Local Resilience Project

The Colorado Climate Network and the Colorado Municipal League are convening a statewide Local Resilience Project to help improve the resilience of Colorado local governments and local resources to possible climate change impacts, including increases in wildfires, floods, and health-threatening heat waves. The project will bring together representatives of local governments in Colorado, other governmental entities active at the local level (such as local health departments and school districts), and related organizations to identify ways local governments and others can work together in preparing for and addressing climate change impacts, and what they need from the state and federal governments and other sources to do so. The project was announced on June 26 through a news release featuring statements by Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat, Colorado Municipal League Executive Director Sam Mamet, and Stephen Saunders, the president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO), which administers the Colorado Climate Network.

As of September 10, 39 jurisdictions with close to 100 representatives have signed on to participate in the project: El Paso County, the City and County of Denver, City of Colorado Springs, Larimer County, Boulder County, Douglas County, Pueblo County, the City of Lakewood, the City of Fort Collins, the City of Arvada, the City of Westminster, the City of Boulder, the City of Longmont, the City and County of Broomfield, Eagle County, La Plata County, the City of Golden, Pitkin County, the City of Durango, the City of Steamboat Springs, San Miguel County, the City of Aspen, the Town of Carbondale, the Town of Estes Park, the Town of Vail, the Town of Breckenridge, the Town of Frisco, the Town of Telluride, the Town of Nederland, the Town of Lyons, the Town of Dillon, the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments, Denver Health, the Boulder Valley School District, Denver Water, Poudre Fire Authority, Tri-County Health Department, Jefferson County Open Space, and High Country Conservation Center have agreed to participate in the project.

The outcome of the first phase of the Project will be a report, expected by December 2014 or January 2015, identifying those possible actions by local governments and others and what they need to make them possible. More information on the project is available here and information for potential participants is here. Any elected officials, managers, and staff of local governments (both Network members and others), other governmental agencies with local responsibilities, or other organizations that work with local governments on matters related to climate change resilience should contact Tom Easley (easley@rockymountainclimate.org), the director of programs, for more information.

What we do

The mission of the Colorado Climate Network is to support efforts by local governments and allied organizations in Colorado to reduce heat-trapping gases and to adapt to climate change – whether those efforts are styled as climate, sustainability, energy, or adaptation programs. Launched by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and local community partners in May 2009, the Network helps its members develop and implement those programs, learn of funding and other resources, and interact more productively with other local and state programs in Colorado. For more information about the Colorado Climate Network and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO), click on our About Us page.

Among the Network's services to its members are two priorities that local programs find particularly valuable:

  • State Policies: The Network Steering Committee establishes a State Policies Agenda to focus efforts on which state policy actions are of most signficance to the success of local programs and Network members. RMCO tracks and reports on actions by the state legislature, the Hickenlooper Administration, and state agencies related to those policies. Click on the CCN Programs page for more information.

Now posted is the Wrap-up of 2014 Session of the Colorado General Assembly. The report summarizes 28 bills tracked by RMCO on behalf of the Network during the 2014 session that wrapped up on May 14. The most significant highlights of the session include the defeat of five bills that would have weakened or repealed the state's Renewable Energy Standard, a bill that establishes a paint recycling program, and climate preparedness bills that focus on wildfire preparedness and mitigation of the September 2013 Front Range floods.

  • Annual conference and periodic workshops: Covering a wide range of climate-related issues, these conferences enable Network members to examine topics, learn new skills, and connect with colleagues, subject matter experts, and agency policy leaders at the local, state, and national levels. See our CCN Programs webpages.

What's new

  • Check out the latest grants listed on our grants page. New postings include White House announcement of a new national disaster resilience competition, U.S. Department of Agriculture grants to assist communities with extremely high energy costs, and HUD Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants.

