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 - January 2023 - 2023 Outlook

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    Happy New Years from Sustainable Wheat Ridge and we hope your year has been off to a great start! The Sustainable Wheat Ridge committee recently completed their strategic planning for 2023, and have a full roster of topics to focus on this year:

    • Green Business Program and Award – Sustainable Wheat Ridge will continue the tradition of presenting an annual green business award later in the year, and will also be researching green business initiatives to implement in Wheat Ridge.
    • Inflation Reduction Act and Grant Opportunities Research – There are numerous programs and funding opportunities becoming available through the Inflation Reduction Act, and the committee will be researching and tracking these opportunities as more information becomes available, as well as looking into other grant opportunities.
    • Greenhouse Gas and Emissions Reduction – Sustainable Wheat Ridge will continue to pursue electric vehicle charging stations and looking into pathways such as code amendments to encourage green building, energy efficiency, and emissions reduction.
    • Solar opportunities in Wheat Ridge – the committee is assessing the feasibility of solar projects in Wheat Ridge such as community solar or a solar co-op.
    • Sustainability Action Plan Update - The City and Sustainable Wheat Ridge will be working to update the current Sustainability Action Plan to reflect progress made so far as well as to analyze and prioritize new and existing goals and action items.
    • Responsible Waste Management – Sustainable Wheat Ridge will continue to advocate for responsible waste management practices, and will be working with the City in upcoming months to engage with residents about such practices – stay tuned for more details on this process soon!

    Keep an eye on the City’s Facebook page, website, and What’s Up Wheat Ridge site to continue receiving information on our progress, current sustainability happenings, upcoming events and opportunities!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - December 2022 - E-bikes Help Riders Go Further and Faster, Carry Kids and Cargo, and Reduce Pollution

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    Electric bikes, or e-bikes, look mostly like a regular bike, but have a battery-powered motor activated by pedaling or a throttle to help riders go further and faster than they would on a regular bike. Researchers have found that e-bike riders take longer trips compared to regular cyclists, and often use their e-bikes to replace car trips. Since most trips that Americans make are less than 3 miles, there is great potential for e-bikes to replace car trips and therefore lessen our air and climate pollution. Many e-bike models are also designed to carry cargo - including kids, pets, or groceries - and so make skipping the car trip even more possible.

    E-bikes Come In Many Shapes, Sizes, and Price Points

    In addition to their sustainability benefits, e-bikes are also just fun to ride, and can help many who may not otherwise be able to ride a bike far distances do so. E-bikes are popular amongst parents with kids, older adults, and adaptive e-bikes and e-tricycles can be great options for people with disabilities. Colorado, along with many other states, classifies e-bikes into three different types, with Class 1 being the most common. In general, Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed wherever a regular bike is allowed, though local laws vary. Class 3 e-bikes are typically only allowed on roads, including bike lanes.

    There are many e-bike models available today, at a wide range of prices. A typical e-bike costs between $1,000 and $2,500, though online retailers often have lower cost options and e-cargo bikes and higher end e-bikes can often be more expensive. While typically more expensive than online retailers, local bike shops often carry higher quality e-bikes that they can repair on site – some local bike shops that carry e-bikes include:

    Safe Streets Are Needed

    One of the biggest barriers to increasing bicycling and e-bikes remains the lack of safe streets and routes to ride. Wheat Ridge has made some progress in recent years, with adding bike lanes to Harlan St for a small section for example, but has much further to go to create a network where everyone from kids to older adults can feel comfortable riding, as is envisioned in the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

    Programs to Support E-bikes

    Readers may have heard about the popularity of Denver’s e-bike rebate program, which just this year has provided funding for residents to purchase 4,100 e-bikes. Early next year, the Colorado Energy Office will be launching a statewide e-bike rebate program to help low and moderate income Coloradans afford an e-bike through a local bike shop. In addition, the state will be continuing its grant programs to local governments and organizations to support local e-bike libraries, as well as a new e-cargo bike program for restaurants or other delivery needs. Stay tuned for more information coming soon.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - November 2022 - The Inflation Reduction Act Delivers Affordable Clean Energy Directly to Households and Small Businesses

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    The Inflation Reduction Act is the most significant legislation in U.S. history to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen American energy security. It will lower energy costs for households and small businesses, and deliver a clean, secure, and healthy future for our children and grandchildren.

