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By September 26, 2018December 17th, 2018No Comments

Garfield’s governments track energy data to save money

Since 2009, CLEER’s Building Energy Navigator website has given local government partners of Garfield Clean Energy an affordable and easy-to-use tool for tracking energy use, utility bills and carbon emissions.

The Navigator is in use at town halls, water and wastewater treatment plants, community centers and other facilities from Parachute to Carbondale.


The Building Energy Navigator is also used by local governments in neighboring counties, including Eagle County, Summit County Schools, Aspen Sanitation District, Town of Snowmass Village, Basalt Library and by all Colorado Mountain College campuses. The Town of Avon and Gunnison County have recently signed up their facilities for monitoring.

The Building Energy Navigator monitors electricity usage data in 15-minute intervals at high-usage facilities, and tracks monthly electric and natural gas utility bills for all buildings and facilities.

The website can be manipulated to display energy data in a variety of ways, from a big-picture, multi-year view to hour-by-hour usage in a single day. Displays can be toggled to show energy usage, energy costs or carbon emissions.

Facility managers use this data to look for opportunities for low-cost operational changes that can save money, and to verify that equipment adjustments and upgrades are performing as predicted.

Navigator pages also display solar energy production for facilities that are powered all or in part by solar arrays. In Garfield County, government facilities across the county are generating more than 4 megawatts of electricity, worth thousands of dollars. It’s important for governments to monitor solar production to ensure the array is delivering what was predicted.

For example, Navigator tracks solar electric production and usage at the Garfield County Fairgrounds Riding Arena. After high-efficiency lighting and other building upgrades were installed, the arena’s rooftop array consistently produce more electricity than the arena needs. By monitoring solar production and electricity usage at the site, county facility managers can use this information to make smart decisions about future upgrades and opportunities that benefit taxpayers.

As a open website accessible to anyone with an internet connection, the Building Energy Navigator also provides governmental accountability to the public for wise use of tax dollars.

With a tool such as the Building Energy Navigator, governmental leaders can see the direct results of energy-saving upgrades and operational adjustments. As they strive to create savings and meet climate targets set by the governing boards, they can readily view progress by using  the Navigator website.

Appreciation Day treats bikers, walkers,
transit riders on Halloween

An early-morning event on Tuesday, Oct. 31, organized by CLEER, will give a Halloween treat of appreciation to the hundreds of people who are bicycling, walking and riding transit buses during the Grand Avenue Bridge Detour.

Cyclists, walkers and transit riders who are on the move from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. can visit an Appreciation Day station at any of three locations in Glenwood Springs: Two Rivers Park, the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, and the RiverTrail at 23rd and Grand.


Walkers and transit riders can pick up a free clip-on safety flasher, and cyclists can pick up a set of head and tail lights for their bicycles, provided by the City of Glenwood Springs and the Appreciation Day sponsors.

“Daylight savings time ends on Sunday, Nov. 5, and the days are already getting shorter. Many cyclists and walkers are commuting in the dark. Flashers and bike lights help make people and bikes visible at night,” said Tanya Allen, transportation manager for the City of Glenwood Springs.

At the Appreciation Day stations, volunteers with Glenwood Springs Bicycle Advocates, Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club, Mountain Lions, Holy Cross Energy, Property Shop and Valley View Hospital will also hand out grab-and-go fruit snacks and “I Beat the Detour” stickers.

“Hundreds of people of all ages have turned out to walk, ride their bikes and ride transit buses in order to reduce traffic congestion during the bridge detour,” said Allen. “They deserve our thanks and appreciation.”

Young cyclists are already benefitting from bike lights distributed earlier in October by the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club. The club purchased 100 sets of water resistant head and tail bike lights, at a cost of $1,200.

Members gave 35 sets to students at Glenwood Springs High School, 35 sets to students at Glenwood Springs Middle School, and 15 sets to riders at Glenwood Springs Elementary and Sopris Elementary. For the elementary and middle school students, Kiwanis members helped the students mount the lights on their bikes.

“Demand was so high at the high school that our club is working to purchase additional sets of bike lights,” said club member John Stephens.

The Oct. 31 Appreciation Day, along with a similar event held Oct. 4, is presented by Garfield Clean Energy and its Ride Garfield County program, the City of Glenwood Springs, RFTA and CLEER.

The two Appreciation Day events are sponsored by Alpine Bank, Glenwood Springs Post Independent, City Market, Holy Cross Energy, Property Shop, Valley View Hospital, Colorado Mountain College and SGM.

Oct. 31 is last day to buy passive solar livestock tanks at discount

Tuesday, Oct. 31, is the last day to pre-purchase a passive solar livestock tank through the Holy Cross Energy group purchase sales event. Any livestock owner in Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin County can take advantage of the wholesale pricing, even if they are not a Holy Cross member.