  • New climate change in Colorado report. Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado and the Colorado Water Conservation Board on August 5 released a report, Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation, which updates and expands on the 2008 WWA-CWCB report of the same name. The report is an excellent summary, certainly the best yet, of how climate change may unfold in Colorado. The report is officially designed to be useful to the water provider community but will be equally useful to everybody interested in climate change here.
The report includes new projections on future temperature and precipitation changes, using the latest climate models and emissions scenarios. Importantly, supplemental information posted online by WWA (available via the link at the bottom of this page) presents those projections across all four new emissions scenarios (ranging from one assuming rapid reductions in emission of heat-trapping pollution to another assuming a continued high rate of emission increases) and for two time periods, one centered on 2050 and one on 2070. RMCO has posted a fact sheet summarizing all of those projections.
  • City and County of Denver announces community input sessions for the update of its Climate Action Plan. The city is updating its 2007 Climate Action Plan, among the first in the nation, and is inviting public input at a series of July input sessions. The city is looking for comments on the City’s short term strategies currently in place to meet its 2020 targets; input and suggestions for medium and long-term strategies to meet its 2030-2050 targets; and for help in sustaining its leadership in taking action towards a healthy and vibrant community and planet. Two input sessions will be held in different parts of the City for residents and neighborhood organizations. Another session will be held specifically for non-profit organizations in Denver. See more information here.

Denver in June releases its first Climate Adaptation Plan, an exemplary effort keyed on meeting its “long-term vision to be one of the most innovative and resilient cities in the face of climate change.” To prepare, mitigate, and plan for three primary risks (increased temperature and heat island effect, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and reduced snowpack and earlier snowmelt), the plan lays out short, mid-term, and long-term actions focused on six sectors: buildings and energy, health and human services, land use and transportation, urban natural resources, water consumption, and food and agriculture.

  • Natural Resources Defense Council issues two papers: "Waste Less, Pollute Less: Using Urban Water Conservation to Advance Clean Water Act Compliance" and "Using State Revolving Funds to Build Climate-Resilient Communities." The former paper explains how urban water conservation can help address water quality and water supply needs at the same time, while keeping costs down for ratepayers. The paper shows how programs and policies that reduce indoor and outdoor water use can help achieve cost-effective compliance with sewer overflow, sewage collection and treatment, and stormwater obligations. The latter paper explains how the Clean Water State Revolving Funds and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds can better support and incorporate measures to make communities more resilient to climate change risks. It demonstrates to local, state, and federal decision makers how water efficiency, green infrastructure, and flood resiliency policies can maximize the effectiveness of State Revolving Fund investments.
  • President Obama announces national disaster resilience competition, White House press release, June 14, 2014. President Obama has announced a nearly $1 billion competition that will invite communities that have experienced natural disasters to compete for funds to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters. The competition will support innovative resilience projects at the local level while encouraging communities to adopt policy changes and activities that plan for the impacts of extreme weather and climate change and rebuild affected areas better prepare for the future. Of the nearly $1 billion available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, about $820 million will be available to all states and local governments that experienced a Presidentially-declared major disaster in 2011, 2012, and 2013. All successful applicants will need to show how their proposed action relates to the disaster from which they are recovering. HUD will ensure that geographic diversity is a consideration in the selection of participating communities. The application has not yet been posted by HUD.

  • To protect public health, many major cities confront urban heat island effect, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) news release, June 17, 2014. An ACEEE survey of 26 North American cities, including eight in the West, includes case studies on how cities are responding to urban heat, demonstrating the variety of strategies employed.

  • Department of Energy releases report on water-energy nexus challenges and opportunities.
    DOE in June released a report, "The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities," that frames an integrated challenge and opportunity space around the water-energy nexus for the Department and its partners, laying the foundation for future efforts. When severe drought affected more than a third of the United States in 2012, limited water availability constrained the operation of some power plants and other energy production activities. Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the compounding ramifications of vital water infrastructure losing power. The recent boom in domestic unconventional oil and gas development has added complexity to the national dialogue on the relationship between energy and water resources.