    LOWER ENERGY COSTS: The Inflation Reduction Act will make it more affordable to purchase energy efficient appliances, make energy efficient repairs around homes that will save money on utility bills each month, through:

    • Rebates covering 50-100% of the cost of installing new electric appliances, including super-efficient heat pumps, water heaters, clothes dryers, stoves, and ovens. Low- and moderate-income households are eligible for rebates.
    • Rebates for households to make repairs and improvements in single-family and multi-family homes to increase energy efficiency.
    • Tax credits covering 30% of the costs to install solar panels and battery storage systems, make home improvements that reduce energy leakage, or upgrade heating and cooling equipment. No income limits apply.
    • Tax credits covering 30% of the costs of community solar projects—owned by local businesses that sign up families to save on their electric bills—with additional bonus credits of 20% for projects at affordable housing properties and 10% for projects in low-income communities.

    SMALL BUSINESS: Commercial building owners can receive a tax credit up to $5 per square foot to support energy efficiency improvements that deliver lower utility bills. Other programs that benefit small businesses include tax credits covering 30% of the costs of installing low-cost solar power and of purchasing clean trucks and vans for commercial fleets.

    ELECTRIC VEHICLES: The Inflation Reduction Act will make it easier and cheaper to purchase an electric vehicle, with upfront discounts up to $7,500 for new EVs and $4,000 for used EVs, helping middle-class Americans skip the gas pump and save on fuel costs. Colorado recently submitted a state plan for using funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build EV charging stations along highways.

    CLEANER AIR: The Inflation Reduction Act will significantly reduce air pollution, resulting in fewer asthma attacks. Lowering greenhouse gas emissions will improve metro Denver air quality—preventing premature deaths. In addition to reducing pollution across the country, the Act will benefit communities most in need of cleaner air with environmental justice block grants that will prioritize emissions-reducing projects in disadvantaged communities, and investments for cleaner buses and trucks.

    Many of these benefits are available in this 2022 tax year, with others becoming available in 2023.

    The preceding information was taken from a White House web site.

  • November 2022 Sustainability Events

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    Sustainable Wheat Ridge and the City of Wheat Ridge are pleased to offer the following events coming up in November. Make sure you reserve a spot soon!

    Fall Yard Waste Event with Scraps Mile High - November 12-13 from 8am - 1pm at Anderson Park


    Leaf Drop at Happiness Community Gardens - November 19 from 9-11 a.m.


  • Sustainability Spotlight - October 2022 - Winter is Coming, Time to Consider Home Energy Efficiency Updates

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    Building emissions and electricity generation are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. The EPA estimates that 13% of US emissions come from residential and commercial buildings, usually from gas burned for heat, while another 25% of emissions comes from electricity generation. Though home heating is less likely to be electric, some people have electric heat or electric water heating.

    With winter coming, it is a great time to consider ways you can make your home more energy efficient. Some easy upgrades include installing LED light bulbs, sealing drafty doors, covering your windows with insulating shades, and switching to smart thermostats.

    More complex improvements include sealing crawl spaces, adding blow-in insulation, sealing other leaks between walls and roofs or flooring and foundation where cold air comes into your home, and upgrading your appliances.

    If you do need to upgrade your heating system, you could consider some greener options. Some of these options may qualify for federal tax credits or rebates under the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, or for Colorado State tax credits, or for rebates with your utility, so make sure to investigate different options that could help you reduce the cost of purchase and installation of these types of systems:

    • Geothermal – using air from underground where the earth maintains a consistent temperature. It requires less energy to heat this air from 50 or so degrees up to your desired temperature versus heating winter air, which can be much colder.
    • Thermal solar – using solar energy to heat water that you then use to heat your home via radiators or radiant floors. You can also use thermal solar for water heating only (if, for example, you already have a furnace but need to replace your water heater).
    • Radiant heatingradiant heat is usually a more efficient form of heat than forced air, and there are a variety of different types of radiant systems from in-floor systems to wall panels.
    • Heat pumps – these work similar to your refrigerator and use electricity to transfer heat from a cool space to a warm space. They can be used for cooling as well as heating.
    • Adding solar panels to run an electric heating system or electric hot water heater.

