MARCH 2019 Newsletter
Across the country and, indeed, the world, youth-led movements focused on supporting and leading climate action initiatives are growing. As students in Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom ask their country’s leaders to address climate change through policy and planning (including through an international school climate strike planned for March 15th), groups of youth in the United States are working towards a similar goal. A group of youth is even going so far as to challenge the government’s standing on climate change in the courts, arguing that by allowing climate change to continue at the current pace, the U.S. government is threatening their and future generations’ rights to ‘life, liberty, and property.’ As these youth movements gain attention on the national front, we’ve witnessed the power of involving youth in climate action planning and work at a local level as well.
Continue reading to learn about how the City of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, made the involvement and voices of the community’s youth a cornerstone of their aggressive climate action plan, which calls for net zero emissions from the community by 2040. You can also hear directly from a young person passionate about climate change, as our blog post this month was written by Maggie Zeh, a senior at Rock Canyon High School. Maggie is interested in pursuing a career in sustainability and is shadowing Lotus as part of her senior career exploration studies. Finally, take a look at some of the most compelling climate and policy-related news stories that we’ve been following on the local, national, and international stage.
We always appreciate your feedback, and the opportunity to support your work on climate action and sustainability. Please reach out to us with questions or comments.
St. Louis Park Makes Youth Involvement a Focus of the City’s Aspirational Climate Action Plan
The City of St. Louis Park, just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, boasts one of the most aggressive climate action goals in local governments: the City aims to be a carbon neutral community by 2040. The community’s climate action plan, completed and adopted by City Council in early 2018, included significant involvement from youth in the community that are passionate about climate change. The core stakeholder group for the plan, which included 10 youth representatives, ensured that youth concerns were heard and addressed during plan development. This was done by working with both iMatter, a Minnesota-based and youth-led organization that works on climate action, and Roots & Shoots, the local environmental club from St. Louis Park High School. Additionally, the plan calls for continual involvement from youth groups like iMatter and Roots and Shoots to ensure that young people in the community remain engaged and their voices and concerns continue to be heard throughout the implementation of the City’s sustainability initiatives.
St. Louis Park has a Council-appointed, resident-led Environment and Sustainability Commission that meets monthly to support the City’s overall sustainability efforts and provide direction and guidance on opportunities to involve the community in this work. Of the Commission’s 13 members representing each ward in the City, two members are youth representatives. In this way St. Louis Park is illustrating that the City recognizes that continual and active involvement of youth is crucial to the success of the City’s climate action policies. Additionally, through the youth members of the Environment and Sustainability Commission, St. Louis Park is able to leverage additional resources in communicating the City’s sustainability vision to all members of the community, including through engaging the community at youth-focused events and using the ever-present tool of social media.
The leadership and community in St. Louis Park acknowledged that climate change has the potential to drastically impact the world which young people will inherit, and had the wisdom to recognize the power of youth voices and engagement in climate action. This sets an excellent example of the expanded reach that community’s can have in their climate action policies and programs.
Lotus Blog: More than the ‘iGen’—Parts 1 and 2
The involvement of young people in climate change activism has grown rapidly in the past few years, and groups of passionate and informed youth are driving local conversation about climate action policies. These youth groups make a compelling argument—our failure as a society to address climate change ensures a less stable, more hazardous, and more economically insecure future for their generations and those that come after. Our most recent blog posts, which can be found in two quick reads, was written by Maggie Zeh, a senior at Rock Canyon High School who is working with Lotus as part of her senior career exploration coursework. Maggie is passionate about the environment and interested in pursuing a career in sustainability.
Hear what one young person has to say about why her generation cares about climate change.
Inspiring or Noteworthy News
News stories about climate policy, opportunities to improve and invest in technologies to reduce emissions, and how the public sector is responding have been abundant in the early part of 2019. If you have an interesting article that you think is worth sharing, please send it to us and we may include it in a future newsletter.
Boulder may have some of the highest concentrations of certain air quality contaminants.
Two Colorado co-operative utilities considering partnership to reduce coal and increase renewables.
City and County of Denver receive $2.5M from American Cities Climate Challenge to help combat impacts from climate change.
Unsatisfied by rising rates and limited by renewable options , some Colorado electric co-operatives are looking for new options.
Governor Polis announced an executive order aimed at supporting and expanding the adoption and development of infrastructure for vehicle electrification.
Colorado ski areas and the ski industry in general are focusing on their relationships with utilities and regulators to address their climate action goals.
Uber and RTD partner in Denver to provide mobility as a service.
House Bill 17-1339 is designed to issue low-cost bonds to help utilities close coal plants and cover the transition.
Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission asserted its jurisdiction over the dispute between Tri-State Generation and Transmission and Delta-Montrose Electric Authority.
Several of Colorado’s rural electric co-operatives have announced clean energy goals.
Clean energy policies and support is gaining political common ground as the economic and environmental benefits of these projects become more appealing.
A Virginia County is debuting a small autonomous shuttle that will travel through the commercial districts.
The House Energy and Commerce committee will focus its first hearings of 2019 on climate change, which hasn’t been discussed at length by the committee in several years.
America’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.4 percent in 2018, the biggest increase in eight years.
Cities are rethinking the way they address transportation and mobility, and Pittsburgh’s goals are a reflection of this.
Oil companies are starting to support carbon taxing policies.
Freshman democrats in Congress are pushing for a Green New Deal. Thomas Friedman argues that it is a strategy for American national security, national resilience, and natural economic leadership.
The Governor of Pennsylvania has announced the state’s first carbon emissions reduction targets.