  • In landmark class action, Farmers Insurance sues local governments for ignoring climate change, Climate Progress, May 19, 2013. In what could foreshadow a legal reckoning of who is liable for the costs of climate change, last month Farmers Insurance Co. filed nine class-action lawsuits arguing that local governments in the Chicago area are aware that climate change is leading to heavier rainfall but are failing to prepare accordingly. The suits allege that the localities did not do enough to prepare sewers and stormwater drains in the area during a two-day downpour last April.The class actions against nearly 200 Chicago-area communities ask that Farmers be reimbursed for the claims it paid to homeowners for sewage damage and for lost income, the cost of evacuations and other damages related to declining property values.
  • U.S. Mayors not waiting on Washington to tackle climate change - Survey shows cities are curbing carbon emissions in city operations and citywide. From U.S. Conference of Mayors media release, April 22, 2014. The U.S. Conference of Mayors release findings of a climate survey, showing that cities with a mayoral pledge or formal city council action to curb carbon emissions are making progress on their goals, with two-thirds reporting quantifiable reductions in emissions from city operations and one-third for citywide emissions. The survey findings were based on responses from 282 mayors representing cities of all population sizes and from all regions. Entitled Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Actions in America’s Cities, the survey is the latest of three reports on successful city-led efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climatic events, adding to previously-released findings on city energy efficiency and technology initiatives and how cities invested federal stimulus funds to reduce energy use, deploy new energy technologies and curb harmful energy emissions. Download the Survey.

  • New RMCO Report: More Extreme Heat in Fort Collins. RMCO and the City of Fort Collins released in early February a RMCO report documenting increases in hot days and heat waves in Fort Collins since 1961. Annual rates of 95 degree days and of three straight days of 90 degrees or hotter, for example, have tripled so far this century, compared to 1961-1999 rates. New climate projections prepared for the report also show large increases in these frequencies in the future, especially if future levels of heat-trapping pollution grows at about the current rate. With that medium-high level of future emissions, these 90-degree heat waves could occur five times as often as the historic rate by mid-century, and nine times as often by the end of the century. See more information here.

  • Colorado Energy Office Announces Energy Savings Mortgage Program.  The program was developed out of House Bill 13-1105, legislation that was signed into law, in June of 2013, by Governor Hickenlooper.  The incentive provides a loan benefit for Colorado homebuyers/homeowners who purchase highly efficient new homes or retrofit existing homes at point of purchase (or refinance). The loan benefit is based on a tiered rebate scale where homeowners can receive up to $8,000 for a new home and $6,000 for an existing home. Loan details and incentive amounts will be assessed by the lender directly (after confirmation from the CEO); to ensure that all lending guidelines are followed. The benefit will be reimbursed by the CEO for the portion of the incentive outside of the non-state contribution. For program detail please click here
  • EPA releases a new climate and energy strategy guide for local governments, titled Green Power Procurement: A Guide to Developing and Implementing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs (pdf). This guide provides comprehensive information for local government staff and policy makers on how to implement a range of heat-trapping gases reduction strategies, and includes case studies and examples from communities across the United States and also lLinks to technical resources, analytical tools, and sources of funding. Thes guide is part of EPA’s Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series.

  • Cities Almost Double Climate Actions, Bloomberg Sustainability, February 3, 2014. The world’s 63 biggest cities have almost doubled the activities they undertake to reduce climate change since 2011, according to a report from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. C40 is a network of the world’s megacities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are no C40 cities in Colorado.

  • New Webcasts:
DOE Webinar: New Energy Savings Performance Contracting Resources, July 23, 2014, 12:00-1:30 p.m. MDT. This webinar will introduce new Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) model documents developed by DOE experts and stakeholders. Featuring standard terms and conditions, reporting requirements, financial calculations, and content structures, the new resources are intended to help streamline the ESPC process by offering an updated standard ESPC contract and new companion documents for the public sector. Register here.

