Sustainability

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In June 2018, the Sustainable Wheat Ridge (SWR) Committee published recommendations to enhance the environmental sustainability of Wheat Ridge, provide strong financial returns, and bring substantial benefits to public health, community cohesion, and livability.

Our goal of this page is to provide a platform for residents to engage with the Sustainable Wheat Ridge resident advisory committee and city staff regarding sustainability topics in Wheat Ridge. We will be updating this page regularly with new topics, resources and programs and will utilize resident feedback to inform the development of future sustainability program offerings. We look forward to hearing from the community!

The six focus areas of Sustainable Wheat Ridge are:

Green Building and Energy Efficiency

Renewable Energy

Solid Waste and Recycling

Transportation

Water

Communications and Engagement

Join the conversation by engaging with the tools below!

In June 2018, the Sustainable Wheat Ridge (SWR) Committee published recommendations to enhance the environmental sustainability of Wheat Ridge, provide strong financial returns, and bring substantial benefits to public health, community cohesion, and livability.

Our goal of this page is to provide a platform for residents to engage with the Sustainable Wheat Ridge resident advisory committee and city staff regarding sustainability topics in Wheat Ridge. We will be updating this page regularly with new topics, resources and programs and will utilize resident feedback to inform the development of future sustainability program offerings. We look forward to hearing from the community!

The six focus areas of Sustainable Wheat Ridge are:

Green Building and Energy Efficiency

Renewable Energy

Solid Waste and Recycling

Transportation

Water

Communications and Engagement

Join the conversation by engaging with the tools below!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - June 2024 - Embrace the Cool: Energy Savings Strategies for Summer

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    As we begin to bask in the glory and warmth of summer, the inevitability of increased energy bills lingers on our minds as we seek refuge in the cool comforts of our homes. But fear not! There are numerous ways to stay cool while keeping your energy consumption - and bills - in check.

    For both renters, homeowners, and businesses alike, smart habits can create smart savings. Simple daily habits can lead to significant savings. For example, if you have a thermostat, increasing the set temperature by 7°-10°F when away can reduce cooling costs. Running dishwashers, laundry machines, and ovens during cooling hours can also prevent additional heat build-up inside, and of course, keeping your cooling systems clean and well maintained will ensure that they run efficiently. Bonus points for using Energy Star rated appliances!

    Colorado’s climate is unique, and so must be its cooling solutions. Some tailored options to look into are Evaporative coolers, whole house fans, and heat pumps! Evaporative coolers are ideal for dry climates like ours, because they add moisture to them and use less energy than traditional AC units. For homeowners, whole house fans are a cost-effective alternative that draws cool air through the house and expels hot air through the attic. Alternatively, heat pumps are versatile systems that can cool and heat your home, a smart 2-in-1 investment!

    For budget friendly options, consider natural cooling methods, such as taking advantage of Colorado’s cool nights. Opening your windows after dusk invites the cool air inside, just remember to close them again during the day! You can use blinds and curtains to shield your interiors from the relentless sun during peak hours as well! As of January 1, 2024, Coloradans can take advantage of tax credits to install heat pumps for space heating and cooling and water heating through the Colorado Energy Office.

    Finally, maximize efficiency with tax credits, rebates, and Assistance programs! Colorado offers a suite of incentives that make energy efficiency an achievable goal for all residents! For starters, the Colorado Energy Office Weatherization Assistance Program partners with local weatherization agencies throughout the state to provide free weatherization services to Colorado homeowners and renters alike. Looking to do some home improvements? Local utility companies extend cash-back rebates for various energy efficiency upgrades. Programs like EnergySmart Colorado are a treasure trove of information and assistance.

    By adopting these energy saving measures, not only do we ensure a cooler home environment, but we also contribute to a greener, more sustainable Colorado! Let’s take advantage of state and federal incentives, embrace natural cooling methods, and make informed choices about our energy use. Together, we can enjoy a comfortable summer while safeguarding our beautiful state for future generations.

    Stay cool, stay green and save big this summer!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - May 2024 - Paint Recycling Event

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  • Sustainability Spotlight - April 2024 - Action Plan Update and Survey!

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    In January 2024, The City and Sustainable Wheat Ridge, kicked-off a project to update the City’s Sustainability Action Plan. The original 2018 Sustainability Action Plan was community-driven, a collective action taken on behalf of the Sustainable Wheat Ridge Committee.

    The updated plan aims to:

    1) Highlight the sustainability progress that Wheat Ridge has already made.

    2) Understand the vision that Wheat Ridge residents have for the current and future vibrancy of Wheat Ridge.

    3) Be formally adopted by City Council. The plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of summer 2024 and will be a 5-year roadmap for Wheat Ridge.

