Donating one week of carbon emissions
April 20, 2011
This Earth Week, officials with the Colorado Carbon Fund aim to raise money by encouraging individuals, businesses and organizations to donate the equivalent of a week’s worth of transportation and energy use. One-hundred dollars offsets about five metric tons of carbon, fund program manager Hillary Dobos said. To put that in perspective, that’s about what a passenger vehicle emits annually, or what’s sequestered by 128 seedlings growing for 10 years, or the carbon processed each year by an acre of pine forest.About $10 offsets a week’s worth of individual work and home, travel and food-to-plate energy use, fund spokeswoman Suzanne Pletcher said, which means a family of four would be about $40. For businesses, about $100 covers an office of about 15-20 employees. Every dollar received means a dollar is spent on building a clean energy project. Recognition of the participants will occur at a reception at the governor’s mansion in Denver on June 24, at which point the results of the campaign will be announced, Dobos said. Prior to the main campaign time frame, about $3,000 had been raised, which covers about 140 metric tons of carbon.That shows that the project, in its first year, is already successful, Dobos said. “We’re attracting businesses that haven’t worked with us before, so I’d say it’s a big success,” she said. Nearby projects in the pipeline for consideration include an application for a sewage treatment project in Clear Creek County as well as Summit and Eagle county proposals for a pellet boiler and geothermal.”There are many other projects in our pipeline from mountain and Western Slope communities, including biomass, anaerobic digestion waste-to-energy and coal mine methane capture,” fund spokeswoman Suzanne Pletcher said. “We’re always looking for new projects,” Dobos said. The problem is, there’s a long list of potential clean energy projects and the fund only goes so far. So far, the branch of the Governor’s Energy Office that was founded in 2007 has helped several solar hot water projects and a landfill project. The fund was started as a mechanism to help Colorado reach its target of 30 percent renewable and clean energy by 2020. Statistics show that the fund has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state by more than 54 million pounds through the five funded projects. Dobos said donations have come in from individuals throughout Summit County, among about a 1,000 others across the state. This year, the Steamboat Springs Community Center goes on line with solar hot water thanks to the fund. The 2-panel Viessman solar system will provide power for hot water consumed by the facility’s commercial kitchen, where volunteers work four days a week to prepare 6,000 meals annually for area senior citizens and the Meals on Wheels program. Overall, the system should power 56 percent of the hot water throughout the facility. It joins an existing solar system that provides a rollback on the metered electricity. Steve Hoot, sustainability coordinator for the City of Steamboat Springs, said it’s the first time the city has implemented a greenhouse gas offset project. The project not only saves on energy costs. The public can learn through a permanent solar water system display at the center. “Our goal is to start with a small project to gain the experience needed to develop and implement larger greenhouse gas offset projects in the future,” he said. Dobos said projects are selected based on having the most carbon reductions “for the buck.” In general, projects addressing landfills, coal mine methane and anaerobic digestion have the most impact, she added.