Researchers at the University of Arizona have mapped changes in snow mass in Western states since 1982 at a detailed scale and found that some areas have had a decline in maximum snow mass of 41%.
U.S. air travel is on the rise, which means more emissions in the transportation sector; many U.S. based airlines are not addressing climate mitigation to the degree that airlines in the EU are.
GM is moving thousands of engineers from working on internal combustion engines to electric and autonomous vehicles, with a focus on the Chinese market and sports utility vehicles.
The National Renewable Energy Lab and the Clean Energy States Alliance release a report on the design and implementation of community solar gardens for low-to-moderate income customers, which provides useful insight for project and program developers. The report draws on Lotus’s work with the Colorado Energy Office on the Low-Income Community Solar Demonstration Project.
Cities are (sometimes unintentionally) adopting regulations and laws that will support climate change efforts, tucked into measures related to housing and transportation.
The Department of Defense released a report that details the threats to U.S. military installations due to climate change impacts.
At least 6 GW of coal capacity is expected to be retired in the U.S. in 2019.
Los Angeles is abandoning three natural gas plants with plans to invest in more renewables.
Illinois is the latest state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance and commit to reduce carbon emissions in the coming years.
A recent poll from Yale and George Mason Universities shows that more Americans than ever are concerned about the impacts that climate change will have on their lives and the future.
Solar requirements on new homes are now being enforced in California, while other states grapple with the economic impacts and feasibility of such policies.
New Mexico’s governor moves to limit methane emissions from oil and gas development in the state and also reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 45% by 2030 (over a 2005 baseline) ‘as soon as practicable.’
Electric vehicles are dominating the conversation within the public sector.
The New York Times published an interesting interactive graphic that estimates what the emissions reduction impacts would be if the U.S. were to adopt similar climate change mitigation policies as some other states and nations have.
The recent polar vortex in the Midwest provided an opportunity to analyze the need for massive deployment of energy storage in order for a 100% renewable grid to withstand similar events in the future, according to an analysis by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.
Of the 265 U.S. coal-fired power plants that monitor their groundwater impacts, 242 have reported unsafe levels of at least one pollutant from coal ash.
Karachi, Pakistan, is developing a emissions-reducing clean Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that will be powered by bio-methane from manure.
International ecologists and economists predict that all salt-water fish will go extinct by 2048 under the status quo.
Hydrogen fuel cell trains may soon be running throughout the United Kingdom.
Fiat Chrysler was indicted in an emissions scandal similar to Volkswagen’s DieselGate.
The EU has agreed to a ban on 10 single-use plastic products.
Scientists warn that oceans may be warming at a faster pace than previously expected.
The Guardian provides a great primer on the development and use of battery technology, which is crucial to a clean energy transition.
Researchers are exploring what types of carbon taxing policies are most attractive to citizens.
The Guardian highlights successful tactics from the ozone movement in the late 1980’s that may offer some guidance on how to gain momentum and support for action on climate change.
Carbon Brief details a year-in-review for climate data based on an analysis of temperature records, emissions reports, and other data from 2018.
TechCrunch offers three pieces of advice to regulators regarding how to approach the changing mobility and infrastructure system brought on by new technologies and innovations in transportation and mobility policy.
The Earth has experienced the 5 warmest years on record, all since 2014.
The UK is considering implementing a meat tax to curb GHG emissions.
Corporate clean energy buying surged in 2018.
The world’s largest offshore wind farm just started powering parts of the UK.
The European Union announced it will reduce emissions from new trucks and buses by 30% by 2030; investment in alternative fueling and charging infrastructure is needed in order for this goal to be reached.
Come See Lotus at the Green Spaces Coworking Space on April 23, 2019
Lotus’s Hillary Dobos will be joining Jerry Tinianow, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City and County of Denver, and others on a panel discussing "Sustainability and the Future of Your Industry" at Green Spaces Coworking Space on April 23rd from 6-7PM followed by a cocktail hour. If you are able to stop by, please say hello!
We always appreciate your feedback, and the opportunity to support your work on climate action and sustainability. Please reach out to us with questions or comments.
January 2019 Newsletter
As we start the new year, the Lotus team is excited about many of the emerging trends, new technologies, and policy innovations that state and local governments and forward-thinking organizations are exploring to achieve their climate action goals. During the last few months of 2018 the IPCC Special Assessment Report and the Fourth National Climate Assessment, as well as other publications and reports, provided several reminders of the urgency of taking quick action to mitigate climate change. While international delegations debated the specifics of tracking and reporting emissions reduction activities at COP24 in Katowice, local leadership in governments and the private sector are driving real efforts towards climate action in the United States. This month, we are excited to explore new ideas on tackling sustainability in the transportation sector and how innovative policy and infrastructure can support big emissions reductions from transportation activities. We also have an update on new organizations that are using data to drive decisions, and some news articles that we have found inspiring or noteworthy over the past several weeks.
Lotus Blog—Emerging Trends in the Transportation Sector
The transportation sector (which includes all forms of on-road travel as well as aviation, railways, and waterborne navigation) accounted for roughly 28 percent of the United States’ total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2016. Given the significant share of national emissions that result from our daily driving habits and personal transportation activities many cities and regional governments, often with the help of new technologies and emerging policy trends, are exploring how to reduce transportation emissions through infrastructure planning and policy development. In our latest blog, we take a quick look at the emerging transportation sustainability trends that are exciting us right now.
More Organizations are Using Data to Inform Their Goals
Establishing a climate action strategy and understanding which goals and strategies are appropriate for your community can be challenging. An important first step of this process is determining your baseline GHG emissions and emission-producing activities; this will allow you to appropriately direct your resources towards the most impactful climate action strategies. We are seeing more communities and organizations that are interested in measuring their emissions impact in order to define and determine the most effective strategies to meet their climate action goals.
