BOULDER DAILY CAMERA | MARCH 22, 2015

PACE offers sustainability one-stop shop for Boulder County businesses

Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE) — which is funded by Boulder County, Boulder and Longmont and provides services throughout the county — has re-launched this year as a one-stop shop for technical advice, rebates, incentives and certification for business sustainability. PACE advisers can help a business reduce its energy use, send less waste to the landfill, use water more efficiently and support employees in driving less.

"We might get a call from someone who is interested in doing solar panels," said Boulder sustainability spokeswoman Colette Crouse. "An adviser can come out and help you with solar stuff, help you understand the options, help you apply for rebates, and then make some other suggestions for energy efficiency and ask if you want to work on addressing your waste stream."

PACE has been providing a variety of environmentally oriented services for a while now. For example, the commercial side of EnergySmart, which provides energy advisers, rebates and incentives for energy efficiency upgrades, was already under PACE's umbrella.

But most people didn't know that, Crouse said, and that created confusion among business owners about where to turn for help.

Crouse said the hope is that by rebranding PACE as a one-stop shop, more businesses will seek assistance across a range of areas.

PACE provides certifications for sustainable practices related to energy, waste and water and is in the process of developing a certification related to transportation. PACE advisers can help businesses develop carpooling, van-sharing and bike-sharing programs and look for other ways to reduce driving.

So far, more than 300 businesses have obtained at least one certification.

"The concept behind the rebranding is to streamline those services and allow businesses to access anything they need related to sustainability under a single roof," Crouse said. "There is a recognition that integration is crucial to make the real impact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

From 2011 to 2013, a federal Better Buildings Grant provided most of the funding for energy efficiency rebates and incentives. That funding has gone away, but local sources have now expanded the program beyond its previous levels.

For 2015, Boulder County is providing $400,000 toward the $1.4 million budget, while Boulder is providing $684,000 and Longmont is providing $275,000. The Keep It Clean Partnership, which includes all Boulder County communities, provides another $50,000 for stormwater protection.

Andy Minden, founder and president of Boulder Treasures, which operates Ramble on Pearl, said PACE was helpful in adopting energy efficiency and waste reduction measures. Ramble on Pearl sells discounted high-quality active wear to support programs that provide job training for people with developmental disabilities.

"When we went through our remodel, we had to put in a bunch of new lighting and replace the incandescent lighting," Minden said. "As a nonprofit, we wanted to be as cost-conscious as possible. They guided us toward the appropriate choice of produce and helped us with the rebate process with the lighting, which was very useful."

PACE also helped Ramble improve its recycling processes, Minden said.

Stephanie Stoss, office manager and consumer relations specialist at Justin's Nut Butter, said PACE created custom composting signs for its new plant that described all the products used in the plant and whether they went in the trash, recycling or composting.

"It's a great change," Stoss said. "The amount of paper towels — that's the thing that really hurts my heart to go into the trash — that's been really awesome."

Justin's is working toward a certification for waste reduction, and Stoss said she would like to look at transportation issues in the future.

Boulder is in the process of adopting commercial recycling and composting requirements and considering commercial energy efficiency standards, similar to those imposed on residential landlords.

Crouse said the consolidation of services under PACE was not in direct response to those initiatives, but the adviser services would help businesses get a head start on compliance.

"The support services available through PACE really complement the proposed requirements around commercial energy efficiency and recycling and composting," she said.

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