Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado is a national leader in urban sustainability – from its water conservation efforts to its early adoption of curbside recycling.

Now the city is tackling global warming pollution. By mid-century, Boulder plans to reduce its carbon emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels.

Brett KenCairn, Boulder’s senior environment and climate coordinator, says reaching the goal will require big changes.

KenCairn: “There’s no way we can achieve deep emissions reduction unless we dramatically decarbonize our electricity sources.”

So the city also committed to using 100 percent clean electricity by 2030.

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KenCairn: “We’re looking at dramatic adoption strategy and campaigns around solar, especially in the commercial sector.”

Updated city codes now require that new commercial buildings are wired for solar panels. And new homes above a certain size must generate as much clean energy as they use. To help, Boulder will provide incentives.

KenCairn: “We spend money on fossil-based energy every day. And if we think about using the money that we’re already spending in different ways, it actually opens up a whole series of new opportunities.”

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Street scene in downtown Boulder, Colorado.

Diana Madson

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...