Parks irrigation program shows results, yet much left to do

Over the last two years, a Colorado Springs Utilities irrigation efficiency program has helped City of Colorado Springs Parks conserve 6,510,922 CF of water annually saving the City $203,000. The Colorado Springs Utilities retrofit investment of nearly $490,000 dollars has an estimated payback period of less than 3 years resulting in a 5-year return on investment of 141%. If well maintained and used appropriately, these upgrades have the potential to provide economic and water savings value long into the future. Yet, these retrofits represent about 25% of the irrigated parks system, leaving more than 100 parks still in need of irrigation efficiency improvements. Even with continued support from Colorado Springs Utilities it may be years before all of the City’s parks are able to be addressed. 

Colorado Springs sees first community solar gardens and EV charging stations

Two big firsts have come to Colorado Springs in the last few weeks  – our first community solar garden broke ground and our first electric vehicle (EV) charging station opened. Both events were open to the community and celebrated as steps to a more sustainable future garden. The SunShare solar garden is located at Venetucci Farms. A second community solar garden company, Clean Energy Collective, also plans to break ground by the end on the year utilizing the closed Templeton Gap Landfill site. Through solar gardens such as this, any resident can replace the coal-fired energy that they are responsible for with renewable energy. And, with an electric vehicle, drivers can also offset the electricity they use to charge their cars. If a driver needs to charge a vehicle while out and about, they can now do so while shopping, taking in a movie or having dinner at one of two EV charging stations located at the Nor'wood Development Group’s First & Main Town Center in front of the Cinemark Theater. The Norwood and Colorado Springs Utilities EV charging station partnership will be used to gather data on use patterns for future electricity grid planning.

Local development, Gold Hill Mesa, receiving state-wide attention for sustainable development initiatives

Last month, the Gold Hill Mesa development project and adjacent award-winning Fountain Creek restoration (in partnership with the City and State) at Gold Hill Mesa were showcased at the Brownfield Conference in Denver. Attendees included real estate professionals, government officials, municipal planners, and business professionals interested in learning about opportunities for economic revitalization. Gold Hill Mesa developer, Bob Willard, spoke about overcoming challenges and accomplishing community reinvestment through perseverance, partnerships, and creative partnering. He also covered the development’s pedestrian-friendly traditional neighborhood design, low-water use landscaping, and future plans for mixed-use and commercial development. The presentation came on the heels of one of the community’s homes built by G.J. Gardner being awarded designation as the first WaterSense-certified home in Colorado. It’s also Colorado Spring’s first Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes house and Energy Star-certified. A photo tour of the home is currently hosted on the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Web site. In the last few weeks the project has also been featured at the Colorado Sustainability Conference, Colorado Energy Star Summit and in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Colorado Chapter e-newsletter.

There's something in the air along new Proby Parkway

The next time you drive the almost-complete Proby Parkway, look up. Those streetlights, approximately 200 of them, use high efficiency LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting. At night you may notice that the light allows for truer colors (a public safety benefit) and that the fixtures are compatible with dark sky concepts (better for stargazing and nocturnal animals). The initial cost for these streetlights is higher than traditional streetlights. Yet, the long-term cost is lower due to their extended lifetime (three times as long, if not longer, which means lower operations costs) and a 50 percent reduction in energy requirements. If, while driving, you happen to look down, you’ll see a road that also used 60,000 tons of recycled, crushed concrete as underground aggregate and pavement made with 20% (180,000 square yards) recycled asphalt.

Draft Regional Sustainability Plan seeks public feedback

Through Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), City staff have been participating in a Pikes Peak Regional Sustainability Project for El Paso and Teller counties since late 2010. The project has involved over 70 organizations and individuals in our region who collectively attended more than 49 public meetings (pictured) and contributed more than 1,000 professional hours. The plan includes an assessment of current conditions, 20-year sustainability “stretch goals”, and strategies to help our community achieve those goals.The resulting draft Pikes Peak Regional Sustainability Plan is now available for public review. Public comments is encouraged through Dec. 23 and PPACG staff are eager to provide presentations to interested groups.  PPACG anticipates finalizing the plan in January 2012.    

City vehicles sport "We Share Our Road" message

About a year ago, a disparate group of road users started meeting to come up with ways to make roads in and around Colorado Springs safer for all. The Colorado Department of Transportation chose our community and Fort Collins as the “guinea pigs” in this process. The group discussed accident data and tried to come up with ways to inform all users with a vision for Colorado Springs that is more pedestrian, cyclist and motorcycle friendly. This collaboration led to a recommendation for the City’s use of shared lane markings, the pictured bumper sticker and other educational materials that express how here in Colorado Springs, “We Share Our Road.” The bumper stickers were available at community events this year. To show support for the group’s efforts and increase awareness, select City vehicles also now sport the bumper stickers. To get your own bumper sticker you can pick one up from MetroRides at 1015 Transit Drive, Colorado Springs 80903, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, while supplies last.

TreeCycle those Christmas Trees

Each year the City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department is happy to support our community’s local Christmas tree recycling program. For $5 (your donation supports community youth programs) residents can drop off their de-decorated trees over two weekends, Dec. 31 & Jan. 1 and Jan. 7 & 8 for recycling. The trees are ground into mulch, which is then made available on-site for reuse by the general community. Choose from one of seven sites between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Click here for maps, extended hours and mulch pick-up information. 

Therapeutic Recreation Program decorates recycle bins for City facilities

The City of Colorado Springs has cardboard barrels that any organization can have free to help launch an indoor recycling program. But there’s a catch… the barrels just look like, well, boring cardboard. Thanks to the City’s Therapeutic Recreation Program, the next City facility that integrates recycling is going to benefit from decorated bins.  The City’s Therapeutic Recreation Program provides opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities to acquire skills that enable them to participate in leisure experiences and enhance their abilities to function within a community setting. Painting the bins was a way for program participants to give a holiday gift back to the Colorado Springs community.

What can the QLI tell us about Colorado Springs sustainability? City Green Bag Lunch-n-Learn Thursday, Dec. 15

On Thursday, Dec. 15, the City of Colorado Springs will host a Green Bag Lunch-n-Learn presentation on the 2011 Quality of Life Indicators Report for the Pikes Peak Region (QLI).  Presenter Stella Hodgkins will cover the latest data on how Colorado Springs and our region is performing with particular emphasis in the natural environmental preservation, land use, pollution, recycling and public transportation topic areas. The QLI is an unbiased, objective compilation of facts and statistics that measure the nebulous concept of quality of life. The lunch-n-learn runs over the noon lunch hour, from 12:11 to 12: 49 p.m., at the City Administration Building, 30 S. Nevada, in Suite 102. Attendees are encouraged to bring and enjoy their lunches during the presentation - all have the chance to win a tote bag made from reused City banners. Questions? Contact City of Colorado Springs Sustainability Coordinator Carrie McCausland, 719-385-CSGN (2746) or cmccausland@springsgov.com.

Going Greener:


Environmental Sustainability E-Newsletter from the City of Colorado Springs

Question? (719) 385-CSGN (2746) or cmccausland@springsgov.com.

This e-newsletter funded by the State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs and City of Colorado Springs.