EcoAction in Action: Overview/Introduction!

EcoAction in Action: Overview/Introduction!

Sustainability is defined as the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life.  In the 21st century, the word generally refers to the capacity for Earth’s biosphere and human civilization to co-exist.

Sustainability is the linchpin of Telluride’s EcoAction Partners. The nonprofit works independently and in collaboration with like-minded individuals and organizations to ensure an ever greener future for the Telluride region.

Below is an overview/introduction to the work of EcoAction Partners (or EAP), and thumbnails of the team. The post was written by its director and long-time Telluride local Emma Gerona. (For more on Emma, go here.) From now on, look for a column about the work of EAP – EcoAction in Action – written by a staff member every month.

EcoAction Partners has come a long way over the last 14 years from our start as The New Community Coalition, but we are still focused on moving the Telluride region towards a more sustainable future through energy and waste programming and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tracking and analysis.

We began our work in 2007 in partnership with San Miguel County, the Town of Telluride, and the Town of Mountain Village to support a collaborative community-based approach to sustainability work in the region. We still work closely with our eight regional governments and are proud to partner with local utilities, businesses, schools, organizations, festivals and more to create inclusive programming that represents all aspects of our community. We began our regional GHG inventory in 2010 and are excited to be rounding out a full decade of emissions data and analysis this year. We strongly support data-based climate solutions and, since 2007, have developed, grown and created the following programs to address key emission sources across the region.

EcoAction- Programming:


SMPA Income Qualified Weatherization Program

Residential building use accounts for 30% of our regional emissions. The program addresses this large portion of our GHG emissions and offers great economic and social benefits to our community.

A great opportunity exists for low- and middle-income residents in SMPA territory to receive free weatherization upgrades to lower their energy use and utility bills, and create a more safe and comfortable living spaces. Participants will also be enrolled in the SMPA IQ Community Solar Array to offset up to 50% of their energy use. Residential energy rates in our region are 23.4% higher than the national average*, and in such an extreme climate, those costs can add up. We understand the incredible impact that lowering one’s bills can have for residents in our community and look forward to continuing to grow the SMPA Income Qualified Weatherization Program.

Green Business Membership Program

Commercial building energy use accounts for approximately 20% of our region’s GHG emissions, not including the impact of materials, waste, and other businesses-related emissions.

Our Green Business Membership Program encourages businesses to make a high priority any energy efficiency changes that lower their energy use, create sustainability goals, and collaborate with other local businesses on community climate solutions.

Membership in the program unlocks access to free and highly discounted weatherization upgrades including SMART thermostats, LED bulbs and much more. We host bi-annual roundtable events for businesses to share best practices, challenges and opportunities for collaboration. One of these events led to the creation of our plastic film recycling program. We work with businesses to create a highly customized plan that works for them and their unique sustainability goals.


EcoAction makes it easy to access LED bulbs at a reasonable price. We offer the SMPA 50% bulb rebate upfront to avoid any unnecessary paperwork and the need to pay full price before receiving a rebate. With the support of our regional government partners, we have added an additional 25% off bulb price for a total 75% off pre-bate! Look for us at your local farmers market or place an order on our website.


Compost, Recycling, and Trash stations.

EcoAction Partners works with a number of local festivals and events to help reduce landfill waste and utilize the opportunity to engage attendees and vendors in continuing sustainability efforts at their home or business.

We work closely with event management to ensure the sourcing of local and organic food vendors, use of compostable and recyclable products, educate festival staff and attendees, and train and manage volunteers for

Plastic Film Upcycling

Born out of a Green Business Program roundtable event, this initiative works to address the high amount of plastic film in our region. Previously there were no recycling options for this material in the Telluride region.

EAP brings the plastic film to a TREX collection facility to be upcycled into decking and furniture. We host several public drop-off locations across the region and have individual businesses collection sites for those businesses who use a high volume of plastic film.

Outreach and Education:

Climate Action Plan

EcoAction Partners is excited to work in partnership with the Sneffels Energy Board, a regional coalition of government, utility, and community representatives focused on collaborative regional climate solutions. The goal is to update our regional Climate Action Plan.

