Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Climate Challenge marks halfway point

Officials say enough energy was saved so far to power 30 homes

Express Staff Writer

Sustainability coordinator Mariel Platt is overseeing the Hailey Community Climate Challenge. Photo by Mountain Express

The city of Hailey got serious in its response to the threat of global warming in 2007 when Mayor Susan McBryant signed the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, joining more than 700 other municipalities in the United States committed to meeting or beating 1990 greenhouse-gas emissions levels.

The city later got its carbon footprint measured and set about reducing energy consumption in city buildings and vehicles by 15 percent by 2015. The city also implemented a voluntary green building code that will likely become mandatory in January.

Due in part to the city's stance toward climate protection, Hailey received a $472,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in March 2011 to create numerous projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and saving energy.

Thanks to an additional $175,000 from city coffers and about $62,000 from 15 partner organizations, the three-year Hailey Community Climate Challenge was born. It is part of a valleywide initiative to reduce greenhouse emissions.

The challenge included programs to increase home energy efficiency, recycle construction waste, upgrade lighting fixtures and promote green living practices through workshops and a $47,000 documentary film project.

Hailey Sustainability Director Mariel Platt, whose three-year position is funded by the EPA grant, reported Monday to the Hailey City Council that by now, halfway through the Hailey Climate Challenge, enough energy has been saved to power and heat 30 homes. The goal of the challenge is to save enough energy to heat 57 homes by the end of the grant period next spring.

Platt reported to the City Council on Monday that Hailey's Build Better Program, geared toward incentivizing green building practices, is less strict than mandatory programs already in place in Ketchum and Blaine County.

"I am all for making it mandatory in January," Councilwoman Carol Brown said.

The council voted unanimously Monday to extend the voluntary program for another year.

Platt said a community bike share program would be implemented in August with funding from the EPA grant. Under the grant, 18 bikes designed by Social Bikes and featuring GPS trackers will be available for use around Hailey. The bikes will be able to be unlocked after making reservations using smart phone applications.

In other Hailey news:

( Members of the Girl and Chocolate professional skateboard teams showed up in Hailey late Thursday afternoon and wowed locals for about three hours.

( Artist Nate Galpin's designs for bike racks on the bike path, featuring mobile artwork that will blow in the wind, were authorized by the City Council.

Tony Evans:

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