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With its abundant fresh air, crystal clear blue skies and wide variety of natural wonders, it's no wonder that Denver takes being "green" seriously. Here's a quick look at some of the innovative ways that The Mile High City is setting new standards as an environmentally friendly metropolis.
If you want go green when it comes to taxis, Denver has service companies that operate hybrid vehicles. Metro Taxi and Yellow Cab have been doing it since 2006 and 2008, respectively, which made them national leaders.
The Mile High City is home to the largest city park system in the nation, with more than 200 parks in the city and an additional 14,000 acres of spectacular mountain parks. When you're here in Denver, you can get to dozens of attractions on foot, thanks to 85 miles of paved trails. Add in several pedestrian malls, including the famed 16th Street Mall, and it's clear that the city is the very definition of "walkable."
In the early '90s, Denver created the first "Green Fleet" program in the nation by purchasing alternative fuel vehicles for city use. Today, the city's Green Fleet remains one of the largest in the country. More than 43 percent of the fleet is powered by alternatives, including 138 hybrid electric vehicles, as well as vehicles fueled by propane, compressed natural gas and biodiesel. And that's just the beginning - the Green Fleet grows with each passing year.
An estimated 50,000 Democrats and members of the media flocked to The Mile High City in August 2008 for the Democratic National Convention. There were 10 Greening Task Teams in place to ensure the use of renewable energy, reduce waste and maximize recycling, provide green transportation options, manage and mitigate all carbon emissions and use green building and design practices, in addition to a host of other eco-friendly activities. Some of the greening efforts included: eco-friendly wooden key cards; the use of gobo's vs. vinyl banners in delegate hotels; recycled delegate bags, lanyards and water bottles; DVD and voicemail welcome messages vs. welcome letters to the delegates; newspaper kiosks vs. individual room deliveries; Zero Heroes at all waste stations to separate recycled, compostable and trash; and the use of a green merchandise.
Making an entire city Green takes a lot of work, and much of it is behind the scenes and technical. So it was with great vision that then-Mayor (and later Colorado governor) John Hickenlooper created Greenprint Denver, a comprehensive program that focuses on energy management and energy efficiency goals, and addresses specific goals for cleaner water, air, and land. From utilities and transportation to parks and LEED-certified city buildings, Greenprint Denver offers a comprehensive and measurable plan of action that few cities can match.
It may be one of the largest and busiest airports in the country, but the Denver International Airport (DEN) is dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint. The airport in the process of replacing its computer and flight monitors with energy-efficient LCD screens that require less heat and thus less energy for cooling. In 2004, DEN became the first commercial airport in the country to attain ISO 14001 certification for its Environmental Management System, which encompasses all activities within the 34,000-acre site. Furthermore, DEN recycles more than 19 materials on a regular basis as part of standard airport operations. Finally, the DEN fleet is 100 percent alternative and includes vehicles powered by compressed natural gas, hybrid technology and biodiesel. In 2008, DEN completed it's two megawatt solar power system that will generate over three million kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually.
When you hear that Denver is going green, you can take that literally. In 2006, the city introduced an ambitious tree planting program, with a goal of adding one million new trees in the metropolitan Denver area by the year 2025. The program has since morphed into an effort to also take care of the city's existing urban forest of 2.2 million trees.
From global warming and renewable energy to environmental cleanup, Denver is emerging as one of the premier places in the nation for a "green" learning vacation. Denver offers two national research centers that have tours and exhibits about the Earth's climate and renewable energy, and a world-class museum of nature and science. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (1850 Table Mesa Dr., Boulder), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (15013 Denver W. Pkwy., Golden) and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (2001 Colorado Blvd.) all offer fascinating and educational tours and exhibits that highlight the prominent role Mother Nature plays in Denver.
Denver Recycles is one of the city's most successful environmental programs. Annually, city workers collect more than 26,000 tons of recyclable materials, which generate an average of $800,000 in annual revenue.
In March of 2008, Ball Arena (1000 Chopper Cir.), the home of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche (not to mention a regular series of blockbuster concert events), announced that it would be the first arena in the United States to go 100 percent green. Plans are afoot for the 19,000-seat arena, which was the main site of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, to operate entirely on renewable wind and solar energy. The switchover will also include new recycling bins, a hybrid vehicle-only parking area and a "no idling zone" outside the arena.