CONTACT: Lindy Eichenbaum Lent
email@example.comMayor Hickenlooper Launches Sustainable Development InitiativeNew City Effort Will Focus on Sustainability Opportunities Related to Water, Energy, Land Use and Transportation
(DENVER) During his keynote address to the 21st Century Smarter Growth Conference on Tuesday, Mayor John Hickenlooper announced the creation of the City of Denver’s Sustainable Development Initiative and shared details of some of the Initiative’s preliminary water-related projects.
“Sustainability is a central value of our administration and our community,” Hickenlooper explained. “It requires us to recognize the interconnectedness between the social, economic and environmental impacts of our policies and programs, as we seek to ensure that future generations will enjoy a quality of life characterized by environmental beauty, economic opportunity and resource abundance.”
The Sustainable Development Initiative will focus on three main areas of activity – water, energy, and land use/transportation – because, as Hickenlooper explained, these basic drivers of economic and environmental health offer opportunities for government innovation and leadership.
The initiative, which will promote the citywide importance of sustainable practices by convening stakeholder groups, catalyzing new projects and communicating the importance of sustainability for the City and County of Denver, will be led by Beth Conover, who spent the past year-and-a-half as a policy advisor to the Mayor on issues related to parks, planning and public works.
Before joining the Hickenlooper administration, Conover had been the principal and sole proprietor of Headwaters Consulting, LLC since 1998, providing strategic planning, negotiation, program development and fundraising services for natural resource conservation. In this capacity, she was involved with the Cherry Creek Water Quality Regional Agreement, the Mayor's South Platte River Commission Long-Term Management Framework, as well as other local, regional and statewide initiatives.
She previously held positions as the director of parks and environment for the Stapleton Development Corporation, manager of programs and development for the Stapleton Redevelopment Foundation, and grant writer for the Denver Public Library, to name a few.
The Initiative’s first efforts will focus on water. Some preliminary programs include the following:
The Community Conservation Gardens Project involving a youth water corps:
Since more than half of Denver Water’s treated drinking water is used on private landscapes in the summertime, the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, with help from Denver’s Workforce Development Division, will launch a program this summer to convert four prominent public landscapes to “waterwise” gardens. Through a combination of public and private grants and partnerships, local at-risk youth will participate in creating these gardens, while being trained in job skills for the growing green industry.
Locations for the waterwise gardens include the Denver City and County Building, Harvey Park, Highland and Montbello/Parkfield Recreation Centers. The neighboring communities will be engaged in the design and installation of these sites, and site plans, plant lists and other information resources will also be provided to the broader public.
Partners include Denver Water, Denver Botanic Gardens, the Gates Family Foundation and the Green Industries of Colorado.
The South Platte Water Quality Initiative:
Denver’s Departments of Public Works and Environmental Health are working together to develop a strategy for reducing pollution levels in the South Platte River through aggressive intervention measures, monitoring, and public education. Staff are targeting problem storm-water outfalls in an effort to reduce the levels of E-Coli in the Denver reach of the river. Over time we will expand our efforts to address other pollutants and to work regionally on a watershed basis to improve water quality in the South Platte.
Public Education and Outreach:
The Mayor’s Office will partner with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science this summer to offer a speaker’s series on the best ideas in Western Water, highlighting local and regional water issues, and bringing in some of the best thinkers from around the region to discuss their programs and possible lessons for our area. We are also engaged in a longer-term effort with the Metro Mayor’s Caucus to develop best management practices for water conservation in the region.
“It is important to realize these are not random actions, but part of a larger citywide program and strategy that benefits all taxpayers,” said Hickenlooper. “We intend to honor the Denver’s environmental record while promoting the ‘triple bottom line’ of the social, economic and environmental benefits of sustainability moving forward.”
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Sustainable practices are nothing new to the City and County of Denver. Though not widely publicized, the City has supported innovative sustainable development strategies for many years, and was recently recognized by the national group Sustainable Circles as one of the Top 10 cities in the nation for “walking the talk” of sustainable practices. Some highlights of Denver’s historic and ongoing commitment to sustainability include the following:
In the early 90s, the City of Denver created the first Green Fleets program in the nation by investing in hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles for the city fleet. In 2004, Denver expanded the Green Fleets program with the development of a biodiesel pilot project for 60 heavy duty vehicles, and in 2005, with the use of “E-85” high ethanol fuel for city vehicles.
Thanks to focused region-wide efforts, Denver became the first city in the 1990s, and the only one at a high altitude, to re-attain clean air standards after a decade or more of notorious non-compliance.
In 2002, the City developed and adopted Blueprint Denver – one of the first plans in the country that combines citywide planning for both land use and transportation systems. Implementation of BluePrint Denver is underway.
Denver International Airport realized precedent-setting and award-winning success in 2004 by becoming the first major airport in the country to attain ISO 14001 standards for its Environmental Management System – recycling 19 substances on a daily basis, among other environmentally conscious efforts.
Denver is a pioneer in the use of LED (light-emitting diode) traffic signals and continues to have the largest LED traffic signal inventory in the United States, saving nearly $800,000 annually in energy, materials and labor costs. In terms of emissions reduction and public health, this program reduces pollutants by an amount equivalent to the effects of planting more than 777 acres of trees or the permanent removal of 371 automobiles from local roads.
Last fall, the seven-county Denver metro region passed FasTracks – the most ambitious local transit build-out in our nation’s history. Once completed, this integrated, regional transit system is expected to benefit over half a million riders a day. Regionally, it is estimated that 51 of 57 FasTracks stations have transit-oriented development potential, with 18 of those sites containing 10 acres or more.
The City of Denver is working with the Denver Regional Council of Governments and the Colorado Department of Transportation to restore and revitalize Denver Union Station as a regional transit hub. When the Union Station redevelopment is complete - with around 50 trains and 100 buses during peak hours and over 1 million square feet of private development - 190,000 visitors are expected per day.
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