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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Climate-Wise Community Program

La Plata County, Colorado

Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Timeline: February 2011 – February 2014

Latest Update

All four project areas of the Climate-Wise Community Program are well underway. Southern Ute Community Action Programs, Inc. (SUCAP) is now offering an on-bus Wi-Fi system to attract ridership under the Climate-Informed Mileage Reduction program and is working to increase ridership through general communication and advertising. Durango Discovery Museum (DDM) continues to develop hands-on lesson plans and activities for the Resource Smart Education program. DDM has held an Architecture + Design Camp and set up exhibits, stage demonstrations, and field trip tours to educate students on climate and energy. In December 2012, the Museum created a new field trip lab titled Climate Explorations, which uses the interactive Portable Planet. In this lab, students explore climate change evidence and engage in an in-depth discussion about its effects.

La Plata County continued to distribute a Food System Toolkit to educate producers, consumers, and policymakers about the Climate-Friendly Local Food System program. Additionally, the County has worked with interest groups, such as the La Plata Food Policy Council, Healthy Lifestyle La Plata, Local First, and BearSmart Durango, to collaborate on their local food initiatives. The County also developed resources for supporting school food gardens and developing a Farm to Preschool program in the area.

Lastly, the Resource Smart Business Program (RSBP) team continues to offer a monthly free rider day on local public transit and distributes a weekly “Smart Tips” e-newsletter. In 2013, the Program will transition to a monthly “Smart Tips” e-newsletter in addition to a monthly “Business Spotlight” e-newsletter that will highlight a different participating business each month. RSBP conducted assessments and issued rebates to two businesses in the second round of implementation for LED lighting retrofits, water heater insulation, and weather stripping installation. The Program conducted assessments for three businesses in the fourth round and currently has certified 12 participant businesses as “Resource Smart.” A plan is also being developed to launch RSBP into a replicable, fee-for-service program. SUCAP, DDM, Healthy Community Food Systems, and 4CORE are currently planning a Climate Showcase Communities outreach and celebration event to promote all four projects and celebrate the achievements made so far.

Photos

Students participated in an Energy Transformation Field Trip.

Energy Transformation Field Trip

Students participated in an Energy Transformation Field Trip.

A Durango Girl Scout Troop explored the Solar Roller.

Energy Transformation Field Trip

A Durango Girl Scout Troop explored the Solar Roller.

Students participated in the Montage of Circuits Field Trip

Energy Transformation Field Trip

Students participated in the Montage of Circuits Field Trip

Photo of 3 different food waste containers.

Food Waste Diversion Program

This container pairing shows signs used in food waste diversion program implementation.

Day campers at the Durango Discovery Museum built an adobe bench with a guest builder

Campers at Durango Discovery Museum

Day campers at the Durango Discovery Museum built an adobe bench with a guest builder.

Architecture + Design Camp students at the Durango Discovery Museum built a Net Zero house model

Architecture + Design Camp

Architecture + Design Camp students at the Durango Discovery Museum built a Net Zero house model.

Architecture + Design Camp students at the Durango Discovery Museum learn about net zero homes from a guest architect

Architecture + Design Camp

Architecture + Design Camp students at the Durango Discovery Museum learn about net zero homes from a guest architect.

Sparks and Quarks Camp students at the Durango Discovery Museum learn using the Portable Planet multimedia globe

Sparks and Quarks Camp

Sparks and Quarks Camp students at the Durango Discovery Museum learn using the Portable Planet multimedia globe.

Dan Chiras gives a talk at the Durango Discovery Museum about net zero energy building

Net Zero Energy Building

Dan Chiras gives a talk at the Durango Discovery Museum about net zero energy building.

Dan Chiras gives a talk at the Durango Discovery Museum about net zero energy building

Net Zero Energy Building

Dan Chiras gives a talk at the Durango Discovery Museum about net zero energy building.

Working with RSBP businesses

RSBP businesses

Working with RSBP businesses

Solar panels on an RSBP coffee shop.

RSBP businesses

Solar panels on an RSBP coffee shop.

RSBP Recognition ceremony

RSBP businesses

RSBP Recognition ceremony

RSBP orientation meeting.

RSBP businesses

RSBP orientation meeting

RSBP lighting upgrades

RSBP businesses

RSBP lighting upgrades

RSBP lighting upgrades

RSBP businesses

RSBP lighting upgrades

RSBP energy assessment findings

RSBP businesses

RSBP energy assessment findings

Project Summary

A Comprehensive Program Working to Achieve Net Zero Climate Impacts

La Plata County's Climate-Wise Community Program (the Program) is comprehensive in breadth and depth, achieves ongoing greenhouse gas reductions, and can be replicated easily depending on the needs of different communities. The Program grows from the community’s Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP) process. It includes a Climate-Wise Education Campaign and the following four project areas to build capacity and create lasting change:

  • Climate-Informed Mileage Reduction,
  • Climate Education: Portable Planet and Resource Smart Design,
  • Climate-Friendly Local Food System, and
  • Resource Smart Business Program

La Plata County has partnered with Road Runner Transit, an in-place rural transit system, to increase ridership levels by 125% from 2010 to 2013 through rider education and outreach, incentives, and by outfitting buses with attractive amenities, such as wireless internet service, cup-holders, and reading lights. La Plata County has partnered with Durango Discovery Museum to educate children and youth on energy efficiency. The museum purchased a state-of-the-art, interactive multimedia earth globe called Portable Planet and will further develop a comprehensive, interactive climate change program for Kindergarten through 8th graders using a NASA-based curriculum and Portable Planet technology. The Museum will also continue to develop a building science-based curriculum and program, designed to create hands-on resource smart building design and engineering education opportunities.

La Plata County has also partnered with Healthy Community Food Systems to recruit and inform food producers, marketers, and consumers about the impact of the food choices they make, including the way it is grown, harvested, processed, stored, transported, marketed, and consumed. This three-year effort will reduce the distance food travels to market, while improving the environment, local economy, and community health. This climate-informed local food system will help build capacity within local government, institutions, businesses, and organizations to address greenhouse gas emissions and to help forge partnerships between diverse stakeholder groups (consumers, producers, processors, restaurants, retailers, institutions, organizations, and policy-makers) for greater community and environmental benefit.

Finally, La Plata County will partner with several entities to help businesses lower greenhouse gas emissions, increase the health of their employees, and foster economic connections in La Plata County. The project will provide businesses with:

  • an employee health, energy usage, and sustainability audit,
  • recommended measures with associated return on investment (ROI),
  • a list of local reputable contractors,
  • educational sessions and materials for employees,
  • rebates for implementing high-cost measures, and
  • recognition and marketing materials for the businesses to promote themselves as “Resource Smart”

All Climate-Wise projects will be integrated and marketed as one comprehensive program to ensure consistent community-wide messages. The Climate-Wise Community Program will provide numerous co-benefits, including cleaner air, reduced highway congestion, affordable access to jobs, increased spending in the local economy, improved nutrition and health, and healthier workplaces.

Community Characteristics

Population 49,678
Area 1,692 square miles
Government Type County
Community Type Rural
Median Household Income $53,713

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of June 2013) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 92 mt CO2e 5,847 mt CO2e
Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled Reductions 14,077 miles 330,000 miles
Annual Electricity Reductions 115 MWh 59 MWh
Green Jobs Created 0 6.5

Project Websites

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