“Through this group purchase, we are able to offer discounts of 9 to 14 percent to all livestock owners,” said Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for Holy Cross Energy.

Orders are being taken by mailing a check to Holy Cross Energy. Envelopes must be postmarked by Oct. 31.


“Members of Holy Cross Energy also qualify for an additional $300 rebate on these energy saving livestock tanks, knocking the purchase price down by 50 percent or more,” Wiener said.

Customers of Xcel Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and Aspen Electric may also qualify for rebates offered by the electric utilities or through CORE.

Susie Wallace, right, is the winner in Holy Cross Energy’s Potato Day drawing for a free 25-gallon SunTank. At left is Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for Holy Cross Energy. Mark Ames, with Pine Ranch Products, the SunTank manufacturer, is at center.
The outdoor tanks, called “SunTanks,” are heated by direct sunlight, and are super-insulated to prevent water from freezing. Made from FDA-approved polyethelene, they have a shatter-proof solar window made to withstand daily use.

Livestock can easily push in on the tank cover to take a drink. SunTanks can be filled manually from a hose, or can be plumbed to refill automatically, with a built-in shut-off float that prevents overflow.

“Livestock owners are either paying a lot on their electric bills to heat stock tanks in winter, or they’re breaking up ice with a sledgehammer and shoveling it out of unheated tanks,” said Brandon Jones, an energy consultant with CLEER and Garfield Clean Energy. “These passive solar stock tanks solve either of those problems.”

Carbondale horse owners Rachel Marble and Kevin White discovered the SunTank a couple of years ago. They estimate they are saving about $170 per winter on electric bills after replacing their electric-heated tank with a SunTank.

“Typical livestock tanks are kept above freezing temperatures in the winter months with a 1,000-watt heater that runs up to 12 hours per day,” said Wiener. “This technology saves a lot of energy.”

Marble recommends placing the SunTank in a location that captures as much winter sunlight as possible. Because of the spigot location on her property, her tank gets less sunlight. Even so, she’s only had to thaw it out with a teakettle of hot water a couple of times per season.

Learn more about SunTanks, group purchase pricing, pre-purchase instructions and additional rebates offered by Holy Cross Energy, Xcel Energy, Glenwood Springs Electric and CORE.

Window upgrades boost home comfort by stopping drafts, heat loss

Heather McGregor, Clean Energy Economy News

Windows bring light, warmth and fresh air into our homes during the day. On cold winter nights, however, they can make a home feel chilly and uncomfortable.

Single-pane windows, drafty double-hung windows, or decades-old double-pane windows can make a room feel chilly even when the heat is turned up.


Old, leaky windows can be improved either by replacing the entire window, or by tightening up existing windows with air sealing, storm windows and shades.

Any of these improvements will instantly boost the comfort of a home, and they can also make a home more durable, increase its value, and reduce heating and cooling costs.

First, let’s explore ways to tighten existing windows.

Sealing out drafts with caulk and weatherstripping is an affordable do-it-yourself project. Materials cost about $10 per window. Use caulk for parts of the window that don’t move, and apply weatherstripping on double-hung windows to the parts that open and close.

For step-by-step instructions, visit and click on these two instruction sheets: “How to seal air leaks with caulk,” and “How to weatherstrip double-hung windows.”

Some windows have space for an exterior or interior storm window, which can be installed as a do-it-yourself project (instructions on the website above) or by a contractor. Choosing storm windows with a Low-E coating is worth the extra cost, as they’ll reduce heat transfer through the glass by 10 to 15 percent.

With air-sealing completed and storm windows in place, honeycomb window shades add more insulation than most types of curtains or drapes, and create a pleasing appearance for windows inside and out.

A short-term alternative for drafty windows is to install heavy-duty clear plastic sheeting to the inside of windows to reduce drafts. This solution often increases condensation on the glass window, so it’s not recommended as a permanent solution.

Second, let’s hit the high points on replacing windows.

Building science over the past decades has led to the development of window frames and glass that keep out winter’s cold and summer’s heat, eliminate drafts and significantly reduce condensation. Modern windows also offer smooth operation, removable window screens, indoor cleaning hinges, durable outdoor finishes and appealing interior trim options.

While replacing windows is costly, a variety of window frame materials fit different household budgets. At the high end are wood windows with exterior aluminum cladding. More affordable options use fiberglass or vinyl frames, which are equally tight, durable and energy efficient.

Choices also abound for glass. Options include double or triple panes, air-filled or argon-filled, and glass coatings that reduce heat transfer. To sort out the best combination for the climate, buyers can look to the federal ENERGY STAR® program for guidance.

ENERGY STAR® uses ratings provided by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), along with a nationwide climate zone, to help homeowners identify the best options. All of western Colorado is in the ENERGY STAR® Northern Climate Zone.

