Aspen's natural assets are closely guarded, and the community takes an aggressive stance against the threats of climate change. From civic to private and nonprofit sectors, there is a high level of advocacy and initiatives that make Aspen a leader in environmental stewardship.
Here is a summary of a list of the programs the City of Aspen is operating on renewable energy programs currently in place and future programs in development. For more information about the below topics, visit the City of Aspen website here.
- Hydroelectric Generation Facilities: The city of Aspen currently operates two hydroelectric plants at Ruedi Reservoir and Maroon Creek.
- Wind Power: The City of Aspen's Electric Utility purchases wind power from 7 wind turbines located in 3 states: South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. The Aspen Electric 100% renewable load is currently divided up as 46% hydroelectric, 53% wind power, 1% landfill gas.
- Solar: A solar thermal panel system is helping us meet our domestic hot water supply, and the water department has installed a solar voltaic system on the electric grid under the Solar Voltaic Project, reducing our community's carbon footprint by an estimated 9,215,000 lbs.
Other Municipal Environmental Initiatives:
Smart Use of Water
The city of Aspen has made improvements to the municipal water distribution system which has resulted in water-use levels similar to those existing in Aspen in the 1950s, all despite a dramatic increase in population. Efficiency is a priority as seen in the Aspen public golf course where 30 million gallons of water are saved each year thanks to a state-of-the-art irrigation system. In addition, water-saving technology is used in all 35 city parks.
Green Parks & Open Space
Aspen Parks Department manages approximately 1,300 acres of open space and 25 parks within and around the city in addition to supporting an active land acquisition program.
The city of Aspen's Recycling Ordinance requires recycling be part of basic trash service for all residential, multi-family and commercial customers, and was the first in Colorado to include the commercial sector. To encourage residents to recycle, the city has a "pay as you throw" policy, making the cost of a 64-gallon trash bin at least twice the cost of a 32-gallon trash bin.
Cleaner Air and Better Transportation
The city of Aspen operates eight shuttle routes providing free transit service to more than 1 million residents and visitors each year. The City also boasts a unique car-share program, offering residents a fleet of vehicles to rent for a small cost instead of owning a car. Most of the City's shuttle, transit and car-share vehicles use hybrid and biodiesel technology. The Rio Grande Trail, which connects Glenwood Springs to Aspen (41 miles!) offers alternative transportation for cyclists, pedestrians and inline skaters.
The city of Aspen helps commuters find carpool partners and provides free parking to qualifying carpools. Local employers are provided grants and other incentives when they establish alternative commuting programs.
In 2000, Aspen adopted the world's first mandatory program to levy a charge on excessive energy use. The Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP) has the goal of keeping three tons of carbon out of the air for every ton of excess carbon emitted from homes in Aspen.
The city strives to achieve the highest level of green building when it constructs affordable housing. By using innovative efficient building techniques, systems and materials, new affordable housing units consume 50 percent less energy than average buildings of similar size and function.
How can you help? Here are 5 quick things you can do on a daily-basis to help our environment:
- Use a refillable water bottle. The Ute Mountaineer has a great selection of reusable bottles to take on your next hike.
- Ride a bike or walk to town. WeCycle, our community-supported bike share program, has bikes accessible in town and offers free 30-minute rides.
- Recycle and help keep Aspen clean! If you see plastic bottles or garbage lying around, pick it up and toss it in one of our many bins found throughout Aspen.
- Switch to reusable bags for groceries. Our local grocers provide reusable bags for purchase at checkout.
- Share the knowledge! Share this list with a friend and help create a chain reaction to make our world a cleaner, better place.
Other ways our community is supporting a more sustainable environment: