High Country Conservation Center work reduced carbon footprint, boosted energy savings in Summit County | SummitDaily.com

High Country Conservation Center work reduced carbon footprint, boosted energy savings in Summit County

Solar panels on the roof of a home. The High Country Conservation Center helped 82 homeowners install solar panels at a discount during summer 2019. Those panels will wind up generating 564 kilowatts of electricity annually.
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BRECKENRIDGE — At the Summit Board of County Commissioners weekly work session Tuesday, the High Country Conservation Center presented the commissioners with a report on work it did in the third quarter of 2019. The center reported meeting or approaching most of its goals for helping Summit residents and businesses with energy efficiency projects and solar power initiatives meant to help the county reach its goal of zero waste and 80% carbon emissions reduction by 2050.

Jess Hoover, climate action director for the conservation center, outlined what the organization had accomplished since the beginning of the year.

As part of the Energy Smart Colorado program aimed at improving residential energy efficiency, Hoover reported 138 home energy assessments completed in Summit County this year out of 142 targeted for the year. The home energy assessment involves a technician checking the overall energy efficiency of a residential unit, which could include a pressure test, infrared temperature check for air leaks, electric and water fixture check, and other methods of evaluating efficiency.

Throughout the county, 45 homeowners opted to proceed with home energy efficiency projects, which is short of the conservation center’s goal of completing 74 projects. The projects included the free distribution of 1,376 LED bulbs.

Hoover said homeowners who completed home energy efficiency projects were saving an average of $475 annually with the improvements. Hoover estimated that the projects kept nearly 100,000 pounds worth of carbon out of the air.

High Country Conservation Center’s Resource Wise program, an energy assessment and certification program that awards local businesses for practicing sustainability, signed up 35 businesses this year, well above the nonprofit’s goal of 23. The center also completed sustainability projects for 23 businesses, meeting its annual goal.

Hoover said the most significant venture this year was the Solarize Summit program, which offered homeowners discounted solar panels through a bulk purchasing agreement.

In total, 82 homeowners signed solar contracts, which will generate 564 kilowatts worth of solar power after installation. That is quadruple the amount of solar power installed in 2018. That comes out to a countywide investment of $1.76 million into solar power this year, lowering county carbon emissions by an estimated 965,977 pounds.

Looking forward to 2020, the conservation center plans to host more educational workshops, including workshops on building code updates for the building and construction community. It also plans to apply for more grants to bolster the county’s electric vehicle infrastructure, and to reevaluate existing programs and expand them.

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