OSCAR Newsletter | November 2020

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.


November 2020

Welcome to Boulder County's Office of Sustainability, Climate Action, and Resilience (OSCAR) newsletter. This newsletter is emailed once a month and contains stories and information about our work and offers ways the public can get involved in sustainability and climate action initiatives.

Zero Waste and Boulder County



Director of Sustainability, Climate Action & Resilience, Boulder County

Lately, I've been noticing some positive signs that we are moving in the right direction. Given that 2020 has been so incredibly challenging, it’s thrilling to see some bright spots. One of those bright spots can be seen in our recently released Zero Waste Action Plan Scoring Report, which shows that our communities care deeply about reducing waste and conserving natural resources. Whether it’s through building healthy soils, keeping plastics out of the ocean, reducing pollution and emissions, or creating green jobs, zero waste strategies can foster a more sustainable and resilient Boulder County. 

This year, our team has been focusing on initiatives that promote a more circular economy in Boulder County. Below, Senior Sustainability Strategist, Tim Broderick, shares some recent highlights in our ambitious journey towards zero waste. — Susie

Zero Waste Scoring Report


We have much to celebrate regarding Boulder County’s progress on recycling, composting, and creating a circular economy: Boulder County has the best county-level residential and commercial recycling rate in Colorado, the City of Boulder has the best citywide residential and commercial recycling rate in Colorado, and Boulder County as a whole has completed more than a third of the recommended steps in the Zero Waste Action Plan Scoring Report.

Beyond these metrics and rankings, it's inspiring to see Boulder County communities taking actionable steps in moving towards zero waste:

  • Boulder released a Circular Economy Report to develop a holistic picture of materials being consumed, transformed, and wasted in Boulder.
  • Erie released its first sustainability plan and hired its first sustainability coordinator.
  • Jamestown continues to hold its annual reuse event where community members can bring items to be reused locally, with unclaimed items donated to nonprofits.
  • Lafayette set a waste reduction goal and hired its first sustainability coordinator.
  • Longmont expanded its drop-off center to accept white block foam and plastic bags for recycling. The city continues to expand its opt-in curbside composting service, with approximately 20% of residents participating in the program.
  • Louisville updated its residential trash and recycling contract to include composting at no additional charge.
  • Lyons opened a new Americans with Disabilities Act accessible drop-off recycling center and explored curbside recycling and composting services for all residents.
  • Nederland hired its first sustainability coordinator and began accepting food waste for composting.
  • Superior installed compost bins in all public parks and started a green business program.

Despite this progress, there is still more work to do. The Boulder County Zero Waste Action Plan Scoring Report found that nearly two-thirds of the materials sent to the landfill could have been recovered. This is the equivalent of saving 245,000 tons of carbon emissions (MTCO2e) annually — comparable to taking approximately 50,000 passenger cars off the road each year. The Scoring Report found that the three biggest opportunities we have to move the needle on these factors in Boulder County are: increasing recycling at businesses, improving access to composting at homes and businesses, and reducing and recovering more construction waste.

We still have a long road to travel if we want to create a truly circular economy, but systems of material recovery are currently available that can help our county divert a majority of the materials we consume from the landfill. This is a matter of working through how best to implement recycling and composting at every juncture where raw materials are consumed and disposed.

To meet this challenge, our team is working hard to advance programs and policies that bring our county closer to a circular economy. County-wide programs like Restore Colorado — facilitating local carbon farming and soil regeneration — and our recent EPA-funded program to reduce pollution from packaging by partnering with food and beverage manufacturing companies in Boulder County — are just a couple of ways we are innovating and reexamining how we consume and dispose of resources at every juncture in a lifecycle.  

The potential of this work is both daunting and exciting, but I look forward to working with our residents and communities in our shared journey towards zero waste. — Tim

EPA Recognition for Small Business Equity Program 

Earlier this year Boulder County, in partnership with the City of Boulder, created a Small Business Equity Program. This initiative, led by Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE), helps underrepresented small businesses save energy and money by replacing outdated restaurant and grocery equipment.

After receiving a PACE Small Business Equity Program grant, Asian Food Market in Boulder saved 60% on their utility bill and reduced their contribution to climate change by 50 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year by replacing outdated refrigerators and grocery equipment. 

“Without this grant there is no way we could have made this happen,” said Maria Nguyen (pictured), owner of Asian Food Market.

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Boulder County as an ENERGY STAR Day leader for this program. Read more here: boco.org/ENERGYSTARDay


Stay Warm and Help Protect the Planet

Want to make your home more sustainable while decreasing indoor air pollutants? EnergySmart, Boulder County’s residential sustainability program, can answer your questions about installing a Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pump.

A heat pump system powered by grid electricity will reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by 20-60% — Boulder County’s energy grid is about 30% renewable and getting greener every year.

For more information on heat pump energy efficiency and their ability to work in the middle of winter, check out the WePower FAQ page  or watch the below video to see one Boulder family's experience switching from natural gas to an air source heat pump.

EnergySmart advisors can help you decide if a heating upgrade may be right for you. Call 303.544.1000 or visit www.EnergySmartYES.com to learn more.


Boulder County Launches Restore Colorado Pilot

With support from the USDA, Boulder County is collaborating with Mad Agriculture, Zero Foodprint, and other local governments to launch Restore Colorado, a pilot program that confronts climate change by building connections between farmers and restaurants to incentivize regenerative soil practices.