Lotus is thrilled to be supporting the first GHG emissions inventories for the City of Westminster, Colorado and the Adams 12 Five Star School District. The City of Westminster is interested in understanding both community-generated emissions and those that come from municipal operations. Lotus is completing a Global Protocol for Community-Scale GHG Emissions (GPC)-compliant inventory for the Westminster community, as well as a Local Government Operations Protocol inventory to analyze the impact of municipal operations. The results of these inventories will inform the development of the City of Westminster’s first sustainability plan, which is forthcoming in 2019.
Adams 12 Five Star School District, which is pursuing Collaborative for High-Performing Schools (CHPS) verification for a recently-completed new school building, is interested in understanding the impact of school district operations on the environment, and what impact their current sustainability strategies will have on their sustainability goals. Lotus is working with the District to collect data and complete a District-wide operational GHG emissions inventory that will be entered into the Sustainability Indicator Management and Analysis Platform (SIMAP) tool, which will allow the District to track their emissions year-to-year and compare their impact with other school districts and campuses across the country.
Our team loves helping organizations meet their sustainability goals no matter where they are in the process, and we especially enjoy supporting organizations that are looking to better understand their environmental footprint and the impact of their sustainability strategies. If your organization is interested in measuring your emissions and environmental impact to support the achievement of your sustainability and climate action goals, contact us for information on how to get started!
Inspiring and Noteworthy News
Many cities and states are exploring a variety of innovative approaches to reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector. We explore some in our most recent blog.
Xcel Energy announced its intent to be a carbon-free electricity provider by 2050; it is the first utility in the nation to make this incredible commitment.
DMEA (Delta-Montrose Electric Association) moves to break with Tri State Generation and Transmission, primarily due to concerns about rising costs and a greater interest in renewable energy by DMEA.
Will Toor joins the Colorado Energy Office as its Executive Director to help Governor Polis reach his goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040.
The City of Boulder’s greenhouse gas inventory web page makes understanding the community’s emissions straightforward and accessible for almost anyone. It offers a great example of how we can inform and empower citizens to be engaged in their community’s climate action initiatives.
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Silicon Valley is stepping up to the plate to fund research on carbon removal technologies.
The episode ‘8 Bets About the Future’ from The Interchange Podcast by GreenTechMedia is a fun and thought-provoking exploration of the developments in clean tech and infrastructure that will shape our world in the years to come.
Puerto Rico considers a 100% renewable by 2050 goal, but reliance on natural gas in the interim may make that unfeasible.
‘Natural climate solutions’ (such as reforestation) can help the U.S. meet the targets it originally set in the Paris Agreement.
5 new congressional representatives that made climate change and environmental justice a key platform for their campaign won in the mid-terms, and seven states are poised to start discussing a climate tax in 2019.
Offshore wind projects continue to make more financial sense, and Rhode Island is paying attention.
Researchers have developed a carbon-fiber material from algae that have consumed carbon dioxide.
Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge highlights the recent work in Georgetown, Texas, to develop a virtual power plant by partnering with homeowners and businesses in the community.
To engage citizens in fighting climate change and reducing emissions, we need to focus on hope, not fear.
NRDC released a report showing the impact of the clean energy economy on bringing more jobs to rural areas.
While it hasn’t yet announced any closures, PacifcCorp’s recent analysis indicates that 60% of its coal units are uneconomic, and replacement with cleaner energy resources may save the company, investors, and customers in the long run.
Ten charts show the progress of 25 countries regarding clean energy, energy efficiency, sustainability in transportation, and efforts towards carbon capture.
At the crux of ensuring that we mitigate climate change impacts is engaging cities and urban planners in creating a sustainable and resilient future for us all, the UN Environment Programme states.
Net-Zero Energy homes are paying for themselves even more quickly than expected in many markets.
The New York Times published an interesting interactive piece that explores the methods that different states used to produce electricity, and how those energy mixes have changed since 2001.
Democrats will revive the House Special Committee on Climate Change, with Representative Kathy Castor from Florida leading the committee.
October 2018 Newsletter
As summer winds down and the changing Aspens strike a brilliant note, the Lotus team is grateful to be assisting many local communities as they define and implement their climate action strategies. Whether through developing and facilitating impactful stakeholder engagement strategies, spreading the good word about opportunities to participate in energy efficiency programs, or helping communities and organizations develop their first-ever greenhouse gas analysis, we are amazed and inspired by the everyday work of the teams and communities we get to support. Read on to learn more, including useful stakeholder engagement strategies in our most recent blog, find out what our clients are up to, and see a list of note-worthy news that we think is worth sharing.
Over the last few years we have witnessed more and more communities pursuing climate action strategies and conversations that address each community’s individual values. But as a community leader, how do you know you are focusing on the right priorities and strategies that will achieve your climate action goals and build a resilient community for the future? Lotus has employed effective stakeholder engagement tools that have brought great results for our clients; in this blog we will share how you can incorporate an impactful stakeholder engagement strategy into your climate action planning process.
Supporting and promoting energy efficiency in rural Colorado
The Gunnison Valley Home Energy Advancement Team (GV-HEAT), an innovative program of the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority (GVRHA), coordinates and facilitates the implementation of multiple income-qualified residential energy efficiency programs in the Gunnison Valley. According to research from Western State University, Gunnison County homes use on average 40% more energy than homes in similar climate zones, and with 30% of the local population making less that 80% of the Area Median Income, there is great opportunity to reduce energy use and increase the comfort of homes while also supporting greater home affordability. However, spreading the word about a new program, even one that addresses such a great need, can prove challenging in a rural community.
