photo by Steven Goddard (https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/why-do-i-do-this/ )
Denver is one of the country’s fastest growing cities. Millenials are moving here by the droves, drawn in because of the booming job market (and legal marijuana). The weather and plethora of outdoor activities have made Denver an attractive place to live for a long time. But all of this growth is taking a toll on the environment, so the city (and several groups within the city and beyond) are stepping up to make Denver a leader in the sustainability movement. As you can see by the photo above, the city still has a lot of work to do. Here are some ways Denver is striving to ‘go green’-
1. Denver Water On-Board Early On
Denver Water, the city’s water utility, has taken a transparent approach to addressing climate change. The seven hydropower plants produce, in most years, enough clean hydropower to operate the city’s potable water distribution system. Denver Water also has an employee-led ‘Green Team’ that works towards small-scale energy efficiency projects, conducts and inventory of greenhouse gas emissions each year, and works to enhance recycling and water-use efficiency in the city.
2. Cutting back Co2 levels to pre-Colorado Rockies levels
Denver released its initial Climate Action Plan in 2007, making it one the first major cities in the country to formally address climate change. The city is currently working towards its’ 2020 Sustainability Goals to reduce CO2 emissions to pre-1990 levels (which if accomplished will be a major feat considering how much the metro area has grown since then) and help at least 40% of workers living in so-called ‘transit deserts’ (areas without access to the city’s public transportation) be able to get to work without driving alone. A modified Climate Action Plan was released in 2015 by governor John Hickenlooper.
3. Finally, we can take the train
The local public transit organization, RTD, will be opening four new light rail lines in 2016- including the long-awaited train to Denver International Airport. They will also begin operation of the Flatiron Flyer, an improved bus service from Denver to Boulder which seeks to cut down traffic on the ever-clogged Highway 36.
4. The rise of urban gardening
Denver Urban Gardens continues work to grow the nearly 150 urban gardens in the city limits, slowly increasing the availability of locally-grown produce to residents without the means to plant a garden at home.
5. Bike Lanes galore
Denver has put in place an aggressive series of bike lanes running along major streets downtown, increasing the viability of biking downtown for work and play and providing bike racks to accompany. All over the city and in many of the suburbs, bike lanes have become much more common over the last few years.
6. Modern eco-friendly living
There are mixed opinions on the hordes of new apartment complexes and high-end condos going up all over town, but a look on the inside provides at least a glimmer of hope- many of these developments boast ‘green living’ (try searching green living Denver on Google) and while that may be an overstatement, it is not uncommon to see single-stream recycling, bike maintenance facilities and storage, floor plan designs that maximize the energy usage inside the home.
7. Eco-festivals are starting to call this city home
The city hosted the Americas Latino Eco Festival in October, 2015. The festival brought together leaders from leading organizations with Latino constituencies and environmental mandates to calls for an integrated local and national conservation agenda committed to advancing Latino's connection with nature and experience of the outdoors that in turn may inspire future stewardship of our natural resources.