Breckenridge annual sustainability report shows progress toward 2030 goal, room for improvement |

Breckenridge annual sustainability report shows progress toward 2030 goal, room for improvement

A lone aspen tree sits in the midst of lodgepole pines at the base of Peak 6 in Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 13. The Breckenridge Town Council on Tuesday, May 12, reviewed an annual sustainability report and discussed the environmental impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jason Connolly /

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that municipal waste increased in Breckenridge in 2019.

BRECKENRIDGE — To monitor the progress of the SustainableBreck Plan put out in 2011, Breckenridge Sustainability Coordinator Jessie Burley presented to town council members Tuesday an annual report that addresses 10 main areas of sustainability, from the local economy to forest health.

Some of the highlights in the report included the town providing $1,500 in rebates to home and business owners who installed rooftop solar, new glass recycling stations at Carter Park, a free food scrap drop-off at the recycling center and the addition of two electric buses to the Breckenridge FreeRide fleet. Other accomplishments included adding 11 deed restricted units through the Housing Helps program, acquiring 112 acres of open space and growing the Invest in Teachers program more than 13% from 2016 to 2019.

One of the main goals of SustainableBreck is for the town to have a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The report measured aspects of sustainability with color coding. For example, a green dot means the town is on track to meet the 2030 goal while a red dot means it is not. One of the red dots pointed out by council was solid waste, which saw a 6% increase in 2019 despite a goal to have a 20% reduction in total municipal waste by 2020. Some of this waste was attributed to construction waste.

Council member Kelly Owens asked if there was a way to incentivize more recycling at construction sites or require a certain percentage of materials to be recycled. Community Development Director Mark Truckey explained that most construction waste is not recyclable. Mayor Eric Mamula suggested talking with some larger construction companies that are focused on sustainability to find a solution.

During the sustainability discussion, Mamula asked town staff to measure the impact of decreased travel due to the coronavirus shutdown.

“We’ve always been told that transportation’s the big mover of the needle for our 2020 carbon reduction worldwide,” Mamula said. “What has happened? I would love to know, did we set the needle back a couple years?”

Truckey said the Earth is getting a “nice vacation” from daily human impacts during the shutdown. He said that some elements that have become normal during the shutdown, such as Zoom meetings, could be used in the future to decrease travel. 

“I think there’s a lot of opportunities, learned experiences from this whole ordeal,” Truckey said.

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