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Climate Commitment


Recognizing this is a critical time for our environment and our community for local climate action, Boulder has committed to transition to a clean energy and zero waste economy in ways that enhance our community’s resilience and support a vital and equitable economy. Work on Boulder’s Climate Commitment is organized into three primary work areas:

  1. Energy: Electrified and efficient vehicles and buildings powered by renewable energy.
  2. Resources: Sustainable consumption of materials, water and food.
  3. Ecosystems: Healthy, biodiverse and resilient ecosystems that capture atmospheric carbon and provide critical buffering against climate change.

In December 2016, City Council formally adopted goals to guide Boulder’s climate action efforts, including reducing community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% from 2005 levels by 2050; reducing emissions from city operations 80% below 2008 levels by 2030; and achieving 100% renewable electricity community-wide by 2030. The adopted goals also include progress indicators and targets for local renewable energy generation for key milestone years.

2018 Milestones 

  • Completed 2017 GHG showing a 16% savings in GHG emissions since 2005.
  • Conducted a community-wide “Ecosystems Summit.”
  • Launched a new carbon sequestration initiative with OSMP and external partners.
  • Building Performance Ordinance: Achieved 99% compliance, made updates to the requirements to better align with the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, and phased in 30,000 – 50,000 sf buildings.
  • Energy Impact Offset Fund: Began collecting fees from marijuana licensees, conducted stakeholder engagement, and awarded contract and began development of business plan for use of the fund.
  • Smartregs: Achieved over 90% compliance and developed plan for enforcement.
  • Resilient energy systems installed and operational at two critical facilities in Boulder.
  • EnergySmart: Continue to advise and provide rebates for efficiency and solar projects in Boulder; Launched a residential electrification pilot (Comfort365).
  • Solar on city facilities: A solar garden subscription was added to reduce emissions for two of the Rec centers; A request for proposals was issued to obtain bids to install up to 6 MW of solar on city facilities.
  • Universal Zero Waste Ordinance: Completed enforcement and compliance intake system.
  • 6400 Arapahoe: Identified unifying purpose, principles, and structure of partnership(s) to lay the foundation for future development at the site.

2019 Planned Actions 

In 2019, staff will continue to implement and improve the following core climate and energy programs:

  • Climate Commitment Funding: Conduct Nexus study for Vehicle Climate Impact Fee and develop proposed ballot language for possible natural gas consumption tax.
  • Building Performance Ordinance: Continue to achieve 100 percent compliance as more buildings are phased into the requirements (for energy reporting and efficiency in commercial and industrial buildings).
  • Climate Action Plan: Complete 2018 GHG Inventory, Council Study Session to provide a biennial update on Climate Commitment progress,
  • Energy Codes: Implementation and continued training for staff and the building community on current codes; continue development of next update (2020) of energy codes.
  • EnergySmart and Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE): Continue to Partner with Boulder County to provide rebates and advising services to homes and businesses.
  • Marijuana Energy Requirements: Continued tracking and enforcement of the requirements for marijuana business to offset 100% of their electricity consumption with renewable energy.
  • SmartRegs: Enforcement for the rental housing units that failed to meet the Dec, 31 2018 deadline. Debrief on lessons learned and options for future evolution of the program.
  • Universal Zero Waste Ordinance: Update city manager rules, improve enforcement processes and de-contamination strategies.
  • Building Electrification Pilot: Scale residential electrification pilot. Develop equitable electrification strategy and roadmap.
  • Boulder Energy Challenge (BEC): Explore external public and private partnerships to keep this program running since the CAP Tax budget can no longer support the BEC, and this has the lowest $/metric ton of any CAP Tax program.
  • Energy Impact Offset Fund (EIOF): Determine how the fund will be utilized to develop clean energy projects within city and county limits. Expand fund to other uses such as compliance with other energy ordinances, or voluntary carbon offsets.
  • City Facilities: Adopt resolution to require net-zero-ready construction for all new city facilities and major renovation projects; Add 6 MW of solar to city facilities.
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Work: Work with FAM to update city fleet policies; Expand DC fast charge availability.
  • 6400 Arapahoe: Identify site development opportunities, phasing and funding options for future development.
  • Food choice and wasted food: Initiate food choice education campaign, scale efforts to reduce wasted food.
  • Policy and PUC: Continue to intervene in key PUC proceedings and state and federal legislature.

Planned Actions Beyond 2019

Work will continue to evolve and expand around Energy, Resources and Ecosystems, and staff will update the Climate Commitment Document into a Climate Action Plan that fully integrates climate and energy work with resilience and equity goals. Staff will begin to implement and collect new vehicle and/or natural gas programs and fees and develop new programs to scale impact and emissions reduction. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure and building electrification will become top priorities, as well as increased efforts to reduce vehicle miles traveled. The city will launch new outreach and education campaigns around food choice. Fundraising efforts for 6400 Arapahoe will continue and scale.

Please visit the following sites for more information: 

Anticipated Council Action

  • January 2019 Study Session: Biennial update on Climate Commitment progress (including 2017 GHG Inventory), with a focus on Resources and Ecosystems.
  • May 2019: Proposed ballot item for natural gas consumption tax.
  • Q2 2019: Resolution for climate and energy requirements for city facilities (new builds and major renovations).
  • Q4 2019: Staff presents results of Nexus study and proposed a Vehicle Climate Impact Fee for council consideration and vote.
  • Late 2019: Study Session on the expansion of EIOF fund and updates to the Climate Commitment targets and action plan.

Information Packets providing updates and annual reports on core programs (SmartRegs, Energy Impact Offset Fund, Zero Waste Ordinance, 6400 Arapahoe) as needed.


Contact Information