Lotus supported the development of the GV-HEAT program and lead program administration for the first several months and is excited to now be handing the program back over to local agencies to administer successfully. By building critical relationships with program partners and developing efficient processes that will lead to long-term program sustainability, we have endeavored to set our clients up for success in continuing to make this unique offering available to Gunnison Valley residents long into the future.
Lotus has been working with GVRHA and partner organizations such as Energy Smart Colorado, Energy Outreach Colorado, the state-wide Weatherization Assistance Program, and Gunnison County to make residents aware of the availability of grant funds and rebates for home energy efficiency improvements. Through grass-roots marketing tactics, such as presenting at community meetings to Spanish-speaking and immigrant populations, and by developing deep relationships with local partner organizations, word is spreading fast about the opportunity to participate in GV-HEAT and benefit from program services.Word of mouth has also been crucial in spreading the good news about GV-HEAT. Recently, Lotus worked with KBUT, the local public radio station out of Gunnison County, to launch a short radio series on the GV-HEAT program, which will continue to drive traffic towards the GV-HEAT program. Take a moment to listen to the short radio segments and learn more about this creative and streamlined approach to implementing residential energy efficiency programs.
This fall, Lotus will be participating in many regional and state-wide conversations regarding sustainability. If you do attend one of the following events, please stop by to say hello! We would love to meet you.
Emily Artale will be presenting at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's Rural Energy Conference on October 22nd. Emily will be sharing strategies and successes for developing rural energy efficiency programs based on Lotus's work in the Gunnison Valley.
Julia Ferguson will be attending the Compact for Colorado Communities event to shape the Colorado Communities Cooperative on October 16th in Westminster, Colorado.
Lotus will attend the Sustainable Denver Summit on November 29, 2019.
Things that are inspiring us right now
We can’t help but be impressed and excited about some recent announcements, toolkit launches, and news articles that illustrate the impact of leaders in sustainability and climate action:
Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission signaled their approval for Xcel Energy’s Colorado Energy Plan, which is anticipated to reduce CO2 emissions by 60%, increase the generation of electricity from renewable resources within Xcel’s mix to 55% by 2026, and save ratepayers $213 million. Read more from The Denver Post and Xcel Energy about the specifics of the plan and it’s impact.
The efforts of Pueblo, Colorado, to ‘go green’ and reduce the city’s environmental impact while providing a better quality of living for residents are not going unnoticed, as evidenced by this recent Time Magazine article from June.
Fort Collins Utilities has launched a new loan program to support residential energy efficiency projects. The EPIC loan program, which offers on-bill financing for residential customers of the utility that pursue energy efficiency upgrades, and will target less efficient rental properties.
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability recently launched a new Contribution Analysis Tool to help communities determine the impacts of various drivers and activities on year-to-year emissions changes.
Although forestry is traditionally not included in community GHG inventories, a group of forestry experts based out of Colorado are interested in better understanding and quantifying emissions and sinks from forests. In an effort to better understand the impacts such calculations may have on communities this forestry expert group would like to gather your feedback via this short survey.
GreenBiz wrote a recent article about the need for greater availability of national-level data on energy use, transportation, and other emissions-related activities to support communities localized emissions inventories.
A recent Scientific American article provides some interesting graphs illustrating that a big shift to renewable electricity production can greatly reduce water use, lower carbon dioxide emissions, and create new high-paying jobs.
Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron and Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper penned a great op-ed recently in The Aspen Times highlighting the opportunity to reduce emissions and improve air quality, following Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s recent announcement that Colorado will join 13 other states in adopting an advanced clean car program.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) recently released a GoEVCity Policy Toolkit to help cities identify and implement effective policies to drive towards greater electric vehicle adoption.
More and more cities are launching electrical vehicle initiatives to drive municipal fleets towards electrification.
The Federal Government is accepting comments on the Safe Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicle Rules as proposed. Go here to make your voice heard.
California Governor Jerry Brown signs legislation to push for 100% clean, renewable electricity by 2045. Further, Brown recently signed an Executive Order pushing California towards carbon neutrality by 2045; this is the first executive order of this kind in the United States.
APril 2018 Newsletter
Lotus continues to build solutions that address local and national sustainability challenges. This spring we are excited to support communities through the U.S. DOE Solar in Your Community Challenge, expand our efficiency program in the Gunnison Valley, launch new GHG emissions inventories, and grow our team!
Supporting local communities to build their solar capacity
Lotus is a consulting partner to the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar in Your Community Challenge, a call to action for innovative leaders across the country to team up and create projects and programs that will build local capacity to support community solar, with a focus on serving low and moderate income (LMI) households.
We love supporting projects that are good for the environment and the community living in it, so this partnership is a perfect fit for the Lotus team! Lotus is currently assisting teams in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Michigan by helping to guide program development and tell the story of these inspiring projects.
Each of the teams we are supporting has a unique approach to the development of community solar projects, tailored for the communities they are serving. In New Hampshire, Lotus is supporting the development of program guidelines that will encourage and support LMI families to participate in community solar projects. In Michigan, we will help identify and implement strategies for integrating energy efficiency programs into solar project portfolios.
We are honored to support such creative leaders that are making a difference in their local communities. To learn more about these projects, please contact us and we would be happy to share more information.
