Breckenridge business owner hosts national biodiesel conference | SummitDaily.com

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Breckenridge business owner hosts national biodiesel conference

Breeana Laughlin/blaughlin@summitdaily.com

Collective Biodiesel Conference mixer

The Collective Biodiesel Conference free community mixer will be held at Colorado Mountain College on Thursday, Aug. 15., at 4 p.m. Speaker Don Scott will present “The Most Sustainable Fuel on the Planet” at 6 p.m. A screening of the film “Empowered: Power from the People” will take place at 6:30 p.m., and a panel discussion will start at 7:30.

Summit Greasecycling owner Dara Lor said he's come a long way in the last five years, from sitting at the back of the room at the Collective Biodiesel Conference, afraid to ask a dumb question, to becoming a major player and host of the collaborative event.

Biodiesel enthusiasts from around the country will gather at the Collective Biodiesel Conference, coming to Breckenridge next week.

"Getting the recognition of being a player and having something to contribute to the industry is really fulfilling," Lor said. "It's definitely a milestone to see your mentors and your peers have questions for you."

This week's conference serves as a landmark for the local business owner, who first got into biodiesel as a hobby. Now, he and his partner, Dan Fernandez, collect used kitchen oil from hundreds of Colorado kitchens and refine it to become ClearEcos biodiesel. They also turn biodiesel byproducts into a co-product through the Summit Soap Co.

Graydon Blair, a Collective Biodiesel Conference founder, said Lor is a great example of what the conference is all about. "He came to one of our first conferences, and took the ideas he learned and integrated it into his business."

The conference serves as a catalyst for individuals who want to make their own biodiesel or take it to nice level, Blair said.

Lor said he always looks forward to the conference to see what his counterparts have been up to over the past year.

"It's exciting to pool everyone's work together and see how it's being used throughout the industry," he said.

The conference focuses on community-scale biodiesel production, rather than large commercial operations. Members said this allows them to address specific needs.

"They are all unique situations with unique solutions," Lor said.

Lor, who lives in Summit County, said he's impressed with caliber of people who are creating biodiesel throughout the country. "It's a great group of smart, motivated people."

The values these people represent are noteworthy, he said. "Putting people first and the planet before profit is difficult. But there is a lot of intrinsic value that goes into these things. Money to us is a product of doing the job right."

Summit residents can plug into the conference at a free community mixer at Colorado Mountain College on Thursday. The mixer will include a short film, "Empowered: Power from the People," and a panel discussion.

Jessie Burley, an adjunct instructor for CMC's sustainability program, said the conference offers students an opportunity to learn about a potential career and meet leaders in the biodiesel industry.

"It's a great way to learn not only about biodiesel — but also if you have an idea to make the community more sustainable, how can you take action and grow it into something bigger," Burley said.

Lor said he got into the biodiesel industry because it's simple and it makes sense. "Everybody can do this, and everybody can be a part of this. It's a lot easier than you think. So it's a great educational opportunity for the community to realize what we have in our backyard."

Lor said he thinks it's about time more people utilize the resource. "Biodiesel is the most viable alternative transportation fuel that we have," he said. "We are constantly looking for something else. But why are we always searching for something else when we aren't even using what we found?"

Blair, conference founder and owner of Utah Biodiesel Supply, said he thinks people get into the field for several reasons. The first, he said, is that it's cheaper than buying diesel at the pump. The second is for independence from foreign oil.

"I wanted to give Exxon the finger," he said.

It's also a renewable energy that produces less pollution than oil, he pointed out.

Lor said he makes biodiesel because it makes sense. "This is a people thing. It's not about saving the trees. It's really about preserving our way of life — and the standard of leaving things the same or better.

"For me it's been a really neat life opportunity — a way for me to contribute to something I really love. During the conference I really hope people can be educated locally and see it's not a hippy thing we're doing here."