EAP originally created a Sustainability Action Plan for the region in 2010 and is excited to update the document to reflect our goals, priorities and new partners for the next 10 years. This group continues to work collaboratively on regional challenges, including regional composting solutions, supporting SMPA efforts to increase our renewable energy supply, and reducing GHG emissions associated with building energy use.

Truth or Dare

Truth or Dare is EAP’s student program, which teaches kids the impact small actions can have on their carbon footprint. Students learn the truth about climate change, and complete dares to lower their emissions. We recognize the importance of environmental educational programming and are always excited by the students’ enthusiasm for climate action.

Community Support

As the regional sustainability resource, our team is committed to staying up to date on all things sustainability. We provide resources and information around community composting solutions, energy efficiency measures, local, state and federal rebates, programming and more. We prioritize collaborative programming and projects that can move our region to a more sustainable future and are available to support those efforts as they arise.

Meet the team:

Emma Gerona – Executive Director

Emma was born and raised in Telluride and grew up with a passion for sustainability and a love for this incredible region. She graduated from The University of Colorado, Boulder with a B.S. in Business, specializing in Finance and Socially Responsible Enterprise.

Emma has worked with various nonprofits including The American Solar Energy Society and Lake County Resources Initiatives focusing to promote sustainability in rural communities through programming, outreach, and education. S

he leads the EAP team, coordinates programming and supports Telluride’s extended community in their sustainability goals and initiatives.

Kim Wheels – Energy Specialist

Kim holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, which she followed with over 8 years of experience with power and design engineering firms.

Kim has worked with EcoAction Partners since the organization’s inception to coordinate the Sneffels Energy Board, track regional GHG emissions and present on progress towards regional goals to our governments and communities. She also works to engage the community through EcoAction’s programs and assists the building departments with maintaining updated Building Energy Codes.

Jacqueline Hess – Weatherization Program Manager

Jacque is a creative, innovative mechanical engineer with knowledge, passion, and experience in the field of energy and sustainability. Her experience varies from performing on-site energy audits to working in the fields of oil and gas, wind energy and solar. Jacque is passionate about improving our environment and working toward the integrity and care of our planet in all aspects, from art fused with sustainability to energy engineering.

Burton Richards – Energy Auditor

Burton is a BPI Certified Building Analyst who joined EcoAction Partners as the SMPA IQ Weatherization Program auditor in early 2021. He transitioned to the Western Slope from the Denver metro area where he was working with Groundwork Denver, another non-profit organization doing income qualified weatherization projects.

Burton is a former Marine who obtained his Masters in the Environment, specializing in renewable and sustainable energy from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Adrian Bergere – Energy Programs Coordinator

Adrian coordinates EcoAction’s Energy Programming, working with businesses, greenlight sales, SMPA rebates, and BHE trade ally programming.

Adrian holds a B.S. in Geology from SUNY GENESEO and brings a passion for the environment to his work as the Interim Director for the San Miguel County Watershed Council and coordination of EAP’s Energy programming.

Tyler Simmons – Zero Waste Coordinator

Tyler is a local musician whose passion for the environment brought him to the EcoAction team.  hecoordinates EAP’s waste related programming, from CRT festival management to plastic film upcycling and all things compost.

Tyler began managing festival and event sustainability initiatives with ZeroHero in 2012 while studying Watershed Science at Colorado State University. After graduating, he moved to Telluride with a career in civil engineering and surveying. Following his passions, Tyler left that career to hop back into the sustainability world as the Zero Waste Coordinator at EcoAction Partners in 2017.

Chris Medary – Climate Action Fellow

Chris is currently pursuing his Masters in Environmental Management From Western Colorado University. In 2012, he graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering and Applied Ecology from McGill University in Montreal.

As an AmeriCorps VISTA, Chris is supporting our region in building additional community solar capacity, specifically for income-qualified residents. He also supports the Sneffels Energy Board in the Climate Action Plan process through coordination, research, and writing support.

Karissa Mielke – Truth or Dare Program Coordinator

Karissa graduated from Montana State University with a degree in Environmental Studies. She has worked at a number of nonprofits in both Montana and Colorado, including her current work with Pinhead Institute helping with their student programming.

Karissa coordinates EAP’s Truth or Dare program, school outreach and curriculum development.


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