    In Wheat Ridge, most people have Xcel as their energy provider, and Xcel offers their Home Energy Squad service which can do virtual or in-home visits with you to determine different ways to make your home more efficient! You can learn more about their audit options on their website: https://co.my.xcelenergy.com/s/residential/home-services/home-energy-squad.

    If you think home energy efficiency upgrades are going to be too expensive for your budget, you could apply to the Energy Resource Center (https://www.erc-co.org/). The Energy Resource Center is a non-profit construction company assisting income-qualified families through energy efficiency improvements. Work completed includes insulation, HVAC, hot water heaters, lighting, appliances, air sealing and more. These upgrades are designed to reduce your energy usage and lower your monthly bills.

    Additionally, if you have a home sprinkler system, don’t forget to close it up for the winter! It’s important to blow the water out of your sprinkler lines to reduce the risk of cracks during the cold months.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - September 2022 - Leave Your Leaves!

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    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leaves and other yard debris account for more than 13 percent of the nation’s solid waste. Without enough oxygen to decompose, this organic matter releases methane, a very harmful greenhouse gas.

    One of the most valuable things you can do to reduce the effects of methane emissions from yard waste as well as to support pollinators and other invertebrates, is to leave your fall yard waste in place.

    One of the next most valuable things you can do to support pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide them with the winter cover they need in the form of fall leaves and standing dead plant material. It may be habitual, a matter of social conditioning, or a holdover of outdated gardening practices from yesteryear—but for whatever reason, we just can’t seem to help ourselves from wanting to tidy up the garden at the end of the season—raking, mowing, and blowing away a bit of nature that is essential to the survival of moths, butterflies, snails, spiders, and dozens of arthropods.

    The vast majority of butterflies and moths overwinter in the landscape as an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or adult. These butterflies use leaf litter for winter cover. Great spangled fritillary and wooly bear caterpillars tuck themselves into a pile of leaves for protection from cold weather and predators. Red-banded hairstreaks lay their eggs on fallen oak leaves, which become the first food of the caterpillars when they emerge. Luna moths and swallowtail butterflies disguise their cocoons and chrysalises as dried leaves, blending in with the “real” leaves. Examples go on and on!


    National Wildlife Federation has this advice to help the planet, your soil, as well as our pollinators:

    • Let leaves stay where they fall. They won't hurt your lawn if you chop them with a mulching mower.

    • Rake leaves off the lawn to use as mulch in garden beds. For finer-textured mulch, shred them first.

    • Let leaf piles decompose; the resulting leaf mold can be used as a soil amendment to improve structure and water retention.

    • Make compost: Combine fallen leaves (“brown material”) with grass clippings and other “green material” and keep moist and well mixed. You’ll have nutrient-rich compost to add to your garden next spring.

    • Build a brush shelter. Along with branches, sticks and stems, leaves can be used to make brush piles that shelter native wildlife.

    • Still too many leaves? Share them with neighbors, friends, schools and others. Some communities will pick up leaves and make compost to sell or give away. Many neighborhoods in Wheat Ridge are offering a compost yard waste pick up service, so watch for those announcements!

  • Sustainability Spotlight - August 2022 - Make Your Next Vehicle an Electric Vehicle

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    Have you thought about making your next vehicle purchase an electric vehicle (EV)? Choosing an EV lowers your carbon footprint now and will lower it even more so in the future. Today when you charge an EV, you are probably using electricity partially produced with coal and natural gas. In the future as utilities move away from carbon-producing generation, your car will more likely be charged with power generated from renewable resources such as wind and solar.

    How can you improve your carbon footprint today? Choose to charge your car when renewable energy is more available. In Colorado that is frequently in the middle of the night when wind generation is high and power usage is low. If your car doesn’t need a full charge, you may be able to schedule your car to start charging after everyone has gone to bed, power usage is low, and renewable power is more abundant.

    Are you concerned that your new vehicle’s battery will run out when you are on the road? Range anxiety is a common concern. Newer EVs have larger batteries which allow for more road miles before requiring to be recharged, lessening range anxiety. Most people will do 90% of their charging at home, because it is easy, convenient, and likely the cheapest way to charge. After purchasing an EV, owners quickly learn to adjust their thinking from filling up once every couple of weeks to simply plugging in when they arrive home several times a week or maybe even every night. Charging at night and on the weekends at home will provide you with the least expensive electricity.