CARE Program now available to Gunnison County residents
The Colorado Affordable Residential Energy (CARE) program was officially launched in March, making energy efficiency assessments and retrofits accessible for low to moderate income families in the Gunnison Valley. CARE, which is funded through generous grants from Energy Outreach Colorado and the local utilities, provides free energy assessments and qualified retrofits through the Gunnison Valley Home Energy Advancement Team (GV-HEAT), which Lotus administers alongside the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority. Through GV-HEAT, Valley residents can be connected to services that will allow them to better understand their home energy use, learn more efficient behavior, and receive rebates and grants towards qualifying efficiency upgrades.
Lotus Featured in Sierra Club's video series
As part of their recent series on women-owned businesses in the sustainability field, the Colorado Sierra Club recently invited Hillary Dobos and Emily Artale of Lotus to share the story of our company and the impact that one individual can make. Click here to be directed to the full video!
More Mountain Communities are launching Greenhouse Gas Inventories
Lotus was recently hired by the City of Aspen and Summit County to complete their 2017 greenhouse gas inventories. We are excited to support these communities in their continual efforts to be sustainability leaders! Lotus will be completing the inventories to the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Inventories (GPC) standard, which sets rigorous guidelines for the documentation and sharing of emissions data in order to ensure that communities can have comparable inventories year-to-year and across geographic regions for reference.
The Lotus Team is Growing!
Lotus recently hired Julia Ferguson to find sustainability solutions for Lotus's diverse clients. Julia has worked with Lotus since August of last year on a contractual basis, and is excited to join the team full-time. 'Working on a team that is so dedicated to finding the most innovative, effective, and meaningful sustainability solutions is inspiring,' says Ferguson, 'I can't wait to keep serving our communities in Colorado and beyond!' Julia joins the team as a Senior Associate for Lotus; she has previously worked as Sustainability Coordinator for Adams County Government and Program Manager for the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
Lotus recently moved offices to Steno in Denver. If you'd like to come visit us in person, please direct your GPS to 1627 Vine Street, Denver, CO 80206! We'd love to meet with you in our new space.
February 2018 Newsletter
Lotus Engineering and Sustainability has begun 2018 with many exciting projects and announcements. From modeling greenhouse gas reduction strategies, to developing a new report on low-income community solar models, to launching an energy assistance program on the Western Slope of the Rockies, our team is busy finding sustainability solutions for our clients. Please read below to learn more about our current projects and updates, and let us know how we can help your organization achieve your sustainability goals.
Colorado Energy Office released a report on the Low-Income Community Solar Demonstration Project
Lotus was hired by the Colorado Energy Office to assist in the development and evaluation of the innovative low-income community solar demonstration project. The demonstration project was conducted in partnership with eight utilities across the state and provides insight on how community solar programs can have a positive impact on vulnerable community members while supporting a utility's renewable energy and community outreach goals.
The full report, which includes detailed case studies of the projects developed by each utility, can be found here.
If your organization has an interest in developing community solar projects that have wide-reaching benefits, please reach out. We are passionate about ensuring access to clean energy to all community members, and would love to support your work.
Lotus Blog: 100% Renewable Commitments (Part 2)
In our last blog post, we discussed how a growing number of communities and businesses are committing to 100% renewable energy in the near future. In Part 2, we suggest some strategies and actions that may lead to access towards a 100% renewable energy goal. Contact us to learn about the first steps your community or business can take towards sustainability and climate action.
For those communities that have already pledged to invest in 100% renewable energy or electricity: CONGRATULATIONS and WELL DONE! We look forward to watching your progress and supporting your work!
Denver's 80x50 Climate Goal Stakeholder and Community Input Initiative Recognized at the Compact of Colorado Communities Symposium on January 31
The City and County of Denver was awarded for their leadership with the 80x50 Stakeholder and Community Input Initiative. Lotus has the distinct pleasure of leading this project for the City and County of Denver, and is currently working with Denver to refine the 80x50 targets and strategies based on stakeholder feedback. Congratulations to the City and County of Denver for leading this effort and driving sustainability forward in the Denver metro region.
Gunnison Valley Home Energy Advancement Team (GV-HEAT) Officially Launches
Lotus and the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority (GVRHA) launched the Gunnison Valley Home Energy Advancement Team (GV-HEAT) this month! Through GV-HEAT, we are connecting households in the Gunnison Valley to a suite of home energy efficiency programs that will help make homes in the Valley more safe, comfortable, and efficient. Lotus serves as the program developer and administrator for GV-HEAT, and is applying on behalf of the Housing Authority to administer the Colorado Affordable Residential Energy (CARE) program as part of GV-HEAT. Contact us to learn more about this program, and how to establish a similar one in your community!
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventories and Climate Action Planning
As many of us know, you can't manage what you don't measure. Throughout 2017 and into the beginning of 2018, Lotus has assisted multiple local communities, including Boulder County and the City of Longmont, in completing an up-to-date and GPC compliant community greenhouse gas inventory. These detailed inventories provide the community with the resources and information needed to make data-driven decisions about how to reduce emissions and aggressively achieve climate action goals. Lotus is now excited to be embarking on climate action strategies with these communities and others, and is currently modeling strategies that will achieve emissions reductions to support the development of relevant, achievable, and aggressive climate action plans.
To learn more about Lotus's greenhouse gas inventory and climate action planning work, please visit our website.
Colorado Sierra Club highlights Women-Owned Businesses that are making a difference in the sustainability field
Emily Artale, Co-owner and Principal Engineer at Lotus, will be featured in the upcoming video from the Sierra Club. Keep an eye out for this short video in the next newsletter!
