Breckenridge Town Council assesses energy use of new parking structure |

Breckenridge Town Council assesses energy use of new parking structure

Skiers walk to their cars at Breckenridge's newest parking garage at the South Gondola Lot on Saturday. Business owners have asked Breckenridge Town Council to address its energy usage.
Andrew Maciejewski/Summit Daily News

As part of an effort to encourage local builders and developers to adopt more sustainable standards for their projects, Breckenridge Town Council discussed one of the larger public energy-users in the town that was built before the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program was put into place: the new parking garage at the South Gondola Lot.

In recent weeks, council members have met with the building community about a potential new outdoor energy mitigation plan. The goal of this plan would be to more closely regulate the use of outdoor energy in amenities like heated driveways, outdoor fireplaces and hot tubs and the carbon pollution they emit. The code aims to maximize energy efficiency, air quality and water conservation in an effort to work toward goals outlined in the Summit Community Climate Action Plan, which include reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. Breckenridge Town Council voiced support in the countywide plan back in July, but it would require amendments to the town code to fully adopt the plan.

“One of the things (builders) very strongly asked us was that we follow our own rules as well, and that we hold ourselves to the same high standards,” council member Kelly Owens said Tuesday, March 22. “And one one thing that’s creating a lot of consternation in the building community right now is the energy use of the parking garage, which was built under different codes.”

The garage — which includes several hundred parking spots and 22 charging locations for electric vehicles — broke ground on construction in June of 2020 and was finished by November of 2021. Because the plans for the garage were executed before the new environmental code was proposed, it does not have to follow it, but Town Council members agreed that it would send a good message to building and real estate communities to come up with a way to offset the parking structure’s energy use.

One of the options for builders, according to the energy mitigation program, would be to pay in-lieu fees in situations where developers can’t build enough renewable energy systems to offset the energy that a particular development uses. These fees are used to fund other environmental programs in the community. Owens said the town is considering a similar payment for the garage.

According to the building plan for the parking structure, there is 30,270 square feet of heated sidewalks and pavement in the garage. According to the commercial property draft calculator for the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program that calculates the in-lieu fees for projects, based on the area of heated technology installed into the sidewalks, the town would pay $3.48 million in fees for the energy use in the structure. For the same square footage on a residential structure, that cost would be $1.96 million.

“I think many of us feel that what we really want to do is what’s right, not just be consistent with the code,” Owens said. “We were thinking of some seed money for our sustainability programs that would be a meaningful amount, like in the $1 million to $2 million range, into programs like what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years with Solarize Summit, which is giving some money to people who are willing to put up solar panels.”

Council members and proponents of the energy plan will continue to meet with the building community to ensure they get feedback throughout the draft process.

“I feel like what I heard was the building community was glad to be able to give input and, as the details are figured out, continue to be able to give input on the calculator, the different details of the ordinance,” council member Carol Saade said. “Of course, the conversation went into our sustainable building code. We received several letters from builders, and I think overall, one of the themes I heard is these builders do care about sustainable goals but want to be able to navigate the system.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.