    But what about a road trip? Many new vehicles can help you map out your trip and can identify charging locations; apps are also available with the same information. More chargers are being installed every day. Check out the tentative plans for Colorado. Remember, what may seem like a concern today will disappear as more charging stations are built out over the next few years.

    When you are out searching for a vehicle be sure to research a few unique items for EVs.

    Is it a hybrid or battery-only EV? A hybrid vehicle has both a battery and a motor set up along with the traditional engine that runs when the battery runs out. These vehicles have a small battery that is typically good for an average commute. They save on gas, but the maintenance and headaches of an internal combustion engine still exist. A battery-only electric vehicle runs on a battery and motor(s). This design is much simpler with less moving parts, so maintenance headaches are greatly diminished.

    Learn what the maximum mileage range of the vehicle is. Will that work with your driving habits for this vehicle? Super chargers are being installed more frequently. Today these are most frequently found along the interstate system and are being strategically placed so you can always have a charger within reach. These chargers, also called level 3 chargers or Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC’s), charge at a high rate and can have you charged up in 20 minutes to an hour depending on the size of the battery, the capability of the super charger, and the capability of the vehicle. Battery sizes are increasing, super charger sizes are increasing and ability for cars to handle larger chargers is increasing. In addition, many chargers are conveniently located near restrooms, convenience stores, and restaurants.

    You’ll also need to learn how long it will take to charge at home. Electric vehicles can be charged with alternating current, normal household power, using a charger and the car’s onboard charger that converts the alternating current to direct current. Charging time will depend on the size of battery, the charger’s capability, and the vehicle’s on-board charging capabilities. The speed of charging will be limited by the smaller of the charger capability and the vehicles on board charger capability. Many people will want to invest in a level 2 charger that uses a 240 Volt outlet, similar to a dryer outlet. These chargers typically charge a vehicle in 3-8 hours. Work by an electrician is likely needed along with the purchase of a charger.

    Another charging option is just using your typical 120 Volt outlet or a level 1 charger. This won’t charge the EV very fast, but if you plan on plugging in every night and on the weekends, this may do the trick for you. This is always an option if you are visiting friends or family and you want to plug-in but they don’t have a level 2 charger.

    Finally, be sure to check out and understand existing Federal and State Tax Credits and credits being considered in Congress right now for starting in 2023, as well as a few other resources:

    • This Consumer Guide to Electric Vehicles is published by the Electric Power Research Institute, can provide you with an understanding of range availability for most electric vehicles available today along with the expected different charge times and also has links to many other sources.
    • The Department of Energy also provides a quick guide to understanding how long and how much it costs to charge an electric vehicle.
  • Paint Recycling Event - Saturday, July 30!

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    Join us next Saturday for the 2nd Annual Paint Recycling Event!

    The City of Wheat Ridge, the Sustainable Neighborhood Network, and GreenSheen will host a paint recycling event on Saturday, July 30 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Anderson Park located at 4355 Field Street in Wheat Ridge. This drive-thru event is FREE; however, voluntary donations will be accepted and these funds will benefit the Sustainable Neighborhood Network and community sustainability projects.

    Products Accepted: Oil, acrylic and latex paints, stains, shellacs, lacquers, sealers, varnishes, urethanes

    Products Not Accepted: Aerosol (spray) paint, paint thinner, solvents, cleaning agents, adhesives, drywall mud, roof patch

  • Sustainability Spotlight - July 2022 - Go Green With Your Yard

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    You may notice more planting variety in yards around Wheat Ridge as residents swap traditional turf lawns for more interesting, low maintenance and locally appropriate options. Traditional turf lawns are not native to Colorado and therefore require significant water, synthetic chemicals, and constant mowing to maintain a desired look. Instead, residents are happily discovering that locally appropriate options are much easier to maintain and offer significant savings in water, time, and cost. If you’re interested in making a change, here are some options:


    Clover Lawn:

    If you still want to keep the look of a green lawn without the hassle of constant watering and mowing, consider adding clover to your lawn. Clover not only stays green year-round, it also takes nitrogen from the air and fixes it into the soil, acting as an integral fertilizer and naturally improving the soil. Additionally, it is not affected by pet urine, resists blight and mildew, does not need herbicides or pesticides and rarely needs to be mowed.

