99 percent of Boulder’s emissions come from burning fossil fuels to produce electricity, provide heat and power our transportation system.
Transitioning to clean, local and renewable energy is our best opportunity to make a positive impact on climate change. Energy is Boulder’s primary climate focus at this time. While energy efficiency and related investments are essential to long-term impact, we need to fundamentally transform our energy system—electricity, gas, transportation fuels—to achieve our climate goals.
Looking for the latest on city climate and energy programs, goals and innovation? Check out our climate page.
Energy action areas and goals
Goal: By 2050, all buildings in Boulder will be high performance buildings.
The energy used to maintain Boulder’s more than 46,000 buildings accounts for two-thirds of our community’s total energy use. High performance buildings feature air-tight and insulated building envelopes that reduce the need for heating and cooling and ultimately, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By transforming Boulder’s building stock to high-performing buildings, we will reduce community emissions by more than 20 percent by the year 2050.
2015-2020 City Energy Action Priorities
Voluntary Education, Services and Incentives for Building Owners
• Continue to provide information, incentives and support for deep efficiency retrofits through energy advising programs like EnergySmart and > Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE).
• Support the use of newly developed clean energy financing mechanisms such as the Boulder County property-assessed clean energy financing program.
Building Efficiency Standards and Requirements
• Implement the Building Performance Ordinance that requires the largest commercial and industrial buildings to track and port energy use – and eventually to implement specific energy efficiency actions.
• Achieve 100 percent compliance in residential efficiency requirements for rental housing by 2019 through SmartRegs .
• Explore the potential for time-of-sale energy efficiency requirements for owner-occupied housing.
Piloting New Programs and Services
• Pilot integrated approaches to energy efficiency, solar energy installation and electric vehicle acquisition to create deep emission reduction pathways for Boulder households such as those being tested in two Boulder Energy Challenge funded projects (SNUGG Home pilot project, Solar +Storage pilot project).
Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management as Priorities of Municipal Utility
• Ensure that investments in aggressive energy efficiency measures are a core part of the resource planning, services plan and business model for a new municipal electric utility.
Infrastructure Assessment & Transition Planning
• Assist building owners in identifying clean energy alternatives to existing systems dependent on natural gas and create a retirement and replacement plan consistent with the normal replacement cycles of these systems.
• Use city facilities and other leading edge businesses and institutions to develop and test new clean energy systems and develop the technical and financial information needed to support broader scale adoption.
• Provide residences and businesses with solar capacity information for every building in the city through the current Mapdwell solar capacity analysis to encourage and facilitate more widespread installation of rooftop solar.
Clean Energy Future Design for New Buildings
• Manage and refine implementation of the Net Zero Building code compliance pathway with the goal of all new buildings achieving net zero emissions by 2031.
Goal: By 2050, people and goods will travel around Boulder generating little or no carbon emissions.
63,000 vehicles are registered in Boulder, and tens of thousands more commute in and out each day. Cleaning our mobility means transitioning away from single occupancy vehicles to walking and biking as well as shared transportation such as public transit, car share and van pools. The remaining personal and work vehicles will be powered by clean energy such as renewably produced electricity and alternative fuels such as hydrogen or fuel cells. By investing in clean mobility, we will reduce community emissions by 16 percent by the year 2050.
2015-2020 City Clean Mobility Action Priorities
Create multiple mobility options
• Expand access to transit including implementation of a community-wide EcoPass and expansion of Bus Rapid Transit routes.
• Expand ride share programs by adding additional incentives and support for expanded carpool/vanpool.
• Enhance bike and pedestrian travel options through creating protected bike lanes on key travel corridors and improved pedestrian efficiency through mobile route mapping.
Use digital technology to maximize our transportation efficiency
• Pilot and promote telework and other no-travel work options.
• Create enhanced mobility tools through development of new mobile applications for trip planning.
Create incentives to explore new mobility options
• Use parking management to encourage other travel options by creating financial incentives that reward commuters who don’t require daytime parking.
Support the adoption of electric vehicles and other non-fossil fuel mobility options for personal vehicles
• Collaboratively expand regional electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
• Implement electrification of city vehicle fleet.
• Co-organize Workplace Charging Challenge with other leading employers.
• Develop employee EV commuting pilot project.
Catalyze the development of non-fossil fuel transit systems
• Promote electrification/clean fuel options for the Regional Transportation District (RTD) transit fleet.
• Pilot clean energy transit on select local routes, especially the city’s “HOP” route.
Develop parking management systems that stimulate adoption of high efficiency mobility options
• Encourage parking management systems using the city’s “SUMP” (Shared, Unbundled, Managed, & Paid) principles.
• Create parking districts with enhanced mobility options e.g. car share, bike share, transit hubs.
Integrate mobility enhancements in land use planning
• Continue complete streets planning to provide safe and convenient travel options.
• Integrate mixed use development close to neighborhoods to provide walkable destinations for daily needs (15 minute neighborhoods).
Goal: By 2050, Boulder will be powered by 100 percent clean electricity.
Nearly all of Boulder’s energy and emissions come from burning fossil fuels. In addition to producing electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind, we will greatly reduce our use of natural gas and petroleum. The majority of residents and businesses will be able to participate in the production of this clean electricity and share in the resulting prosperity, well-being and resilience of Boulder. By cleaning our energy system, we will reduce community emissions by 43 percent by the year 2050.
2015-2020 City Clean Energy Action Priorities
Expansion of Energy Services
• Expand pilot projects funded through the Boulder Energy Challenge to create enhanced energy service offerings for residents and businesses which can integrate efficiency with on-site generation and natural gas and petroleum replacement strategies.
• Provide expanded demand side management services through implementation of the municipal utility.
Expansion of On-site Solar
• Work with Boulder County and other public institutions to launch group solar acquisition programs designed to lower the costs of ownership through collective purchase agreements. This expansion in residential and commercial on-site solar will help reduce the overall demand for electricity and the scale of renewable energy assets or purchases necessary to achieve emissions reductions.
• Assume operational authority and begin operations of an electric utility by early 2018. Explore opportunities to create financing mechanisms that support both energy efficiency and renewable generation development. These mechanisms could include on-bill financing and on-site generation incentives.
Local Generation Analysis
• Conduct a second stage analysis of additional on-site generation opportunities, including combined heat and power, heating/cooling district analysis and energy storage infrastructure development.
Natural Gas and Petroleum Replacement
• Evaluate options for replacing existing natural gas uses and infrastructure with renewable energy alternatives.
• Partner with Boulder County, BVSD, CU and the Federal labs to design and implement a comprehensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure that fosters larger scale adoption and use of electric vehicles as an alternative to petroleum-based transportation.
Nanogrid and Microgrid Development
• Work with both institutional and private sector partners to pilot projects integrating local energy system designs with alternative electricity distribution systems (Direct Current circuitry) to reduce energy use and costs and increase energy resilience. .
Energy Resilience Capacity Building
• Map critical community infrastructure and operations and identify opportunities to develop and deploy energy system upgrades that enable these sites to sustain operations during periods of power grid disruption. Create additional “safe haven” sites to ensure access to basic services for the entire community during periods of power system failure.