Summit County working toward more sustainable environmental impact |

Summit County working toward more sustainable environmental impact

summit daily news

BRECKENRIDGE – Summit County commissioners discussed at a recent work session the use of a sustainability action plan to reduce the government’s impact on the environment.

Commissioner Thomas Davidson said that in a time of tight budgets that could last two to three more years, he wanted to make sure the plan was prudent with regard to costs.

“I don’t want to see these sorts of efforts in the county to turn into some sort of bureaucracy,” he said.

The 81-page Sustainability Action Plan proposal outlines goals toward waste prevention and increased recycling, sustainable purchasing of products and services, education and more.

Proposed goals include reducing energy use in county facilities 5 percent and increasing clean, renewable energy sources 10 percent by 2012. It also calls for an increase of alternative transportation for county-employee commutes of 10 percent by 2012.

Commissioner Bob French said that implementing some of the cheaper elements will “show folks that we’re accomplishing something.”

“I expect this to be a living document for many years to come,” he said.

Commissioners decided that rather than wade through 81 pages in a work session, discussions are to continue with staff on how to implement the plan.

Finances from the Measure 1A tax levy that passed in November 2008 could be used for energy-efficiency improvements and renewable energy at county facilities, among other county needs.

A committee of more than 20 people across county departments cooperated on the Summit County Government Sustainability Task Force to develop the proposed plan.

Priorities for 2010 and 2011 include conducting energy audits for any county facilities that haven’t yet been audited, reducing paper consumption, conducting an employee commuter survey and more.

Statements from 2007 reveal that that year, the Summit County Medical Office Building used $167,000 worth of electricity and natural gas, according to the proposal.

Energy efficiency upgrades to county buildings in recent years have included lighting, building-envelope improvements and more.

“Replacing all lighting fixtures recommended by (Johnson Controls, Inc.) would result in an estimated annual savings of 148,118 watts of electricity and an estimated annual cost savings of $47,302,” according to the proposal.

Regarding waste diversion, the proposal calls for mirroring the state government’s goal of 75 percent waste diversion by 2020.

“This means that, by the year 2020, 75 percent of the waste generated by (Summit County government) operations would be diverted from the county landfill by reduction, reuse, recycling or composting strategies,” according to the proposal.

A June 2009 survey of county departments found that two-thirds were already using procedures to save paper and reduce waste. For more information on the proposal, visit

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