DOE Webinar: Better Buildings Challenge Webinar: Public Sector Update, July 24, 2014, 1:00-1:45 p.m. MDT. This webinar focuses on how the Better Buildings Challenge public partners are achieving their energy goals by deploying energy management programs. DOE staff will share implementation models and innovative showcase projects that show actual performance data and deliver real energy and cost-savings results. Register now.

Additional Reports and Resources  

New SEE Action publication on smart meters. SEE Action's Insights from Smart Meters: the Potential for Peak-Hour Savings from Behavior-Based Programs  presents concrete, illustrative examples of the value that insights from behavior analytics of these data can provide, proof-of-concept analysis techniques, novel discoveries that answer important policy questions, and guidelines and protocols that summarize best practices for analytics and evaluation.

State and local energy data tool now available. State and Local Energy Data (SLED) is an online tool developed by DOE that provides basic energy market information that can help state and local governments plan and implement clean energy projects. With the input of a single zip code, users get information that used to be available only by searching through many websites. Users can see how their current energy usage compares to the nation, learn about applicable policies and incentives that could affect energy projects in their state, find available renewable energy resources, get details on transportation fuel sources, and much more. Watch the SLED video to learn more.

Powering Up Colorado: Economic Strength with Energy Efficiency, November 13, 2013, Carbondale, CO Sponsored by Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) and others, this conference featured national, state, and regional leaders discussing how your communities, the region, and entire state can fully tap the potential of energy efficiency and clean energy for a strong economy. Presentations now available on the CLEER website.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report shows how states achieve big savings with energy efficiency targets, April 9. 2014. Energy efficiency targets implemented in half of U.S. states in 2012 saved enough electricity to power 2 million homes for a year. The report, Energy Efficiency Resource Standards: A New Progress Report on State Experience, also finds that most states met or exceeded their targets and that the standards are making substantial contributions to national energy savings.

Drivers Can Compare Gasoline and Electric Fuel Prices with eGallon. DOE has launched eGallon—a way for consumers to compare the costs of fueling electric vehicles versus driving on gasoline. On the site, consumers can see the latest eGallon price for their state and compare it to the price of gasoline.

DOE Database on Residential and Commercial Building Energy Performance. DOE in 2013 launched a Buildings Performance Database, the largest free, publicly available database of residential and commercial building energy performance information. Currently, commercial and residential buildings account for approximately 70% of the electricity consumption in the nation. This database will allow users to access energy performance data and perform statistical analyses on more than 60,000 commercial and residential buildings across the country. The data can also be used to compare performance trends among similar buildings, identify and prioritize cost-saving energy efficiency improvements, and assess the range of likely savings from these improvements.

EPA Report: How We Build Cities and Towns Impacts Public Health and the Environment.   As part of the fourth anniversary of the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities, EPA released its most comprehensive review to date on how the built environment directly affects our environment and public health. Our Built and Natural Environments: A Technical Review of the Interactions among Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality provides evidence that certain kinds of land use and transportation strategies can reduce the environmental and human health impacts of development.

Sharing Success: Emerging Approaches to Efficient Rooftop Solar Permitting. This Interstate Renewable Energy Council report serves as both a prompt for discussing permitting challenges, and as a source of inspiration for communities looking for realistic and effective ways to improve solar permitting while ensuring safe solar installations.

DOE Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program Technical Assistance Program (TAP) resources:

Commercial PACE Materials. DOE published a set of resources to support the design and implementation of commercial property-assessed clean energy (PACE) programs, including an updated Guide to Commercial PACE Financing with a sample application package, and new templates for marketing commercial PACE programs.

Guide to Community Energy Strategic Planning. DOE's Guide to Community Energy Strategic Planning outlines a step-by-step process for creating a robust strategic energy plan for local governments that can help save money, create local jobs, and improve national security.