Green Team receives support

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The city of Steamboat Springs' recent effort to promote environmental initiatives is receiving support from local organizations.

The City Council recently voted to give $20,000 to the city's Green Team, a volunteer organization of about a dozen city staff members. The Green Team formed this fall at the suggestion of City Manager Paul Hughes.

In addition to city staff support, the Green Team is working with residents, businesspeople and organizations such as Yampa Valley Recycles.

Craig Schifter, chairman of Yampa Valley Recycles, said the group volunteered to help the Green Team. The two groups send representatives to meetings and exchange agendas and minutes. Schifter also is serving on the team's recycling subcommittee.

The groups have some overlapping plans, but the Green Team's goals include recycling as only one of many initiatives, team chairman Gavin Malia said.

"Increasing recycling is just one piece of the puzzle," Malia said. Other goals include promoting renewable energy, encouraging green building design and educating the public.

Schifter said the recycling organization, which receives funding from Routt County and the city, thinks collaboration among groups is essential.

"Right now, I can't see it any other way. Green efforts? It's all about cooperation," Schifter said.

Malia agreed.

"That's the reality of the stuff we're working on: Everything is connected," Malia said. "We want to improve all systems, not only for the organization but also for the community."

The Green Team also wants to find a way to use renewable energy to offset the electricity needs for Centennial Hall, which comprises about 6 percent of the city's electricity use in a year.

One option is under negotiation. Green Team members have spoken with officials from the Upper Yampa Water Conser-vancy District about purchasing hydropower from the Stagecoach Dam & Reservoir.

The other option is to use wind energy. To do this, city officials would purchase "green tags." Buying the tags does not necessarily mean the direct purchase of wind energy; instead, the tags are shares in renewable energy. The money used to purchase the tags will go toward the addition or expansion of wind farms in Colorado.

Both options cost more than using regular energy, Malia said, but the energy that is used will be clean. Also, the effort would support renewable energy produced in Colorado and the demand for that energy.

Green Team members agreed that Centennial Hall would be the best choice for using renewable energy as a public education and outreach example.

"Centennial Hall is one of our most public facilities; it was built for the community," Malia said. "We felt that it would be a showpiece."

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