Since I was elected to Denver City Council in 2011, I’ve expanded access to open spaces in the City and advanced policies to promote energy efficiency. The natural beauty of our region is at the heart of what we love about Denver, and just because our federal government has turned its back on climate change doesn’t mean we can’t be bold and make an impact in Denver.
As our city grows and changes, it’s important to maintain and sustain open space, parks, community gardens, and places to experience the outdoors for all communities. I’ve been a strong voice for open space investments in major redevelopment areas, and I led the effort to fulfill the community’s vision of transforming a blighted area in Globeville into the Platte Farm Open Space for residents to safely enjoy. The vision will become a reality in 2019. I’ve supported increased funding for parks in past budgets, and I co-sponsored the sales tax for parks and open spaces that voters overwhelmingly passed in November of 2018. The measure will provide more than $40 million in new funding annually to maintain existing parks and buy land or improve new parks.
As a way to reduce our use of landfills, I have been a leading advocate for city-wide curbside composting, which is now available in every neighborhood. The next step is to ensure composting is available free to every household, along with incentives to recycle/compost that reduce the high volume of material going to the landfill that could have been diverted.
Climate, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency:
Over the past 30 years, Colorado’s annual average temperatures have increased by 2 degrees, and projections show the state’s average temperature could be five degrees higher by 2050. The growing damage to Colorado is palpably real: more extreme weather, harsher droughts, a shrinking water supply, increased wildfires, and depleted snowpack, all of which place industries like agriculture and outdoor recreation at risk. That is why I co-sponsored the proclamation in late 2018 to commit Denver to achieving 100% renewable energy across our community by 2030. It’s also why I participated in the development of Denver’s 80×50 plan to achieve an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
To achieve these ambitious goals, Denver must lead by example and accelerate the energy efficiency upgrades of our own building stock, utilizing unique financing that helps us pay back improvements over time through the savings of lower energy bills. We must also add electrical capacity and charging stations in our fleet buildings to speed up our transition to electric vehicles across city departments.
Renewable energy alone won’t protect the climate though, we have to reduce demand for energy by improving efficiency. One way I have encouraged increased efficiency is by helping create the Energize Denver ordinance, which requires large commercial and multifamily building owners to measure and publicly report their building’s energy performance.
In the first year of Energize Denver, 85% of buildings over 50,000 square feet complied. Just the act of measuring and reporting energy usage has resulted in owners taking steps to improve building energy efficiency and reduce energy use by 4.5% from 2015-2017. As the largest source of emissions within the City of Denver, improving building efficiency will help protect Denver’s quality of life and strengthen our economy. This is the first step to understanding and reducing energy consumption. The Green Roof Initiative passed by voters in 2017 was amended to include the important next step for building efficiency, which is to give buildings “credit” under the ordinance for improving a low energy score.
Denver doesn’t operate our current transit system, it is operated by the Regional Transportation District. But RTD has an exciting opportunity to commit to renewable and clean energy in its own fleet vehicles as technology improves. I’m committed to supporting their efforts wherever possible to make this transition a reality.