    Note that there are several different varieties of clover so be sure to do a bit of homework to determine which is best for you. While Dutch White Clover is the most common, some other varietals like Microclover can better stand up to the wear and tear of heavy foot traffic. To start a clover lawn, simply add clover seed to your existing lawn a little bit at a time after mowing. The clover will mix with the turf and may eventually take over completely. To achieve a faster result, you can also add clover seed during the core aeration process or after digging up your lawn.


    Native Plants:

    If you would like to add more variety to your yard, remove portions of your lawn altogether and replace them with native plants. According to CSU Extension’s Sustainable Landscape Master Program, native plants will live longer with much less maintenance than non-native plants and turf. They require little water, restore balance with our natural insect population, foster pollinators and replace some of the native habitat that has been lost with development. As a bonus, they additionally create a sense of place, helping our neighborhoods reflect our unique Western location.

    Fortunately, there are great resources available to help you get a professional look without the research. The Garden in a Box program through Resource Central provides a variety of waterwise native plant kits tailor-made for Colorado yards that have been curated by experts from the Botanic Gardens and CSU Extension Office. Every Fall and Spring, they come out with new offerings and provide plant-by-number maps, seasonal maintenance suggestions and watering instructions. Boxes are currently on sale for pickup in late August or early September. Wheat Ridge Residents can get a $25 rebate through the City of Wheat Ridge while supplies last through the Resource Central website.

  • Sustainability Spotlight - June 2022 - The Colorado Safety Stop: A New Law for Bicyclists at Intersections

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    The Colorado Safety Stop is a statewide safety-enhancing policy that allows bicyclists to perform a “safety stop” at intersections by treating stop signs as yield signs and treating stop lights as stop signs when the intersection is clear and they have the right of way.


    What is the Colorado Safety Stop?

    • Bicyclists can yield and then proceed through stop sign-controlled intersections at up to 10 miles per hour. Younger bicyclists (under age 15) must be accompanied by an adult to perform this maneuver.
    • Bicyclists can make a complete stop at a stop light and then proceed through an intersection on a red light if there is no oncoming cross traffic or crossing pedestrians. Left turns onto any two-way streets are exempted under the new law.
    • Intersections with bicyclist-specific lights or signs that prohibit the maneuver are exempt from The Colorado Safety Stop.

    This law applies to small profile, low-speed vehicles that people use for transportation and recreation, including bicycles and electric bicycles, electric scooters (not including mopeds), and wheelchairs.

    With nearly 3/4 of all bicycle-driver crashes occurring at intersections, the Safety Stop helps to prevent crashes between bicyclists and drivers where they happen the most. Other states have proven that getting bicyclists out of intersections faster reduces crashes. For example, Idaho saw a nearly 15% bicycle-driver crash reduction in the year after adopting the Safety Stop, while Delaware saw a 23% drop bicycle-driver crashes in the 30 months after adopting the bill compared to the 30 months before adopting the bill.

    It is good for both bicyclists and drivers to be aware of this new safe and legal option for bicyclists to proceed through intersections. As we enter the summer months and as gas prices rise, more people ride bicycles. One of the most efficient and environmentally friendly modes of self-powered transportation, bicycle riding minimizes fossil fuel use, reduces pollution, and promotes health and well-being.


    For more information on the Colorado Safety Stop:

    https://www.codot.gov/safety/traffic-safety-pulse/2022/may/all-about-the-colorado-safety-stop

    https://www.codot.gov/safety/traffic-safety-pulse/2022/may/assets/safety-stop-pamphlet-final.pdf

    https://www.bicyclecolorado.org/get-involved/take-action/current-issues/

    https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2022A/bills/2022a_1028_rer.pdf


    June Sustainability Updates:

    The Fall Garden In A Box Sale begins on June 21! The City of Wheat Ridge is offering $25 discounts to the first 20 residents to purchase a garden kit. Fall is a great time to plant and a fantastic way to enjoy the cooler temperatures. These garden kits are expected to sell out quickly, so make sure to get your order in once the sale starts! Shop today at ResourceCentral.org/Gardens

Page last updated: 26 Jan 2023, 01:09 PM