In western Colorado, double-paned windows with argon gas filling and a Low-E coating will usually meet ENERGY STAR® requirements, measured as the “U-factor.” The lower the U-factor, the more efficient the window.

The NFRC also tests and certifies air leakage from the entire window unit. The NFRC’s U-factor rating indicates the efficiency of the entire window.

Ask for the window manufacturer’s thermal spec sheet, which lists the whole-unit U-factor and other performance ratings, and should show whether a particular window option meets ENERGY STAR® requirements for the Northern zone.

Holy Cross Energy approves community solar arrays in Gypsum, Aspen areas

Holy Cross Energy has accepted proposals for two new utility-scale solar projects to be built near Gypsum and Aspen over the next 18 months.

Each 5-megawatt project will produce enough electricity to serve the annual electric needs of 900 homes, helping Holy Cross to further increase its renewable-energy share and reduce future greenhouse-gas emissions.


“These two new solar projects are part of our continued commitment to providing reliable, affordable and increasingly cleaner electricity to our members and the communities we serve,” said Megan Gilman, chair of the Holy Cross Energy Board of Directors. “Not only will these projects help us further reduce our environmental impact, but they will also provide a consistent, cost-effective source of power supply for years to come.”

“We’re excited to be able to bring these new utility-scale solar projects to our members,” said Holy Cross Energy President and CEO Bryan Hannegan. “In addition to providing clean, affordable electricity, these local projects will also use new technologies to help improve the reliability and resilience of our electric grid.”

Cypress Creek Renewables, a solar company based in California, will build an array on 30 acres south of Gypsum. Cypress Creek has more than 1 gigawatt of solar energy in operation across more than a dozen states. Cypress Creek has an office in Breckenridge and is actively working on six projects across Colorado.

“Cypress Creek is thrilled to be partnering with Holy Cross Energy and the local community to bring more clean, affordable solar energy to the state of Colorado. It is exciting to see Holy Cross Energy and other electric cooperatives throughout Colorado meeting the growing customer demand for renewable energy,” said Cypress Creek Renewables CEO Matthew McGovern.

In Aspen, RES Distributed LLC will work with Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District to develop a solar array on district land in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. RES is a large renewable energy company, with a 12-gigawatt portfolio and projects around the globe, including onshore and offshore wind, solar, energy storage and transmission.

“We view this as an opportunity to fulfill our financial and environmental goals while supporting clean power for the entire community,” said Bruce Matherly, manager of the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District.

Holy Cross will offer the clean energy produced from these new solar projects to its members through an expanded renewable energy purchasing program. Members can purchase sustainable energy from the arrays to offset some or all of their electricity use each month.

The two projects are expected to be in operation by the end of 2018, subject to negotiations among the partners. Holy Cross plans to start taking sign-ups for its expanded renewable-energy program within the next few weeks. Interested members should visit for details.

Garfield Clean Energy initiates ‘EmPower Your Congregation’ campaign

CLEER Energy Coach Maisa Metcalf is reaching out to church congregations from Carbondale to Parachute for Garfield Clean Energy’s “EmPower Your Congregation” campaign.

The new campaign will help congregation members be good stewards of creation by reducing energy use in their homes, workplaces and in their church.


“Energy use impacts our planet’s most vulnerable people, creatures and natural resources. Using less energy is one of the best ways to help care for Earth and our fellow beings,” Metcalf said.

In a brief presentation to congregations during the service, Metcalf will explain how congregation members can sign up for free home energy consultations offered by Garfield Clean Energy.

Congregation members can also enroll their church building in the campaign. Garfield Clean Energy will provide a free building energy walk-through, along with advice about efficiency upgrades that reduce energy costs and make church buildings more comfortable.

Metcalf will also host an information table during social time after the service to talk with church members and explain more about “EmPower Your Congregation,” and to give away energy-saving LED light bulbs.

Any church congregation in Garfield County interested in hosting a presentation can contact Metcalf at 970-704-9200 or

Outreach to congregations was an action step identified by stakeholders who participated in the Garfield Clean Energy and Xcel Energy Partners in Energy planning process. CLEER and and Garfield Clean Energy developed the “EmPower Your Congregation” campaign in cooperation with Energy Smart Colorado and Xcel Energy.

U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathalon - Swiss team entry

Swiss team wins U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathalon

Daniel Simmons, DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, announced the winning team of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 on Oct. 14 in Denver, at the close of the 10-day competition.

The Swiss Team took first place overall by designing, building, and operating the house that best blended smart energy production with innovation, market potential, and energy and water efficiency.


The University of Maryland took second place, and the University of California, Berkeley, and University of Denver team took third place.

“The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon provides real-world training and experience for the energy professionals of tomorrow,” said Simmons.

“It is also a live demonstration of innovative products available today that can help tackle global energy challenges such as energy reliability, resilience, and security.”


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