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Green Aspen

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. 
Building Greener
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:
  1. Use a refillable water bottle. The Ute Mountaineer has a great selection of reusable bottles to take on your next hike.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Switch to reusable bags for groceries. Our local grocers provide reusable bags for purchase at checkout.
  5. 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:

Through its "Save Snow" campaign, the Aspen Skiing Co. is bringing global awareness to climate change and its threat to snowfall in alpine regions.

In its efforts to "Save Snow," the Aspen Skiing Company achieved ISO-certification as a "green" company, the first of only two ski resorts in the country to achieve this recognition. Aspen Skiing Co. also made the first wind power purchase in the U.S. ski industry, (and still spends $25,000 annually on this direct wind power). It became the first large ski resort to buy renewable wind power credits from 2006 to 2008, and has developed new renewable energy projects, like a 150 kilowatt solar array at Colorado Rocky Mountain School located one hour from Aspen.

Aspen Skiing Company is third-party ISO certified as a ‘green' company, the first of only two ski resorts in the country to achieve this recognition. ISO 14001 certification is the most widely known and respected environmental stamp of approval, which demonstrates responsible management of the company's environmental impacts.

Almost half of Aspen/Snowmass employees contribute a dollar a week to the Environment Foundation.  Their contributions are matched by the Aspen Community Foundation and again by the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund, and donations--$1.3 million to date--go to local environmental causes like clean air and water, trail maintenance and energy efficiency programs



In 2005, the City of Aspen actively addressed climate change by creating the Canary Initiative, the sustainability and climate action department. While Canary works in many different realms of sustainability, the majority of their work is oriented around reducing Aspen’s greenhouse gas emissions. Aspen has set community goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions a total of 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Aspen’s Climate Action Plan is serving as a roadmap document to reach these greenhouse gas reduction goals. This plan is meant to help guide ongoing programs and policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also identifying which may have the most impact. This plan is a “living document,” meaning it will be updated every few years to serve and engage with the Aspen community through 2050.

For more information on Aspen’s Climate Action Plan, click here.

In addition to Canary’s greenhouse gas reduction programs, the department offers energy efficiency support to residents and businesses, works on resiliency planning to help Aspen respond to the impacts of a changing climate, and represents Aspen at state, national and global policy levels.


Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
Laying the foundation for Aspen's embrace of the environment is the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES). At its four Roaring Fork Valley locations, ACES offers year-round camps and classes for kids and adults, leads naturalist guided tours and provides in-classroom environmental education for area schools. ACES also conducts restoration projects, including collaborative forest health initiatives all as part of a concerted effort to transform environmental liabilities into solutions, while simultaneously addressing the global climate crisis. 970.925.5756

Rocky Mountain Institute
Concentrating on areas such as energy, transportation, water issues and climate change, the Rocky Mountain Institute has been internationally recognized for the global promise and impact of its strategic plans, educational programs and the dynamic ideas it offers to corporations, governments, communities and citizens. It influences national and international policy, with its representatives regularly addressing Congress and international governing bodies. 970.927-3851 

The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute's Energy and Environment Program creates impartial venues for global leaders to engage in informed discussion around some of the most important and complex issues facing the world today, and hosts the annual Aspen Environment Forum, led by energy experts, government and business leaders, writers and photographers, and other knowledgeable and committed voices in the field. 970.925.7010