December 2017 newsletter
Happy Holidays from Lotus
With the end of 2017 quickly approaching, the team at Lotus is busy wrapping up several projects and looking forward to many more opportunities to support your climate action goals in 2018. Read on to learn about our upcoming report with the Colorado Energy Office on how community solar can impact low income energy burden, which communities are pursuing climate action planning, and how an energy efficiency and home weatherization program for all residents of a mountain community can be effectively implemented. As always, please contact us with any questions or to learn more!
Read our newest Lotus Blog!
And while you are at it, check out our recently re-designed website!
Lotus Blog: 100% Renewable Commitments Are Becoming a Common Climate Action Strategy
A growing number of communities and businesses are committing to move towards 100% renewable energy in the near future. What does this mean, and what are the most effective strategies for going 100% renewable energy? Contact us to learn about the first steps your community or business can take towards sustainability and climate action.
Forthcoming Report on the Colorado Energy Office's Low Income Community Solar Demonstration Project
Lotus worked with the Colorado Energy Office and the National Renewable Energy Lab to create eight detailed project case studies and the final report for the Colorado Energy Office's innovative Low-Income Community Solar Demonstration Project.
The final report is currently being completed and we anticipate that it will be available on the Colorado Energy Office website by the beginning of 2018.
In advance of the final report, the results of this demonstration project program have been shared by members of the Lotus team with audiences both regionally and nationally at the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA event) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) annual meeting in September. To view Emily Artale's presentation on this project to CESA, please go here.
Greenhouse Gas Inventories
In 2017, Lotus worked with several clients to track greenhouse gas emissions, and we have recently completed inventories for the Cities of Boulder and Park City, Utah. Our customized services are designed to meet each client's needs; this means that for each community with whom we work we have identified and developed an appropriate monitoring tool, created a detailed inventory management plan, and provided reports that compare inventories across time to track each community's individual progress. We even worked the City of Lafayette, CO to re-create their existing GHG inventory to be GPC compliant, ensuring that Lafayette they can continue to track their emissions and compare them to other communities globally.
We would be pleased to assist your community in identifying and tracking your GHG emissions, which is an important first step towards climate action. For more information on these services click here.
An Energy Efficiency Program for All Residents of the Gunnison Valley
Lotus was hired in 2017 by the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority to develop and administer a suite of home energy efficiency programs for all residents of the Gunnison Valley, with an emphasis on income-qualified homes. The Gunnison Valley Home Energy Advancement Team (GV-HEAT) will officially launch in the coming months--look for more information on this program soon!
Denver 80x50 Plan Response
Lotus facilitated the City and County of Denver's stakeholder process for the development of their 80x50 Plan--a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. As part of this effort, Denver used a survey to solicit responses from residents and folks working in the City and County to better understand the support for this work and how to prioritize these efforts.
The survey proved to be a great tool for public input, with over 1,500 individual responses collected. While the survey results are still being analyzed, you can read the full 80x50 Climate Goal: Stakeholder Report here.
Do you have an upcoming sustainability program or project that requires the input of a wide audience of stakeholders? Contact us to discuss how we may be able to assist in making this process efficient and informative for all parties.
Opportunities to Get Involved
The holiday season brings with it many opportunities to get together, learn from each other, and make an impact on the sustainability work that is important to us all. Lotus will be attending the following events this season, and we would love to see you there:
The Sustainable Denver Summit, hosted by the City and County of Denver, will be held on December 5th at the Colorado Convention Center. This fantastic event is a great opportunity to learn more about and become involved in the great sustainability work happening across our region. Emily Artale and Julia Ferguson will be in attendance--please connect with them while you are there!
The Resilient Denver event on December 11th, hosted by Denver Environmental Health, will prove to be a great forum for discussing the elements of building healthy communities that remain strong and resilient in the face of climate change. Join Julia Ferguson at this exciting event, free to the public.
The Colorado Communities Symposium, hosted by the State of Colorado, the Compact of Colorado Communities, and the Association of Climate Change Officers, is a three-day symposium for Colorado leaders interested in taking action on climate change. Lotus is excited to attend this event, and we look forward to meeting you there!
October 2017 Newsletter
The team at Lotus has been busy over the last few months helping our clients complete comprehensive greenhouse gas inventories and develop sustainability strategies to achieve their aggressive climate action goals. Read below to learn more about these projects, our new teammate, take a survey (if you work or live in Denver), or see if you could benefit from a recycling grant. As always. please contact us with any questions or to learn more!
Denver 80x50 Climate Goal: Stakeholder Report and Public Outreach Survey
Lotus lead the City and County of Denver's 80x50 facilitation and strategy development process for their 80x50 Climate Goal Stakeholder Report. We worked with Denver and a group of expert stakeholders to identify ambitious, yet feasible, GHG emission reduction strategies to meet Denver's 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 plan. We also modeled these strategies for their relative impact on GHG emissions and on secondary criteria such as cost, ease of implementation, impacts on social equity and environmental justice, public health, and air quality. You can see the report by clicking here.
Alongside the report, Denver launched a public outreach effort to solicit input on potential targets and strategies to achieve Denver’s Climate Action Plan goal. Those who live and/or work in Denver are encouraged to take a survey and provide comments on the report by October 31st, 2017. Based on the 80x50 Climate Goal: Stakeholder Report and the public input, Denver will be releasing its strategies for reaching the goal. More information on the survey can be found at
Greenhouse Gas Accounting
Lotus is working with many cities and counties on their GPC compliant greenhouse gas accounting. Alongside these inventories, we have created accompanying data management tools and inventory management plans. The data management tool is designed to easily input inventory values into ICLEI's ClearPath. We have also updated past greenhouse inventories to be GPC compliant. For more information on these services click here.
