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Staff highlighted building electrification, renewable energy and electric vehicle projects.

The city is hosting three virtual information sessions this summer, each with the goal of deepening the community’s familiarity with city climate work and inspiring collective action. The first session focused on energy. Here are five takeaways from the conversation.

1. Climate work is a citywide priority.

City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde kicked off the meeting to emphasize that every city department is tackling climate change, not just the Climate Initiatives Department. “From Water Utilities capturing methane from our water resources recovery facility to Open Space working to restore the health of our soils, this is a citywide responsibility,” she said.

2. The transition to a clean energy economy must be equitable.

While the average household spends about 2% of their income on energy, 30% of Colorado households spend much more. Here in Boulder, more than 200 households spend at least 14% of their incomes on energy. We need to keep these challenges in mind as we work to transition to renewable energy sources like solar and wind. It’s also critical that we maintain housing affordability while making homes more efficient, safe and healthy.

Two city projects are addressing energy affordability head-on.

Ponderosa Solar Garden: subscriptions to the garden, funded by the city, bring down energy costs and save residents about $400 annually.

Valmont Solar Garden Credits: this program has helped participating community members with low incomes reduce their energy burden – the percentage of income that goes to pay for energy costs – from 31% to 18%.

3. Boulder’s stringent energy code is making new buildings more efficient.

One of the best tools cities have to address energy efficiency is energy codes. The city’s stringent energy code is on track to require that all new construction be net zero by 2030, and already requires new residential buildings to be net zero. The commercial building code limits the amount of energy per square foot buildings can use, requires solar for at least 5% of a building’s electric use and incentivizes buildings that don’t use natural gas.

4. The community is leading the way on electric vehicle adoption.

Boulderites lead the state in embracing electric vehicles (EVs). There are nearly 5,000 EVs on the road in Boulder, with more added each month. The city works to support this transition by investing in fast charging infrastructure, electrifying its own fleet of vehicles, and supporting electric transit and micromobility like shared e-bikes and scooters.

Now is a great time to consider making the switch to an EV. New models are ready to support your lifestyle, whether you love long road trips, need lots of cargo space or prefer all-wheel-drive. Modern electric EVs are more energy efficient and environmentally beneficial than their gasoline and diesel counterparts, even when they are charged with today’s still largely fossil fuel-based electricity. The average EV emits 50% less carbon dioxide per mile than a gasoline vehicle, a number that will continue to improve as the electric grid becomes cleaner.

5. The city can’t tackle climate change alone.

Staff concluded their presentation with a nod to the many partners and community members that make progress possible. For example, the city’s robust policy advocacy at the state and federal level benefits from partnerships with Colorado Communities for Climate Action (CC4CA) and strong relationships with Boulder’s elected representatives. And the city’s new partnership with Xcel Energy and community advisory panel is unleashing creative thinking about how to speed up building electrification and the transition to 100% renewables.

Climate change is a global challenge that requires action from all of us. Need a place to start? Read the city’s climate action guides.

Did you miss the event? Catch the replay:

Upcoming Climate Conversations

Circular Economy – July 18, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Learn more about the city’s efforts to build a circular economy, one that reuses, repairs and recirculates existing products and materials for as long as possible. Register online: bit.ly/3Nyft6U

Natural Climate Solutions – Aug. 22, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Learn about Cool Boulder, a community-wide effort to cool our community, foster biodiversity and absorb carbon through natural climate solutions, namely connected canopies, pollinator gardens and absorbent landscapes. Register online: bit.ly/3aNXT0n

Community members can read more about the series and register for each session on the city’s website.