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Posted: March 01, 2010

2010 Sustainability Champion: Ann Livingston, Boulder County Sustainability Coordinator

Her loan program finances green projects for homeowners and businesses

Mike Cote

Ann_SustainabilityAwards1.jpg

Any entity considering creating a position called "sustainability coordinator" might want to check with Boulder County for a job description: Ann Livingston, one of six winners in the 2010 Sustainability Champion Awards, has set the bar pretty high for that title.

Livingston developed and implemented the city's ClimateSmart Loan Program, which enables homeowners and business owners to invest in efficiency and renewable energy through a financing program tied to property taxes. The program led to investment of $10 million countywide in its first year.

"What we're finding prior to launching the ClimateSmart loan program is that while we offered access to energy audits and energy counseling and some technical assistance there was still a major barrier for many people who wanted to improve their homes and businesses," Livingston said. "They didn't have cash up front to make the improvements and in many cases didn't have access to private sector capital and conventional bank loans."

The Sustainability Champion Awards are a program of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Environmental Partnership partnered, Connected Organizations for a Responsible Economy (CORE), and ColoradoBiz. The program is sponsored by PAETEC, a New York-based telecom company that delivers data and voice services in 84 metro markets including Denver.

Here's a sampling of the metrics the judges examined and how Livingston's work stacked up:

Economy: The ClimateSmart Loan Program is structured to support local businesses and retain and create local jobs.

Society: Boulder County has helped initiate similar programs in other counties and cities in Colorado. Livingston is working with state legislators to help regionalize the program.

Innovation: The program makes it sensible for homeowners and business owners to invest in energy measures because the debt is repaid through property taxes that stay with the property.

Education: ClimateSmart's website (beclimatesmart.com) includes sustainability strategies for individuals and households.

Environment: Livingston was responsible for managing the development of Boulder County's Sustainable Energy Plan, which includes reducing the county's emissions to 11 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and was adopted by communities throughout the county. She also developed the county's Zero Waste Plan, the Commercial Green Energy Building Codes, enhanced REAP (Residential Energy Action Program), and the ClimateSmart Education/Outreach Program. County officials attribute those programs for generating 1,000 jobs.

"Ann will continue to lead our community toward achieving sustainability goals that we did not know we could fully realize," said Spencer Villwock, deputy director for the Center for ReSource Conservation, in a letter endorsing Livingston's nomination for the Sustainability Champion Award.{pagebreak:Page 1}

Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at mcote@cobizmag.com.

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