The Broomfield city limits signs on the east side of the city.
 (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
The Broomfield city limits signs on the east side of the city. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Broomfield City Council unanimously approved greenhouse gas reduction goals presented by the Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability (ACES).

It gave ACES the green light to create a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan, which may include policies and recommendations out of the 2020 greenhouse gas inventory currently being conducted by University Of Colorado Denver on emission source data from various sectors in Broomfield. It could also include recommendations from the audit from the Colorado Energy Performance Contracting program (EPC) regarding energy improvements for Broomfield facilities over time.

All projects and programs, and funding for them, would be subject to council approval.

ACES will first prioritize projects and policies that are “high impact and revenue neutral or revenue positive,” according to the committee. More expensive projects will be considered in the medium or long term and all will be approved by council on a case-by-case basis.

At the Aug. 18 study session, council directed ACES to come back with more cost-driven analysis surrounding these goals. One thing brought up by Major Patrick Quinn was that the goals are “aspirational,” which is true, ACES Vice Chair Aaron Heun said. They are also bench-marked off those of state and neighboring communities, ACES Vice Chair Heun said, and are goals worth aspiring to. He also said it’s incredibly difficult to forecast cost 30 years into the future.

“There are incredible unknown costs to not acting on climate change,” he said. “I think it’s important we consider those as well.”

It outlines greenhouse gas reduction goals for the community by the following percentages and dates:

■ 2025 26%■ 2030 50%■ 2050 90%

The goals for the city and county:■ 2025 30%■ 2030 60%■ 2045 90%■ 2050 100%

According to the resolution presented by ACES, scientists say the United States, and Colorado, needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 to stop the trend of global warming and hinder the impacts already underway.

“The recommended goals are consistent with the State of Colorado’s GHG Reduction Roadmap and were established through a rigorous, science-based process as feasible, attainable, and necessary to limit the amount of anthropogenic warming of the atmosphere,” according to the resolution.

Heun presented slides, one of which focused on the “cost of business as usual,” which was created with the help of other ACES members. When looking at the cost of wildfires, allocating per capita those costs to the City and County of Broomfield, it comes to nearly $1 million a year, he said. Flooding is more than $1 million a year and drought is $2.5 million.

“Those are enormous numbers that are borne by doing nothing about climate change,” he said.

There is an environmental justice aspect to this too, ACES member Catherine Drumheller said, citing air quality as an example of those impacts that are disproportionately borne by people in marginalized communities.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Laurie Anderson, who appreciated that the goals are aspirational, agreed this is something Broomfield needs to move forward on.

“This isn’t out-of-control spending type of situation,” she said.

Mayor Pro Tem Guyleen Castriotta agreed the cost of business as usual is “not one we can afford if we want a planet for our future generation.” She was in favor of putting skin in the game now, saying it is time for Broomfield to lead by example.

Broomfield is currently hiring a sustainability manager.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Kimberly Groom, who approved of the plan, challenged ACES members to add more structure to the financial analysis component, including looking at them in terms of the number of years for return on investment or return on environment.

While Groom said she’s a huge environmentalist, she does not have a great belief in some ongoing activities, such as electric charging stations for vehicles. Broomfield has two stations at its Health and Human Services Building, 100 Spader Way.

Groomed asked ACES to consider latest technology, citing a 30% electricity loss associated with stations right now.

Heun agreed there are efficiency loses, but gave the example of the Nissan Leaf which he said has a carbon footprint equivalent of a car that gets between 50 and 55 mph per gallon. In spite of that loss, they are still more carbon efficient than traditionally fueled vehicles, he said.

ACES members are also looking at how those should be funded so that lower income residents are not burdened with charging other people’s vehicles.

“Your concerns are our concerns and we’re taking those to heart in our discussion,” Heun said.

Ward 2 Councilman Stan Jezierski backed the planning, saying climate change is real and “we needed to act yesterday.” He feels this resolution provides a roadmap in the right direction and agreed with ACES members that the cost of not acting is huge.

“This is great,” he said. “Let’s do it.”