“This program gives me hope that citizens, businesses, farmers, scientists and governments can come together and tackle climate change while improving the food system,” said Anthony Myint, Zero Foodprint co-founder. “As restaurants move toward reopening in 2021, Restore Colorado is a chance to create a new normal that tackles climate change with healthy soil on local farms. This program is all about optimism and action. We can actually eat our way out of the climate crisis.”

Restaurants, farms, and agricultural producers interested in participating can visit boco.org/RestoreColorado to learn more.


Act Now for 2020 Electric Vehicle Tax Credits 

Boulder County supports community members’ adoption of electric vehicles because they offer many benefits to owners, community public health, air quality, and the climate. 

Want to give the gift of clean air this holiday season? Buy an electric car and you help give all Coloradans cleaner air. The clock is ticking – buy an electric car in 2020 and get up to $11,500 in tax credits. This amount drops after December 31st this year. 

Visit boco.org/ElectricVehicles to see which tax credits and incentives you could qualify for.


Recent News


Boulder County receives EPA grant for source reduction program

Boulder County is one of 11 selectees nationwide to receive an Environmental Protection Agency Source Reduction Assistance grant. This $105,000 grant will facilitate partnerships with Boulder County manufacturers to accelerate more sustainable food and beverage processing and packaging practices. Read more in the Longmont Times-Call.


State of Recycling & Composting in Colorado report released

Eco-Cycle released its State of Recycling and Composting in Colorado 2020 report. See which cities, towns, and counties earned gold and silver medals for recycling efforts and data tracking by reading the full report here.

Air Quality and Public Health

Record-breaking Wildfires & Ozone: What Boulder County Is Doing About it

2020 has been Colorado’s worst fire season on record due to climate change-fueled high temperatures and drought. As we fight a respiratory virus, wildfire smoke has exacerbated the poor air quality that we already experience due to ozone pollution. Boulder County is working to address these threats through state-level air quality policy on several fronts:

  • On November 12, Boulder County, Colorado Communities for Climate Action (CC4CA), and the City of Denver sent a comment letter to the Colorado Energy Office on its Greenhouse Gas Roadmap emphasizing that disproportionately impacted communities and sector specific emissions limits must be top priorities for the state’s climate action now and in the future.
  • On November 20, the Air Quality Control Commission concluded the Regional Haze rulemaking hearing where the Commissioners voted to accelerate the early retirement of three units at coal-fired power plants in Colorado. The Commission also directed the Air Pollution Control Division to bring forward a proposal for earlier retirement of two units operated by Xcel Energy. CC4CA, including Boulder County, was a party to this rulemaking.
  • On November 23, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission updated its mission and rules, including defining new relationships between state and local government, addressing cumulative impacts by developing a new program with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, establishing setbacks for well locations, establishing a streamlined permitting process that incentivizes landscape level planning, reorganizing rules using updated language to ensure accessibility, enacting a prohibition on routine flaring or venting, and increasing protections for wildlife. Boulder County’s Community Planning and Permitting department was a party in this rulemaking.

Want to voice your opinion? Here are some ways the public can get involved:

  • December 1, 2020 at 4 p.m. – Virtual public hearing for the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners to receive public testimony on proposed Boulder County oil and gas regulations. For more information and to register to speak or attend, click here.
  • December 16 - 18, 2020 – Air Quality Control Commission rulemaking hearing affecting ozone and greenhouse gas pollution from oil and gas and transportation. Boulder County Public Health is co-leading a local government coalition that includes CC4CA, Denver, Aurora, and Commerce City as a party to the rulemaking. This party is pushing for a more robust ozone plan and greater emissions reductions for pneumatic devices used at oil and gas operations. Ozone is a high priority area given the continued nonattainment problem, the high number of air quality action alert days we experience each summer, and this summer’s record breaking wildfire season. Register to attend this virtual hearing at https://cdphe.colorado.gov/aqcc.

Meet the Team

Denise Grimm, PACE Business Sustainability Advisor 

What do you like most about your job? Being a part of a team that truly cares about the community we serve. Meeting so many business owners and their staff who are really engaged in addressing climate change.

Hometown? I am the quintessential army brat. I was born in Germany and lived in 3 different towns/tours there, as well as lived in over 12 cities in 8 U.S. states. I am proud to call Colorado my “forever” home.

Hobbies? Gardening, dabbling in art, and spending lots of time hiking in beautiful Colorado spaces with my husband and our two furry kids.

Favorite book? No favorite currently, though when I was younger my favorite book was Stephen King’s The Stand.

Favorite movie? Tough question, so many!  In lieu of a movie, how about I share one of my favorite TED talks, given by Stacey Abrams in late 2018 after her defeat in Georgia’s gubernatorial election: 3 questions to ask yourself about everything you do.

What are you reading right now? I just finished reading a Woman-Powered Farm: Manual for a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle from Homestead to Field, by Audrey Levatino.

Favorite musician? I have somewhat eclectic music interests. Right now I find myself listening to singer/songwriters such as Blind Pilot, and a local favorite I watched perform last year, wife/husband duo Strangebyrds.

Events Calendar

Board of County Commissioners Virtual Public Hearing

December 1, 2020

4:00 PM

Board of County Commissioners to receive public testimony on proposed Boulder County oil and gas regulations.

For more information and to sign up to speak or attend, click here.

Boulder County 2021 Sustainable Food and Agriculture Fund Program Application Opens

December 2, 2020

Application opens for funding of sustainability-focused initiatives that address the priority needs of local farmers and agricultural producers.

Colorado Air Quality Control Commission Rulemaking Hearing

December 16 - 18, 2020

Hearing will address ozone and greenhouse gas pollution from oil and gas and transportation.

Register to attend  here.