    Project Goals

    To identify actionable, impactful strategies for Wheat Ridge to improve the following areas:

    • Energy Efficiency and Green Building
    • Equity and Environmental Justice
    • Water
    • Transportation
    • Solid Waste and Recycling
    • Communications and Engagement
    • Businesses and Jobs
    • Arts and Cultures
    • Renewable Energy

    In addition, this project aims to empower residents, businesses, and city staff to take part in creating a more sustainable, vibrant Wheat Ridge through the creation of a 5-year sustainability roadmap.

    How can you get involved?! Take this survey by June 9 to let us know what matters most to you! Subscribe to the project's page on What's Up Wheat Ridge to learn more and stay up to date.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - March 2024 - What's All the Buzz About?

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    As Spring arrives in the Rocky Mountains one noticeable shift into the season includes the faint hum of pollinators and insects as they emerge from their winter habitats and begin to find their way from plant to plant in our urban landscapes.

    Pollinators make it possible for plants to reproduce and create fruits. Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, ants, moths, small mammals and more are responsible for approximately one out of every three bites of food we eat.

    In January 2024, the CO Department of Natural Resources released the 308-page Colorado Native Pollinating Insects Health Study, a commissioned report conducted collaboratively by Colorado State University Extension, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History in consultation with various subject matter experts throughout the state.

    The comprehensive report assessed the health of Colorado’s native pollinators, evaluated the State’s pollinator policies, and recommended ways to preserve and protect pollinators. The study revealed an incredibly vibrant community of native pollinators that are increasingly at risk due to habitat loss, poor land-management practices, pesticides, non-native species competition, and climate change.

    When we support pollinators, we foster thriving ecosystems with robust plant communities that contribute to healthy soils and clean water. In addition to promoting policies that benefit native pollinators, recommended actions include:

    1. Landscape with plants native to Colorado—this saves water, fosters biodiversity, and improves air quality while providing native pollinator habitat.
    2. Select native plants that will be in bloom successively from early spring through fall to support and match the needs of pollinators all season long. Think about which pollinators you’d like to attract and plant specifically for them—bees, butterflies, moths, etc all have different plant preferences.
    3. Use and promote sustainable, regenerative land management practices. Eliminate chemical fertilizer and pesticide use, instead choose alternative methods for pest and weed control.
    4. Provide water sources—think shallow birdbaths and bowls with small pebbles or rocks to provide landing spaces for native pollinators.
    5. Create pollinator habitats—consider adding nesting sites or invertebrate homes to your garden landscape in each season. Leave the fall garden standing through the winter and leave the leaves to provide places for overwintering, too.
    6. Wait to clear out the fall garden until after spring temps are consistently above 50 degrees. Perhaps this is the year to participate in “No Mow May” to let grass grow and provide early season forage for pollinators.

    In simple terms, pollinators require water, a sunny space to rest, and year-round blooms to visit.

    Happy Spring Planting!


    Check out these resources!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - February 2024 - Water Conservation Programs

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    Whether you’re new to Wheat Ridge or have been a long-time resident, you know how dry the climate can get here. Sure, there might be snow on the ground today, but in a few months we can all expect that moisture to dry up and the ground to get dry again. How can we make this precious, limited (and expensive) resource go the distance this upcoming summer? Some ideas could be:

    • Picking native plants that thrive in arid climates and attract pollinators
    • Setting up efficient sprinklers so plants and yards get the right amount of water
    • Replacing lawns with drought-tolerant options like xeriscaping and alternative turf

    Not sure where to get started? Here are 4 programs offered through Resource Central to help inspire your landscaping plans this season:

    Garden in a Box: This popular program makes it easy to transform your yard into a beautiful, drought-tolerant oasis helping you to use less water on your landscaping year after year. Each spring and summer, Resource Central offers a selection of professionally designed, low-water garden kits tailor-made for Colorado yards. These DIY kits include quart-sized perennial plants, plant-by-number maps, seasonal maintenance suggestions, and watering schedule recommendations. These boxes sell out fast — the sale starts March 4, get yours before they’re all gone! Wheat Ridge residents may be eligible for a $25 discount on qualifying purchases while supplies last – just select City of Wheat Ridge as your water provider at checkout.

    Lawn Replacement: By replacing your grass with waterwise plants, you’ll use less water outdoors while supporting pollinators (and spending less time maintaining that yard). It’s an easy way to create a stunning environment that benefits both our communities and the environment. Wheat Ridge residents qualify for a discount of $500 on turf replacement services, learn more here. Discounts are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Apply by April 1 to meet the priority deadline.

