KOTO received a 2021 Telluride Green Grant to replace the windows on the Purple House on Pine. (Courtesy photo)

In the fall, the Town of Telluride, in partnership with EcoAction Partners administrators, sought applications for the 2021 cycle of Telluride Green Grants. The green grants program is an opportunity for local nonprofits, businesses and residents to apply for capital project funding in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the Telluride community.  The 2019 program resulted in funding for seven implemented projects, with a cumulative estimated emissions reduction of 100 tons of carbon annually, according to a recent EcoAction Partners news release.

The recent 2021 grant cycle received nine applications that requested a total of nearly $144,000, which made the process for awarding the available $50,000 budget “very competitive,” according to Kim Wheels, EcoAction Partners interim director and energy specialist.

In the end, the review committee based their selection on immediate results, tangible and measureable outcomes, higher matching of funds, comfort for residents and energy use reduction in the building stock, and support to existing operations that are already reducing GHG emissions.

Grants were awarded to the following organizations and individuals:

Dirty Sturdy’s Compost for equipment to expand an already successful home compost pickup program to enable greater collection and transportation of food waste from the community to Hastings Mesa for composting. 

The Spruce House Compost Pilot Program for compost collection containers and third-party collection service for each unit in The Spruce House, a Telluride affordable housing building, to create an easy replicable composting program for all building residents. 

KOTO Radio for window replacement to complete the replacement of older, drafty windows in the Purple House on Pine.

The Blue House for door replacement to reduce drafts and increase thermal insulation effectiveness of a green rental home in Telluride.

Beaver Pond Homeowners Association for insulation and window replacement during a siding replacement project. Viking Lodge Homeowners Association for window replacement and weatherization services. Wilkin Court Homeowners Association for replacement of furnaces for a portion of the units.  

“It was inspiring to see all of these creative and well thought-out projects,” Wheels said. “Thank you very much to the Town of Telluride for offering this program to help members of the Telluride community reduce their carbon footprint and move toward the community’s carbon neutral goal.”

The grants are funded using monies from the Telluride Energy Mitigation Program, a program that requires mitigation of energy used by exterior energy systems installed on new construction projects such as driveway snowmelt systems, heated garages, and exterior pools and spas, she added. If energy used by these systems is not mitigated through on-site renewable energy, then a fee in-lieu of mitigation is required to allow the town to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions on behalf of the project. 

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have factored into the most recent grant cycle to an extent, Wheels explained. There wasn’t necessarily more of a need, as there were 14 applicants requesting $200,000 in total funds in 2019, compared to the nine requesting $144,000 this year.

“I don't believe that the pandemic created more of a perceived need among Telluride residents and businesses, although more people in fact are likely shorter on funds and energy efficiency to reduce utility bills can always help in that situation,” she said. “Instead it seems that the pandemic has to some degree reduced the overall level of focus, interest, willingness and ability of people to focus on GHG reduction, energy use reduction and other aspects of sustainability. The pandemic seems to have temporarily taken over as a prime concern, so regardless of the fact that climate change is just as much of a concern as it was before, there's a limit to how much people can and are willing to take on at one time. Most of the applications we received were from people who and organizations that, for the most part, always have reducing GHG emissions and sustainability issues as a high priority.”