Blog: Overview of Compact of Mayors
Do you have questions about the Compact of Mayors and how joining the Compact will impact and benefit your community? Check out our latest blog post, 'Overview of the Compact of Mayors,' and contact us to learn more.
Boulder Housing Partners: Behavioral Change Program Success
Lotus lead an Energy Empowerment Project where we provided Boulder Housing Partners with real-time, unit-level information about electricity use; provided residents with targeted feedback about their electricity consumption; and employed a variety of scientific approaches for motivating, engaging, and empowering residents to reduce electricity consumption. The project was specifically designed to be replicable for similar communities in BHP’s portfolio.
The results of the engagement program illustrate the impact that programs of this type can have on residents' energy usage. During our engagement program, Boulder Housing Partners realized the following results for the units with which we worked:
9.3% reduction in electricity usage
4.5% reduction in energy costs on their utility bills
You can see the report by clicking here.
There are lots of opportunities to get involved in local and regional sustainability efforts, and we strive to help you grow your impact. Consider learning more and participating in the following this month:
The City and County of Denver is seeking input on the 80x50 Climate Goal. If you live or work in Denver, please provide your valuable insight by going to http://www.denvergov.org/80x50 and clicking on 'Take Survey.'
The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment is now accepting applications for the Recycling Resources and Economic Opportunity Program Mini-Grants for Equipment, Supplies, and Outreach Materials. Funds up to $25,000 can be requested to support your programs and efforts. Learn more at https://colorago.gov/recycling-grants. Application deadline is October 31.
In September, Lotus staff joined teams from the Colorado Energy Office and the National Renewable Energy Lab to present findings from a forthcoming report on low-income community solar projects and their impact on utility co-ops and subscribers.
Attendees to the annual meeting of the National Association of State Energy Officials in New Orleans benefited from learning about the CEO's innovative demonstration project and how these programs may be expanded and implemented outside of Colorado.
Introducing Julia Ferguson, PMP, MURP
We are thrilled to announce the addition of Julia Ferguson to our team. Julia started in June and has already added great value to our clients through her sustainability program implementation, urban planning, policy development, and writing skills! For more information on Julia’s background click here or you can reach her directly at Julia@lotussustainability.com. She would love to chat!
May 2017 Newsletter
I joined a community solar program, now what?
So you’ve signed a contract to receive power from a community solar program. Congratulations! This decision has great benefits for the environment and your wallet. Now it's time to take a closer look at your monthly electric bill to make sure that you’re maximizing your benefits.
Lotus began a few exciting new projects this month. Greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting seems to be the theme of the season for us with new projects with Boulder County and City of Boulder.
Boulder County Emissions Reduction
Lotus is working with Boulder County to complete their 2016 GHG inventory and analyze the GHG reduction potential of a number of mitigation strategies to help set a realistic, impactful GHG reduction target for 2035 and 2050.
City of Boulder GHG
Lotus was selected to update the City of Boulder's GHG inventory. Boulder has emissions reduction goals set for 2030 and 2050. We look forward to helping them continue to succeed.
Kudos to the HRCA!
Congratulations to the Highlands Ranch Community Association (HRCA) for moving forward with their new community solar garden! Read more in the Highlands Ranch Herald.
As part of our continuing sustainability blog series, we are happy to announce our new blog titled An Overview of Energy Outreach Colorado: A Conversation with Andy Caler. Environmental Justice issues are a top priority for many of our clients; therefore we were thrilled to ask Andy Caler a few questions about his work. We hope that you find our blog valuable and will share it with your friends and colleagues.
Recently we have been busy with some great projects:
We are helping the City and County of Denver facilitate and develop their 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 climate plan.
In partnership with ICLEI, we have conducted GPC-compliant greenhouse gas inventories for the Cities of Lakewood and Boulder as part of the Compact of Mayor's requirements.
We continue to evaluate community solar garden projects including a review for Highlands Ranch Community Association and evaluating multiple low-income community solar demonstration projects with GRID Alternatives and NREL for the Colorado Energy Office.
We also continue to work with Boulder Housing Partners on an energy empowerment project that will reduce residents electricity use through behavioral change.
As part of our continuing sustainability blog series, we are happy to announce our new blog titled Finding Regional Consistency in GHG Accounting: The Compact of Mayors Agreement and the GPC. We hope that you find our blog valuable and will share it with your friends and colleagues.
We have recently been involved in some great projects:
Helping Boulder Housing Partners reach their goal of becoming the nation's first net-zero energy housing authority.
Developing and managing an RFP process for the upcoming Colorado Energy Futures Study for the Alliance Center.
Preparing Energy Performance Contracting outreach case studies for the Colorado Energy Office and Pollution Prevention outreach case studies for the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.
In partnership with ICLEI, we are creating a 2015 GPC-compliant greenhouse gas inventory with accompanying data management tool and inventory management plan for the City of Lakewood.
As many of you may be aware Emily’s 7-year tenure as a Colorado Energy Office EPC consultant will be coming to an end August 31st. We will now have more time to grow our other services and continue to find innovative and world-changing projects!
May 3, 2016
Greetings friends and colleagues,
Last week, Lotus was fortunate to speak with Paul Scharfenberger, the Director of Finance and Operations at the Colorado Energy Office, about the new financing tool being rolled out called Colorado’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (“Colorado C-PACE”). Since many of our clients are interested in C-PACE, we were thrilled to ask him a few questions in our latest blog: An Overview of Colorado C-PACE: A Conversation with Paul Scharfenberger.
We have recently been involved in some great projects:
We have completed numerous GHG inventories for public and private sector clients using The Climate Registry and Global Protocol for Community-Scale GHG Emission (GPC) protocols.
