Mountain Village: Where The New Normal Is Old Normal

Mountain Village: Where The New Normal Is Old Normal

To learn more about Mountain Village’s resident incentive programs, go here. To take action with MountainFilm’s “The New Normal,” take the pledge today by visiting here. A few Palmyra passes to Mountainfilm are still available. Go here.


In the toy town of Ashton Hayes in rural Cheshire England, population 1000, residents banded together to deal with what is arguably the most essential story of our time: climate change. Over a 10+-year period, the countryside village managed to reduce its carbon footprint by about a whopping 40 percent using simple, no-brainer tweaks: replacing dryers with clotheslines; installing solar panels; glazing windows to better insulate their homes; even taking fewer flights.

The goal there is to become carbon neutral.

As goes Ashton Hays, so goes the Telluride region – with Mountain Village in the vanguard?

Through its New Normal initiative – also the subject of the 2017 Moving Mountains Symposium – under director David Holbrook, Mountainfilm is leading that charge, with Mountain Village an already active partner.

Since announcing that initiative in December 2016, Mountainfilm has launched a community battery-recycling site, started office-wide composting, become certified as a Green Business through EcoAction Partners, and is offsetting the travel of its festival guests and staff who come from far and wide – one of whom is Garry Carnock, an Ashton Hays resident and former journalist with a background in environmental science, specifically hyrdology, who spearheaded his town’s campaign. Charnock is presenting at the Moving Mountains Symposium, Friday morning, May 26, starting at 9 a.m. at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village.

Last count, about 200 towns, cities, and counties around the world — including Notteroy, Norway; Upper Saddle River, N.J.; and Changhua County, Taiwan — have reached out to Carnock and Ashton Hays to learn how the villagers there did what they did – including now the Telluride region through Mountainfilm.

However, before The New Normal became a bee in festival director David Holbrooke’s baseball cap, the Town of Mountain Village was already in the business of motivating residents to change their habits towards a more sustainable lifestyle and community. Because at the end of the day, reducing our carbon footprint and generally living a greener life comes down to behavioral change or cleaning up our own little patch of earth.

In 2008, yes nine years ago, Mountain Village adopted a resolution establishing a goal of zero waste (or darn close) for the community by the year 2025. And, after adopting the Colorado Climate Action Goal of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from baseline totals, since 2010, Mountain Village managed to achieve an average 16% reduction from government operations at each facility using a variety of efficiency, conservation, and alternative energy measures recommended by individual energy audits.

Other Mountain Village green programs include:

Relight Mountain Village LED Discounts, 2014-2015-2016

• Total CO2 Avoided: 2,822,398 lbs. annually
• Total kWh saved: 1,421,639 annually
• Total bulbs installed: 15,510

Solar Energy Community Incentives

• Awarded over $8,000 to community members for 18.35 KW solar installed
• $10,000 awarded to community for rebates on SMPA community solar panels

 Roof and Gutter Heat Tape Community Incentives

• Awarded $1,000 in free heat tape controls to 3 residential households

Noxious Weed Control Community Incentives

• 2014-2015 Awarded $17,500 in noxious weed control rebates to over 50 residential and OSP parcels in community after adoption of Weed Management Plan for community

 Wildfire Mitigation/Forest Health Community Incentive Program

• 2016 awarded $80,000 in Defensible Space incentives to 28 residential properties; 45 properties engaged in DS education

 Water Conservation Community Incentive Program

• Launched in 2017 and will award free EPA WaterSense smart irrigation controls to all residential property owners

Green Gondola Project, designed to operate the “G,” the link between the towns of Mountain Village and Telluride, by obtaining a larger percentage of its juice from efficient and renewable sources.

• 100% SMPA Green Blocks renewable energy gondola offset annually since 2007
• 10 years offset = 20,000,000 total kWh offset to date
• 200,000 SMPA blocks of green energy purchased to date
• 20,000,000 total kWh offset = 38,600,000 lbs. CO2 avoided to date
• 160,000 KW of on-site solar installed on gondola terminals
• Solar panels producing 240,000 kWh solar energy annually
• Solar panels avoiding 463,200 lbs. CO2 annually

Impressive, no doubt.

And the beat goes on.

The Town of Mountain Village is investing over $120,000 in community incentive programs focused on the environment. The reason for doing so is simple and two-fold: Mountain Village wants to give its community members the power to make a difference and, as Ashton Hays is proving, it is much easier to make a larger impact together than solo.

The town is doing that by rewarding folks for reducing their carbon footprint and addressing the impacts of climate change. The Town’s incentive programs are a fun way to educate the community about our environment, then engage everyone with meaningful actions to protect our outdoors and conserve our natural resources.

All told, four programs will launch on or around Memorial Day Weekend, coinciding with Mountainfilm, and are part of the town’s larger ethos of protecting the environment outside of its 3.27-square-mile radius.

“As a community, it is important to educate and reward our residents for doing the right thing, rather than regulating them into compliance. Our incentive programs do just that,” said Bill Kight, director of marketing and business development “Additionally, we are a firm believer of practicing what we preach to our residents and invite them to join our efforts to reduce our community’s impact on the environment through these local incentive programs.”

Here are specific few ways the Town of Mountain Village plans to put its money where its mouth is and initiate or continue to help put meat on the bones of the Mountainfilm-led grand slam push, The New Normal.

Solar energy: Mountain Village averages 300 days of sunshine annually. Launched in 2014, the Solar Energy Incentive Program awards a rebate of $.40 per watt for power generated by the sun on your Mountain Village home or business. This is in addition to local, state, and federal financial incentives.

Energy Efficiency: The town is funding a Heat Trace Incentive Program to improve the efficiency of heat trace systems commonly applied on roofs and gutters by offering a free system controller to each participant. With the use of controls, residents can save 30-50 percent of their electricity costs each winter.

Water conservation: When it comes to water, Mountain Village is asking that residents use only what they need. In turn, Mountain Village will pay for the entire cost of locals’ EPA WaterSense-certified smart irrigation control system with weather-sensing capability for lawns and gardens.

Forest health: Climate change dries out our forests and increases the risk of wildfire – and every home and property in Mountain Village has been evaluated for its own wildfire risk. When residents create defensible spaces on their property to reduce wildfire risk, the town will reimburse the owner up to $500.

Do grassroots initiatives really make a difference? According to entrepreneur/environmentalist/author Paul Hawken the answer is a resounding “yes.” That was his message of his book“Blessed Unrest,” presented to a standing room only crowd at The Palm at Mountainfilm in 2007.

Hawken is back this year to speak at the Moving Mountains Symposium (about The New Normal).

How far will Mountain Village and Mountainfilm be able to go towards achieving a mutual goal of carbon neutrality in the Telluride region? Hard to say, but the journey has begun. And life is not about the destination. It is all about the steps we take to get there. Even baby steps count, such as the ones Ashton Hays residents are taking everyday and the ones MountainFfilm suggests through The New Normal.

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