Yampa Valley group calls for strategic plan to strengthen economy through sustainable energy practices | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa Valley group calls for strategic plan to strengthen economy through sustainable energy practices

— The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council hosted an energy roundtable in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday that focused on creating economic development by promoting clean energy in the region.

One of the themes of the roundtable centered on retrofitting existing buildings to make them more sustainable from an energy standpoint, thereby making businesses and institutions occupying those buildings more fiscally stable and profitable while creating employment for local contractors and subcontractors whose paychecks tend to recirculate in the local economy.

"How does a dollar saved on a utility bill spread through the economy?" speaker Sam Jones asked rhetorically. "Companies that operate with lower overhead (energy expenses) are more viable and competitive. There is a 2.25 multiplier on every dollar spent on economic efficiency: $1 turns into $2.25, and the money remains locally."

Jones praised the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County governments for the dramatic reductions they've made in consumption of natural gas and kilowatt-hours of electricity but quickly added that the initiative needs to be exported throughout the community.

"Our city and government buildings are doing a great job," Jones said. "We need a broader stakeholder group to make this work."

Steamboat Springs City Council member Sonja Macys said Steamboat Springs and Routt County need a communitywide economic development plan that includes standards allowing for measurable results.

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The roundtable also was the occasion to introduce the Lakewood-based nonprofit International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology, iCast Colorado, which will be launching a pilot program here to help stimulate energy retrofits with the help of its ability to leverage grant funding and provide detailed construction-management services.

There also were roundtable discussions among attendees exploring how the Garfield Clean Energy Collaborative has made strides in the nearby towns of Parachute, Rifle, New Castle, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale in Garfield County.

Finally, those in attendance were asked to sign a pledge to support energy efficiency and economic development in Routt County.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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