‘GREEN’ PRACTICES CAN SHOW Boulder cares about social & economic as well as environmental benefits

Posted by DB Wilson on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 11:45am.

The Boulder Valley is well known for many things, whether it’s our environmental-friendly people and companies, our highly intelligent and educated work force, the University of Colorado, our scenic countryside or our fairly wealthy population. But none of these individual characteristics alone can define our community to the world. What is the Boulder Brand? Or, better yet, what should it be? Even the city of Boulder is seeking ideas from the public on the Boulder brand in hopes of passing a bond measure in 2012 for a capital project that’s in line with whatever brand idea is chosen. In an effort to make our community more aware of the Boulder Brand ideas being discussed for the city and the Boulder Valley as a whole, RE/MAX of Boulder will feature organizations’ brand proposals in its e-zine over the next several months. We hope these articles are informative and that you feel welcome to provide your feedback to RE/MAX as well as to the organizations and your local government.
We start with “Sustainable Boulder: Locally grown humans,” proposed by The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

The same “green” policies and practices that sustain the environment can maximize social and economic benefits, as well. And that’s what should come to mind when people reflect not only on the City and County of Boulder, but all of the Boulder Valley – that it cares about its people and the economy as well as the environment, says Julie Herman, executive director of the Colorado Green Building Guild, previously known as the Boulder Green Building Guild.

“I believe sustainability and green building should be used as a framework for decision making to protect and enhance the best of Boulder Valley,” Herman says. “I want the community known for making decisions that consider long-term impacts and all aspects of community – that have economic, environmental and social benefits.”

Founded in 2006, the CGBG is an association of building professionals dedicated to promoting healthier, resource-efficient homes and work places. Its vision is to empower people to build healthy, resource-efficient communities.


And Herman says that, when the same philosophy is applied to all decisions and practices, the results are what are best for sustaining a healthy environment, a vital economy and social equity.


For instance, when a community promotes sustainability through green building codes, the direct benefits include reducing greenhouse emissions and the community’s carbon footprint, she says. But they also create social equity because “green” practices help people at all economic levels keep more money in their pockets instead of paying utility bills. That, in turn, circulates more money in the economy as does the income from jobs the industry creates.


“People have a big notion of what ‘green’ means,” Herman says. “What we want them to understand is that it’s not just about being green. It’s about being sustainable; it’s what’s best for everybody for the long term. It’s moving away from the cliché, from this idea of associating being green as just caring for the environment. It’s also about caring for people and the economy.


“It’s the relationship between all three things that makes this a special place.”


Creating a sustainable community means every decision – from land use to what businesses are allowed to set up shop here – is filtered through the lens of its economic, environmental and social benefits, Herman says.


“It is how we allow our land to be used, how it’s zoned, promoting urban infill and urban renewal projects,” she says. “It’s smart growth.”


It’s also fostering and supporting green tech jobs and the clean manufacturing sector, making wise transportation decisions and promoting economic growth, Herman says.


Decision-makers need to consider whether a business seeking to locate here is impacting different economic levels, who will benefit from it and what kind of jobs it is creating, she says.


While the city and county of Boulder have already implemented strong green building codes, other jurisdictions could improve on theirs, Herman says.


“It’s a different reality from what’s happening within the city of Boulder and the rest of Boulder County,” she notes. “Though Boulder is a leader, that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of room for improvement and growth. We’d like to see the framework of sustainability expand in to other communities in Boulder County and more consistencies of policies and practices. For example, the green building codes are inconsistent and it’s a challenge for builders to keep on top of what’s happening when each jurisdiction has different codes.”


But Herman says she’d like the Boulder area’s other communities to see that they can maintain their individual identities while embracing sustainable practices.


For more information about the CGBG, visit http://www.bgbg.org/.

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