State and Local Climate and Energy Program
Climate-Wise Community Program
La Plata County, Colorado
Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Timeline: February 2011 – January 2014
The four project areas of the Climate-Wise Community Program are well underway. Southern Ute Community Action Programs, Inc. (SUCAP) is continuing to work to offer an on-bus Wi-Fi system to attract ridership under the Climate-Informed Mileage Reduction program and increasing ridership through general communication and advertising. Durango Discovery Museum (DDM) is completing the development of the hands-on lesson plans and activities for the Resource Smart Design curriculum. DDM has set up exhibits such as the Powerhouse, stage demonstrations, and interactive kiosks including the Magic Planet multimedia globe to educate students. An Architecture + Design Camp was held in the museum, which taught basic architectural design, drawing and modeling skills, as well as basic passive and active green building techniques. DDM also hosted two presentations by Daniel D. Chiras, an expert in green building.
La Plata County distributed 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, and BearSmart Durango, to collaborate on their local food initiatives. Lastly, the Resource Smart Business Program (RSBP) team launched a monthly free rider day on local public transit, and started distributing a weekly “Smart Tips” e-newsletter. Several project partners received training to become Sustainability Score assessors and conducted assessments on pilot businesses. The Program issued a rebate to a pilot business for LED lighting retrofits, and RSBP has accepted eight new businesses for the third round of implementation.
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: Magic PlanetTM and Resource Smart Design,
- Climate-Friendly Local Food System, and
- Resource Smart Business Program
First, La Plata County will partner with Road Runner Transit, an in-place rural transit system, to decrease vehicle miles traveled. Road Runner Transit, a division of Southern Ute Community Action Programs, Inc., aims 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.
Next, La Plata County will partner with Durango Discovery Museum to educate children and youth on energy efficiency. The museum will purchase a state-of-the-art, interactive multimedia earth globe called the Magic Planet™ and will further develop a comprehensive, interactive climate change program for Kindergarten through 8th graders using NASA-based curriculum and Magic Planet™ technology. The Museum will also develop a building science-based curriculum and program, designed to create hands-on resource smart building design and engineering education opportunities.
Third, La Plata County will partner 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.
|Area||1,692 square miles|
|Median Household Income||$53,713|
|Reported Results (as of September 2012)||Projected Cumulative Results|
|Annual GHG Reductions||19 mt CO2e||5,847 mt CO2e|
|Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled Reductions||28,445 miles||330,000 miles|
|Annual Electricity Reductions||8 MWh||59 MWh|
|Green Jobs Created||0||6.5|
- Durango Discovery Museum Camp Discovery
- Durango Discovery Museum Spark Shop Speakers
- Healthy Community Food Systems website
- 30 local businesses can green up, April 25, 2012
- Letter to the Editor regarding the article “30 local businesses can green up”, May 2012