Posted: August 28, 2014
Green Colorado 2014: TransportationMaria Martin & Nora Caley
Not many companies can boast the growth Boulder B-Cycle has shown since starting in 2011. Marketing communications manager Kevin Bell says the system originated with 12 stations and will be up to 38 this year.
B-Cycle digitally tracks its members and 150 bikes. About half of users are annual members, Bell says, while the others are primarily tourists or casual users. “One of our expansions will focus on transit hubs,” Bell says, explaining that the organization is financed from user fees, sponsorships and grants. Putting bikes in residential areas encourages people to pick up a bike and ride to hubs.
The group’s employees calculate that since its launch, B-Cycle has saved 11,000 gallons of gas – and as an added benefit helped people burn countless calories.
“On top of all the other impacts, it’s fun to ride,” he says. “That’s a plus many green programs don’t have.”
By promoting a new model for getting around, the environmental impacts associated with car ownership will be reduced, said Director Karen Worminghaus. “When they joined, about 31 percent of our clients did not own a car, and not long after they join, that rises to 46 percent,” said Worminghaus, adding that the organization has 3,100 members in Boulder and Denver.
“It inspires people to give up vehicles.”
Those who enroll have access to cars that are strategically scattered near residential areas and public transit hubs. For a monthly or annual fee, riders are given fobs and register to pick up their vehicles on a first-come, first-served basis. While most are eco-friendly vehicles, Worminghaus says vehicles like minivans, trucks and SUVs are available when and if necessary.
It makes sense to share vehicles on many levels, she said, noting that none of the company’s employees own cars. “If it costs you $15 to drive to the store, you might chose to walk or ride a bike to a nearby local store instead,” she said. “People reduce their driving when they car-share.”
And taking automobiles out of circulation takes a major load off the environment. Most cars are only used an hour or two a day, and sit idle the majority of the time.
Worminghaus said when you run the numbers on all those who have changed their lifestyles with car-share, either part or full-time, it has resulted in an overall reduction of 4,682,400 vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per year.
Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport recently developed a strategic plan that includes “investing in sustainability” as a key objective, and includes everything from the smallest details to the larger steps that make the fifth busiest airport in America a leader in environmental management.
“We have environmental impacts like a small city, with water, utilities and recycling, but beyond those traditional factors we have some that are specific to aviation,” said Scott Morrissey, director of environmental programs for the airport, which employs roughly 35,000 people.
Adding water bottle filling stations throughout concourses has saved the equivalent of 600,000 plastic bottles from the landfill. DIA collected 68 percent of all de-icing fluid during the 2012-13 winter season, preventing more than 710,000 gallons of propylene glycol from being released into the environment. And last year, DIA — the 15th busiest airport in the world as of last year — became the first commercial aiport in the country to design a plan of navigation that uses technology and procedures to fly more efficient routes, saving between 200 and 800 pounds of fuel per flight.
Morrissey points out that with the addition of a new solar system coming this summer, DIA will have a total of 10 MW of solar generating capacity.
In an industry known as being less than friendly to the environment, Green Garage mechanics are determined to be as green as possible, says marketing director Bonnie Benskin.
“Founder Ryan Ferrero worked in a car dealership, and he hated how they treated customers and the environment,” Benskin says.
Green Garage was created with the philosophy that if your car doesn’t need work, it won’t be touched. (Pro Tip: You really don’t need an oil change every 3,000 miles). The business works with the latest technology to use fewer products, reuse whatever possible, and recycle what can’t be used. The ultimate goal is to become a carbon-neutral zero waste shop.
And it’s to prove that the automotive industry doesn’t have to be as wasteful as it’s been for the past 50-plus years.
“This is an industry that hasn’t changed much,” Benskin says. “You see younger people coming to us because they approve of the way we do business, so we’ll keep growing.”
Maria Martin and Nora Caley are freelance writers.