We helped the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) better understand how the Community Solar Gardens Act low-income carve out is being achieved. The report is now available on the CEO website.
We continue to support the CEO's and the Missouri Department of Economic Development's Energy Performance Contracting programs.
We are working with Boulder Housing Partners to roll out an energy empowerment project that will reduce energy use through behavioral change.
Hillary and Emily
December 7, 2015
New business certification and a new journal article! Plus, we are helping Cities achieve international recognition for their sustainability efforts.
Greetings friends and colleagues,
We hope everyone is enjoying the beginnings of the holiday season. Here is some recent news from Lotus Engineering and Sustainability:
Lotus is now a DBE, SBE, M/WBE, and EBE certified company.
Lotus's work helped the City of Lakewood be selected for the Cities100 publication! The Cities100 publication highlights 100 solutions that cities across the world are doing to take action on climate change on a global scale. Lotus was asked by the City of Lakewood to create emission calculators to help design appropriate, measurable, and achievable climate change strategies. This work is highlighted as one of the top strategies! You can read the report by clicking here (see page 80).
Look for our article in the next edition of the award-winning Natural Gas and Electricity Journal titled Community Solar Presents Rewards and Risks. Please contact us directly if you would like a copy of the article.
As part of our continuing sustainability blog series, we are happy to announce our new blog titled Low-Income Solar Success Stories. We hope that you find our blog valuable and will share it with your friends and colleagues.
NOVEMBER 20, 2015
Lotus's work helps City of Lakewood be selected for the Cities100 publication.
The Cities100 publication highlights 100 solutions that cities across the world are doing to take action on climate change on a global scale. Lotus was asked by the City of Lakewood to create emission calculators to help design appropriate, measurable, and achievable climate change strategies. This work is highlighted as one of the top strategies! You can read the report by clicking here (see page 80).
NOVEMBER 5, 2015
Lotus Engineering and Sustainability is now a DBE, SBE, M/WBE, and EBE certified company.
We are pleased to announced that Lotus has been approved for certification in four programs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Small Business Enterprise, Minority/Women Business Enterprise, and Emerging Business Enterprise) through the City and County of Denver.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2015
New projects, a new move, and a new business certification!
Greetings friends and colleagues,
We hope everyone has had a great summer and is enjoying the beginnings of fall. Here is some recent Lotus Engineering and Sustainability news:
We are happy to announce that we have signed a contract with the Colorado Energy Office to complete an evaluation that will provide greater insight into how well Colorado community solar garden subscribers are complying with the low-income carve-out rule outlined in House Bill 10-1432 and also help identify barriers, opportunities, and best practices for increasing low-income access to shared solar.
Emily has officially moved to Crested Butte. Besides living in one of the most beautiful places in Colorado (the world?), Emily is now able to better serve our Western Slope clients.
Look for our upcoming article in the next edition of the award-winning Natural Gas and Electricity Journal tentatively titled Community Solar Rewards and Risks.
We are also currently working on our Women Owned Business certifications through the Small Business Administration and Denver's Office of Economic Development.
As part of our continuing sustainability blog series, we are happy to announce our new blog titled Finding Money. We hope that you find our blog valuable and will share it with your friends and colleagues.
AUGUST 11, 2015
Lotus Engineering and Sustainability and Merrill Group are joining forces!
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
It has been a very busy summer for Lotus Engineering and Sustainability and Merrill Group. We have partnered on great projects for the City of Lakewood, CLEER, and the Colorado Energy Office on a range of topics including energy efficiency and renewable energy finance, energy performance contracting, solar gardens, and sustainability goal planning.
Through these projects and through the many years we (Emily and Hillary) have worked together it became clear that it made sense for us to join forces in a more official capacity. As such, Merrill Group is merging with Lotus. Our complimentary skillsets allow us to bring additional expertise to our clients in a more streamlined fashion. Together we are able to help clients look at their environmental and social initiatives from various perspectives including public relations, financial, political, and engineering. In return, we are able to take complicated problems, analyze various solutions and strategies, and provide clients with defensible and effective next steps.
Emily Artale, Co-Owner and Principal Engineer at Lotus
Hillary Dobos, Co-Owner and Principal at Lotus
FEBRUARY 20, 2015
Welcome to 2015! The end of 2014 proved to be a very busy time for us and we have some exciting news to share!
Lotus recently developed customized calculators to determine the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction potentials which will support the City of Lakewood’s 2015 DRAFT Sustainability Plan. The reduction estimates will be used to help vet sustainability strategies and to help the City set GHG emission target values. Emily Artale flew to San Diego, CA to present The Risks and Rewards of Community Solar on a NREL panel for the 2015 Energy, Utility, and Environment Conference. This presentation provided recommendations to organizations that are considering developing their own community solar offerings. Emily will also be participating on NREL’s upcoming working group on community solar titled Marketing to Community Solar Participation: The State’s Role in Reducing in Risk. This working group will help inform state agencies and municipalities on how to market community solar to potential subscribers and prepare them for risk.
Merrill Group provided due diligence and request for proposal support for several clients, as well as helped review several documents including a document for the Rocky Mountain Institute titled "The Path to a Deep Energy Retrofit using an Energy Savings Performance Contract”.
Hillary Dobos also gave birth to her second son, Rodger, in December and has enjoyed her maternity leave.
As we enter this new year we hope to continue engaging with our clients by providing data and information that helps inform and simplify the decision-making process. And we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact us to discuss your energy and sustainability needs and visit our websites at http://www.merrillgroupllc.com/ and www.lotussustainability.com