    Slow the Flow: This program evaluates sprinklers to help Colorado residents use their water wisely. Gain knowledge about your system, get a customized watering schedule, and learn ways to improve efficiency and reduce water waste. Best of all — these evaluations are FREE to Wheat Ridge residents while supplies last! Registration for this program opens in April, but you can join the wait list today!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - December 2023 - Three Ways to Green Your Home in 2024

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    Investing in energy-efficient updates for your home isn't just a trend — it's a strategic move with many benefits. Here are the top 3 reasons driving home energy efficiency updates today:

    1. Cost Savings: Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, lighting and insulation can lead to lower utility bills. These updates may require an initial investment, but the long-term savings make it a financially savvy decision. Over time, the reduced energy consumption pays dividends, contributing to a more sustainable and budget-friendly lifestyle. Today, Wheat Ridge residents can take advantage of Xcel rebates and tax credits offered through the Inflation Reduction Act. In 2024, experts predict tax rebates will be available to consumers, making it even more affordable to update your home in a smart, efficient way!
    2. Environmental Impact: Traditional energy sources often result in harmful emissions and environmental degradation. By opting for energy-efficient updates, you're actively reducing your carbon footprint through decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. From energy-efficient HVAC systems to solar panel arrays on your roof, each choice contributes to a cleaner, more sustainable planet. It's a small step that collectively makes a big difference.
    3. Health and Comfort: Did you know that living with a gas stove is akin to living with a smoker? One way to combat health risks associated with energy that uses fossil fuels is to electrify your home. Not only will you create a healthier environment to live in, you’ll also be more comfortable. Better insulation and energy-efficient windows can regulate indoor temperatures, creating a more pleasant living space year-round. Smart thermostats and lighting systems offer convenience and control, adapting to your preferences while optimizing energy use.

    Many resources are available to offset the cost of making these updates to your Wheat Ridge home, here are some to consider:

  • Sustainability Spotlight - November 2023 - Compost Your Leaves

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    Three Reasons to Leave the Leaves!

    As winter approaches, leaving leaves on the ground during winter is not just a matter of convenience — it serves an important ecological purpose. Here are three reasons to leave the leaves:

    Insulation: These fallen leaves create a natural blanket that insulates the soil, protecting it from the harsh cold and preventing it from freezing too deeply. This insulation helps to maintain a stable soil temperature, which is vital for the survival of many underground organisms, including beneficial insects and earthworms. When these creatures are allowed to thrive, they contribute to a healthier and more balanced ecosystem by breaking down organic matter and improving soil structure. Additionally, this natural insulation reduces the risk of soil erosion by keeping the topsoil in place, preventing it from being washed away by winter rain or snowmelt.

    Soil Nutrients: Leaves on the ground also provide essential habitat and food for various wildlife species. Many insects and small invertebrates seek refuge among the leaf litter, providing a valuable food source for birds and other wildlife during the winter months. The decomposing leaves release important nutrients into the soil, benefiting plants and trees by enhancing their growth and overall health. This natural recycling of organic matter contributes to a sustainable and self-sustaining ecosystem.

    Saves Time & Resources: Leaving leaves on the ground helps gardeners and homeowners reduce the need for excessive yard work and the use of fossil fuels in the form of leaf blowers or lawn mowers. Allowing leaves to decompose naturally not only conserves energy but also saves time and resources while promoting a more environmentally friendly approach to yard maintenance.

    Overall, the practice of leaving leaves on the ground during winter is a simple yet powerful way to support a healthy and resilient ecosystem, enhance soil health, and reduce our environmental impact.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - October 2023 - Benefits of a Plant-based Diet

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    Embracing a plant-based diet is not just good for your health; it's also a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet. One of the key environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption is the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock farming, particularly cattle, produces a significant amount of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that accelerates climate change. By choosing plant-based options, you can help cut down on the demand for meat and thus decrease these harmful emissions.

    Vegetarian diets require fewer resources, such as land and water. Meat production demands vast amounts of both. The land used for grazing and growing animal feed could be repurposed for reforestation or cultivating crops that can feed more people. Additionally, the runoff from animal agriculture, including waste and chemicals, pollutes our waterways and contributes to dead zones in the oceans. By consuming more plants and fewer animal products, you contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and water conservation. It's a small change that can make a big difference. Whether it's for your health, the environment, or a mix of both, going vegetarian or even just increasing the amount of plant-based meals in your diet is a delicious and planet-friendly choice that can positively impact the world we live in.

    Over 1,400 US mayors supported a resolution to promote plant-based initiatives to help improve public health and reduce food-based emissions. The resolution, called “A Plant-Based Approach has Promise to Address Chronic Disease, Environmental, and Fiscal Burdens Facing Cities Across the Nation”, was introduced by New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - September 2023 - How Can You Take Advantage of the Inflation Reduction Act?

