In its latest step forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, incentivize clean energy, and fund community electrification and energy efficiency projects, the Town of Breckenridge recently adopted the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP) to address fossil fuel energy use from outdoor amenities.
In 2022, the Town adopted the SustainableBreck Plan with a 10-year planning horizon identifying policies and programs to help achieve a range of sustainability goals across five categories – climate action, energy, water, mobility, and material management. After robust community input, the plan was finalized in September and sets the benchmark for future community action. REMP was identified as a priority policy.
“Many homeowners don’t realize the large emissions associated with outdoor energy use,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Owens. “In 2019, newly installed residential snowmelt systems used the energy equivalent of 37% of one of Breckenridge’s solar gardens. That doesn’t include the energy used by hot tubs, fire pits, and other amenities. Our goal is to encourage moderation, and this program is taking us in the right direction to accomplish that goal.”
Beginning August 16, residential and commercial building permits that propose fossil fuel consuming outdoor amenities such as pools, spas, firepits, and snowmelt systems will be required to mitigate the energy intensity with clean energy systems. Projects that opt out of mitigation are required to provide a payment-in-lieu to be reinvested in community energy saving projects like weatherization and electrification of existing homes and renewable energy systems on public buildings.
Building energy use, and associated outdoor energy use from amenities, account for 85 percent of Breckenridge’s greenhouse gas emissions as revealed by the most recent greenhouse gas emissions inventory in 2020. Statewide, that number drops to about one third. Building energy codes for new construction and large renovations already exceed energy standards in Breckenridge, but outdoor energy use tied to the same building meter is largely unregulated.
“In Breckenridge, we know that the building energy sector accounts for the vast majority of GHGs and is evenly split between commercial and residential,” said Jessie Burley, Sustainability and Parking Manager for the Town. “While our new construction energy codes have exceeded the standard since 2007, we have spent little time considering the impacts of our amenities that heat the outdoors. This is another tool in the toolbox to begin tracking and mitigating those impacts on our way to meeting our clean energy goals.”
Following nearly 24 months of stakeholder involvement and work sessions with the council, REMP and a companion ordinance in the development code, were adopted with changes limiting the overall number of natural gas fireplaces allowed on a project as well as setting an energy budget for certain outdoor appliances like gas ranges.
The program includes exemptions for both residential and commercial projects based on safety and efficiency. For example, roof heat tape for snowmelt is currently exempt, but proposed heat tape must still be reported under the program for educational and tracking purposes.
For more information, or to view the Breckenridge REMP calculator, contact the Breckenridge Building Department at 970-453-3160.