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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Denver Energy Challenge

Denver, Colorado

Federal Funding: $491,156
Project Timeline: February 2010 – September 2012

Latest Update

The Denver Energy Challenge has completed its activities under the Climate Showcase Communities grant program and is continuing to transition into a longer-term, sustainable program. As of September 2012, the Denver Energy Challenge for Businesses program had over 1,000 participating businesses and continued to host and support outreach events and workshops. The Denver Energy Challenge will now be supported through leveraged funds from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Grant and a grant from DOE’s State Energy Program. The Mile High Business Alliance updated their Colorado Local First website to feature some of the business participants.

Additionally, the Denver Public Schools Energy Challenge curriculum was finalized in late August, and the Denver Public Schools have been able to use the Climate Showcase Communities grant as seed funding to continue to support the School Energy Challenge. Lastly, Denver continues to promote clean transportation by producing local guides for businesses near bike share stations and bus stops. Denver purchased two electric vehicle charging stations and 15 bike racks to promote alternative transportation to restaurants and local businesses that participate in the city’s Green Business certification process. They have identified locations in the city for the charging stations and 12 of the 15 bike racks.

Photos and Videos

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Future Location & Details of EV Charging Station at Denver’s Sustainability Park: The first charging station will be installed in Denver’s Sustainability Park by the end of 2012.

Future Location & Details of EV Charging Station at Denver’s Sustainability Park: The first charging station will be installed in Denver’s Sustainability Park by the end of 2012.

Future Location of Charging Station at the Alliance Center: The second charging station will be installed at 1536 Wynkoop, Denver, CO in downtown Denver by February 2013.

Future Location of Charging Station at the Alliance Center: The second charging station will be installed at 1536 Wynkoop, Denver, CO in downtown Denver by February 2013.

Denver’s Department of Environmental Health Sustainability Team: The team, which runs the Denver Energy Challenge and Certifiably Green Denver programs, and received one of the mayor’s 5281 Awards for promoting sustainability in the city.

Denver’s Department of Environmental Health Sustainability Team: The team runs the Denver Energy Challenge and Certifiably Green Denver programs, and received one of the mayor’s 5281 Awards for promoting sustainability in the city.

Efficient Lighting Upgrades at the Atomic Cowboy.

Lighting Upgrades

Efficient Lighting Upgrades at the Atomic Cowboy.

Denver's Department of Environmental Health Sustainability Team, which runs the Denver Energy Challenge and Certifiably Green Denver programs, received one of the mayor's 5281 Awards for promoting sustainability in the city.

Team Receives Award

Denver's Department of Environmental Health Sustainability Team runs the Denver Energy Challenge and Certifiably Green Denver programs, received one of the mayor's 5281 Awards for promoting sustainability in the city.

Denver Energy Challenge

View a video on the benefits of the energy challenge and some case studies from participants. Exit Disclaimer

Denver Energy Challenge Business Program

View a video on the benefits of the energy challenges. Exit Disclaimer

Business Success - Evolutions

View a video on a case study from a participant. Exit Disclaimer

Business Success - 1515 Restaurant

View a video on a case study from a participant. Exit Disclaimer

Denver Green Streets

Interviews with participants. Exit Disclaimer

Efficient Lighting Upgrades at the Wynkoop Brewery.

Lighting Upgrades

Efficient Lighting Upgrades at the Wynkoop Brewery.

Volunteers reach out to Denver residents.

Volunteers reach out

Groundwork Denver coordinated door-to-door outreach in the Northeast Park Hill neighbourhood with 115 volunteers as part of the Martin Luther King Junior day of service.

Small Business Energy Program

Work is ongoing with participating businesses as they progress through the various stages of energy-project implementation. The map shows the businesses and districts participating in the program as of August 2010. Enlarge »

Neighborhood Action Energy Partnership

As of August 2010, 8 neighborhood-wide campaigns have been conducted by the City’s partner Groundwork Denver. An additional 13 are planned as illustrated on the map. Enlarge »

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Project Summary

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions at the Neighborhood Scale

The goal of Denver’s Energy Challenge is to develop projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the neighborhood level. The project consists of four elements:

  • greening small businesses,
  • expanding neighborhood sustainable mobility options,
  • providing incentives to support clean energy, and
  • engaging residents to reduce GHG emissions.

To support the greening of local small businesses, the City of Denver is providing workshops and education resources, developing energy action plans across business districts, and assisting small businesses through a "start-to-finish" energy-assistance package. The City is also working with businesses to increase sustainable mobility options in neighborhoods. To achieve this goal, the project is promoting local non-auto routes, helping businesses provide incentives to reduce vehicle travel, and promoting alternative fuels.

The project is also promoting the voluntary purchases of renewable energy and travel GHG emission offsets through a community "Energy Makeover" program. Neighborhoods that meet targets for purchasing renewable energy or travel offsets receive funding for energy efficiency upgrades or a renewable energy system at a local school or community building.

Finally, the City is encouraging residents to reduce GHG emissions from their homes. Through Denver's Neighborhood Energy Action Partnership, residents in high-need neighborhoods are gaining access to programs including: free curbside recycling, free tree planting, free CFL porch bulbs, energy audits, home weatherization for low-income families, and utility rebates.

Benefits of the Energy Challenge Project include lower GHG emissions and commercial energy use, and improved residential energy efficiency. The Energy Challenge also supported green job creation, and educates residents, students, and small business owners while influencing behavioral changes necessary for the long-term achievement of environmental objectives.

Community Characteristics

Population 599,000
Area 155 square miles
Government Type City and County
Community Type Urban
Median Household Income $46,305

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of September 2012) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 24,657 mt CO2e 28,745 mt CO2e
Annual Cost Savings $1.5 million not estimated
Businesses Participating 1000+ 250
Residences Participating 3,300 3,900

*Reported results include projects initiated with CSC funding and supported with additional Department of Energy funds.


Project Websites

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