This past Monday I attended a public open house for the City’s Climate Action Plan. It was a standing room only event. Back in March, the city council unanimously passed one of the most aggressive municipal plans to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions. The open house was one step towards educating the public as well as getting feedback from residents on plans and programs that can have a positive effect on reducing waste in the city. As you can imagine, I was particularly interested in the issues of transportation and historic preservation in regards to reducing waste and carbon emissions.
The Climate Action Plan focuses on three avenues of reducing energy use in transportation:
- Shift Land Use Patterns to Shorten Trips and Reduce the Need to Drive
- Drive Adoption of Multimodal Transport
- Accelerate Adoption of Fuel Efficient and Electric Vehicles
Of these three, the first is predicted to have the greatest impact — encouraging development that will enable people to live within walking or biking distance from work, school, and needed services. This has led to changes in the Land Use Code that encourage multi-use developments such as the Flats at the Oval, located on the northwest corner of Howes and Laurel, that has multiple residential units on all four floors but also hosts a Mugs Coffee Lounge and Celestino’s Pizza at the ground level. Not only can residents grab a salad, pizza, or coffee without having to travel by car, but the location is also directly across the street from the CSU campus and one block from the MAX transit line, making it an excellent example of the kind of shift in land use patterns that the City is looking for.
Encouraging multimodal transportation — the use of transit, biking, carpooling, and walking — is another strategy to reduce pollution in Fort Collins. Building out a better Transfort, improving communication so users know when buses will be coming, encouraging car and ride share programs as well as bike share (which I hear is coming soon!), encouraging corporate incentive programs (which is something I’ve been mystified isn’t already commonplace.), and public education regarding the overall costs of driving compared to other forms of transit.
And for those times when people feel like a personal vehicle is their best option, the City hopes to encourage greater use of high gas mileage vehicles. The plan is to do this by providing opportunities for people to take a spin in an electric vehicle, building programs to get charging stations in more places around town, providing incentives that encourage ownership of alternative-fuel vehicles, drive prices of such vehicles lower by incentivizing bulk purchasing, helping local dealers increase their electric vehicle stock, incentivizing vehicle charging during off-peak hours, and providing a market for gently used electric vehicle batteries. The City will also encourage commercial and municipal fleets of cars to be made up of electric vehicles.
One of the speakers at the open house, Brian Dunbar, encouraged us to not only stop doing bad things, but to also make sure that we’re working on doing things that will positively impact the environment. I think that is our greatest challenge.
You can watch the presentations on YouTube, if you’re interested. If you want to skip the somewhat touchy feely and long-winded introduction, fast forward to 8:00. The first speaker was Professor Diana Wall and the second was Brian Dunbar, both from CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability.
To find out more about the Climate Action Plan, check out the page on the City’s website that explains the purpose behind having such a plan and gives a link to the 2015 Climate Action Plan Framework, which is the text I used to put together this post.