Perhaps you have heard people say that Colorado Springs is a “conservative community.” That people who live here tend to be “conservative people.”
If that is true, then why is our community doing things that are the envy of more liberal regions?
When it comes to environmental actions, we are people doing our best to preserve the natural beauty around us. Perhaps that is because the root word of “conservative” is “conserve”?
As a community we have conserved an enviable amount of open space in the past 17 years. That is why we receive national recognition as a trail running and mountain biking destination. This was made possible by the Trails, Open Space and Parks Ordinance, which allocates sales tax funding and was passed by voters in 1997.
Our community also has been a leader in the community solar garden movement. These shared solar arrays allow homes and businesses, even if shaded by trees, to receive a utility bill credit as if the panels were on their own roof. We were one of the first in the country to do that.
In addition, the Colorado Springs area has created a cutting-edge regional sustainability plan. The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments convened businesses, community leaders, employers and nonprofits to create a roadmap from now to 2030. One of the important goals in this plan is for our region to reduce energy use by 20 percent from a 2010 baseline.
What that really means is that we are planning to cut waste.
No matter what your politics, it is hard to argue in favor of waste. We pretty much all agree that waste of any type is negative. We don’t want to waste our time, money or effort. Why do we not think twice about wasting energy?
Energy conservation is not low-hanging fruit – it is the fruit lying on the ground. All we need to do is pick it up.
America has 5 percent of the world’s population, yet our nation consumes 25 percent of the world’s energy. It is estimated that about 30 percent of our nation’s energy is wasted through inefficient equipment or behavior.
Energy efficiency improvements in all manner of energy consumption can greatly enhance the bottom line for a family or a business, at the same time keeping people more comfortable and safer. Technologies to help support such improvements continue to be developed and represent significant business opportunities.
Here in Colorado Springs, the Energy Resource Center keeps people efficiently warm and safe by providing no-cost improvements for families in need.
We recently began a social enterprise by which people can hire us to do the same efficiency improvements for a fee, and all profits go to serve those in need. One thing we also have learned from this new venture is that there is demand for energy efficiency improvement experts.
It may seem odd for a business to state that we could use more “competitors,” but our mission is to prevent energy waste.
Utility providers in the Pikes Peak region actively work with their customers to engage them in energy efficiency programs. The consumer, however, is a critical element in the equation; programs offered by Utilities are most successful when substantial numbers of consumers participate.
We are excited to serve the many people in our community who recognize that waste represents bad stewardship of the resources we have been given, and that improvements are affordable, effective and pay dividends for decades to come.
Let’s all pull together and help this region reach our energy conservation goal!
Howard Brooks is the executive director of the Energy Resource Center, a Colorado Springs nonprofit. Contact him at 591-0772 or erc-co.org.