil and gas drilling and will improve their tools for measuring carbon pollution. More information on these bills can be found at CC4CA.org

Here in Avon, we are doing our part as well. Avon adopted its first climate action plan in 2006 and is now committed to the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community.

The town pioneered an innovative heat recovery system that captures heat energy from wastewater effluent. The system has been heating the recreation center pools for years and was recently extended to the new town hall.

Avon has opted for renewable energy alternatives since Holy Cross Electric made them available a decade ago, most recently going 100% renewable through the PuRe program. Avon’s new town hall achieved LEED Gold certification for efficient energy use, street lights throughout Avon have been replaced with energy-efficient LED lights, and a plastic bag ban was instituted in May 2018. The Town is a member of Colorado Communities for Climate Action (CC4CA), whose advocacy played a major role in the passage of this year’s bills targeting carbon reduction.     

I am proud of what Avon has done, but there is a lot more to do. In collaboration with partner organizations like the Climate Action Plan for Eagle County and CC4CA, we are committed to protecting our environment and battling the climate change that threatens our economy and our way of life. 

Sarah Smith Hymes is the mayor of the town of Avon. Email her at shymes@avon.org.