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    Are $1800 per year household savings and $26,500 for a new EV of interest to you?

    The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides a number of tax incentives to increase home energy efficiency and reduce air pollution from transportation. The household energy savings could total a typical $1800 per year if the homeowner takes advantage of most available incentives. The vehicle incentives could amount to $26,500 on a less expensive vehicle if the purchaser does not exceed the income limits. While taking advantage of these savings, citizens also would be contributing to solving the increasing risks of extreme weather that locally include drought, wildfire, and the health impacts of extreme heat and ozone pollution, not to mention other extreme weather risks elsewhere.

    The $1800 per year household savings come from the following incentives.

    The Energy Efficient Home Improvement Credit (26 U.S. Code § 25C) allows households to deduct from their taxes up to 30% of the cost of upgrades to their home including installing energy efficient equipment such as heat pumps, cook stoves (electric induction cook-tops boil water faster than gas stoves), home insulation, doors and windows, and upgrading breaker boxes to accommodate additional electric load.

    These deductions are limited to $600 per measure, up to $1,200 per household per year—except the limit is $2,000 for buying and installing a heat pump for hot water or heat pump for their home heating and cooling. Energy Smart Colorado adds to the federal incentives with tax credits and rebates for heat pumps, home electrification and appliances. Xcel Energy offers another $600-800 rebate for heat pump water heaters.

    The Colorado Energy Office and Denver Regional Council of Governments are applying for grants from the Department of Energy that will provide additional rebates to middle/low-income households for energy saving retrofits and high-efficiency electric home appliances. The rebates will be much more generous than the current tax credits, and so significantly increase the estimated $1,800 per year household savings.

    These incentives are most important if you currently are faced with an impending replacement of household equipment for heating, cooling, and cooking. Such replacements have a life of 25 years, and so it would be good timing to replace aging equipment with cost-saving modern equipment.

    The Residential Clean Energy Credit (26 U.S. Code § 25D), re-ups an existing program allowing households installing solar to deduct 30% of the cost of the project from their taxes. This credit includes residential battery storage. Energy Smart Colorado also offers a 30% tax credit for roof top solar.

    If you are also a business owner, 26 U.S. Code § 179D provides a tax deduction for energy efficiency improvements to commercial buildings, such as improvements to interior lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, and hot water. The deduction is $0.50-$1 per square foot of building, depending on the efficiency increase.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - August 2023 - Help the Pollinators Prosper

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    Did you know that as a caterpillar, the monarch butterfly can only eat milkweed plants? As monarchs make the long flight north from their winter home in Mexico or California, they stop to lay eggs on milkweed. The new caterpillar eats the milkweed’s leaves, spins a cocoon and the monarch butterfly that emerges continues the journey to Canada. Monarch populations have been decimated recently due to degradation and loss of habitat. However, it’s easy to help the species survive by planting milkweed in your garden! There are several types of milkweed that thrive in a variety of conditions such as showy, common, swamp, and butterfly weed. Sometimes it might take a year or so before monarchs find the milkweed, but in the meantime, plenty of other pollinators will benefit.

    Colorado is home to many native pollinators. There are over 900 species of native bees plus the moths, birds, and even flies that pollinate our gardens. In fact, the honey bee is non-native and was brought over by European settlers. Colorado’s native pollinators rely on native plants to sustain them. Some native plants, like milkweed, are keystone species vital to more than just monarchs, they are essential to a healthy ecosystem.

    Many people are planting keystone plants as they participate in the HOMEGROWN NATIONAL PARK® initiative. This grassroots call-to-action to regenerate biodiversity and ecosystem function by planting native plants and creating new ecological networks was cofounded by ecologist Doug Tallamy. Their webpage hosts a selection of his videos that discuss the importance of keystone plants and how you can join the movement by including native plants in your garden. Plants are the foundation of the food chain and fostering an environment where both plants and pollinators thrive will enhance the biodiversity of the whole ecosystem. There are many organizations along the front range to help you with native plant selection including The Colorado Native Plant Society and Wild Ones Front Range Chapter. These organizations hold plant swaps in early summer and seed swaps in the fall, everyone is welcome, with or without plants/seeds. Plus they have tours and educational materials!

    Don’t have the land to grow your own flowers and vegetables or want to join a gardening community? Wheat Ridge’s Happiness Community Gardens on Ammons St between 41st and 44th Avenue is the place to get your hands dirty! Stop by this blooming community garden full of flowers and vegetables at any time. Check out the event calendar to see how to join the community garden in 2024.

Page last updated: 18 Jun 2024, 10:47 AM