Daily Archives: July 4, 2017

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The Inspiration of Tranquility

Sometimes a change of pace is the precise remedy. And that thought is just what inspired a couple to move from their traditional Vail home to a more secluded spot—a place that would be more a homestead and less a stopover on a ski vacation. They envisioned having a home somewhere that could, perhaps, become a permanent haven, fulfilling their artistic needs and an inherent desire for quiet. What they finally settled on is both gorgeous and seemingly remote, set in a small enclave of just a handful of homes.

Surrounded by trees and steep, striking hillsides and teeming with wildlife, the quiet enclave of Elk Meadows in Buffher Creek is just minutes from Vail proper and some of the world’s best skiing. Cradled amidst a grove of aspen, with views that span more wilderness than development, the property offers an inspiration for the wife’s writing acumen as well as a peaceful interlude from the husband’s hectic stints in surgery. It’s hard not to be creative when surrounded by nature’s glorious riot of colors, or serene while watching deer and moose wander through your backyard.

Developed by Solaris Redevelopment Company, the home on Buffher Creek’s topmost point is striking in its vertical placement on a steep slope. Yet, it is a surprisingly roomy 4,200 square feet, with abundant clean sweeps of space throughout its generous 10 rooms. Not a sprawling home, but architect Mike Suman of Suman Architects has maximized the home’s high, vaulted ceilings and wide windows to make the most of both inner and outer space. Case and point, the two story, glass-stone-and-steel entryway takes advantage of the mountain horizons and the open space surrounding the home on three sides.

The owners previous home, purchased furnished, was much more traditional in design. A mountainside home, it fit the original bill for this pair of avid skiers and second homeowners, with ease of access to Vail Mountain. But it didn’t fulfill their long-term vision of life in Vail. This Buffher Creek home, on the other hand, was brand new construction, a clean slate on which the couple could stamp their own needs and personalities.

WARM, MODERN LIVABILITY
From the dramatic entry, a grand sweep of steel staircase leads past floor-to-ceiling windows to the upper level and the main living space. Throughout the home, the steelaccents underscore the earthier elements of oak trim and rift-sawn, white oak slab doors and ceilings, Arrigoni wood floors, stone counters and wool carpets.

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Taking a cue from both the interior finishes and the owners’ preferences, Yvonne Jacobs and Kelsey Cole, lead designers with Slifer Designs, created more of a mountain contemporary look, with hints of mid-century modern. The couple has passion for modern design, explains Jacobs, principal of Slifer Designs, and showed the team pictures of their very modern lake home in Texas. But the owners also wanted this home to have a warmth and be inviting. They didn’t want a place that was staid, but, rather one that would let them unwind, relax and would emphasize their personal passions.

The home had a sophisticated palette with which to work—clean white walls and beautiful, oak wood flooring, finished with a warm, brown grey stain. The design team built on the existing palette and the natural textures, adding vibrant shots of color to bring warmth to the basic gray tones of the overall design. Throughout the modern theme they wove complimentary styles and accents, such as an antique chandelier and artistic lighting, handcrafted rugs and inviting, custom furnishings. As well, a wonderful collection of pottery and artifacts, which the owners had brought back from their travels, most notably Africa, added global, homespun accents to the décor. These, including the artwork the owners had collected over the years, as well as various prized belongings from their Texas house, makethe house unquestionably their own.

“The house has some beautiful pieces, but it’s not over the top,” observes Jacobs. “They wanted to live in this house. They didn’t want to worry about their two dogs.” In fact, one of the dictates in designing the home was that it be dog friendly.

FLOWING APPROACH
It was important the home lend itself to family gatherings, so everyone could be together, yet retreat to their own private spaces. The upper level of the home flows seamlessly from living room to dining area to kitchen, providing a welcoming space for family get togethers, as well as entertaining friends, while the lower level of the home offers private retreats.

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“The home had an underlying handcrafted element that made it intriguing to work with,” says Jacobs. She and Cole used natural fibers, such as jute and hemp to complement this,noticeable in the rug in the living area. The rift- sawn-oak sectioned paneling surrounding the black-steel fireplace provides a contemporary element, but with polished earth tones in the living area. Atop the fireplace is an African doll and some native-inspired pieces from the owners’ art collection, furthering the earth- connected feeling. To keep the room serene and peaceful, finishes in varying tones of gray were used in the sofa, upholstered side chairs and area rug. The tone-on-tone color scheme is grounded with touches of bright yellow in the sofa pillows, throw blanket and a contemporary glass vase. The views through the wall-to-wall windows and glass doors are so stunning the designers did not want to detract and, with this in mind, they placed the television set off to one side of the fireplace. Then, a sectional sofa with a connecting, cushioned opening between sections directsfocus to the views.

The arrangement still allows ample cushy television viewing or fire gazing on snowy nights. A clever, low shelf attached to the back of the sectional was the perfectspot to display more of the owners fascinating artifacts, including African sculptures, handcrafted houses and prized books. A cocktail table, crafted in three sections, adds a mid-modernistic touch, while its rich wood echoes the wood treatments in the fireplace surround and the room’s oak trim. As well, sculpted wooden bowls filled with African beads add another splash of color.

ELEGANTLY MODERN
The owners describe their home’s furnishings as “stunning”. This is particularly evident in the elegant dining room, with its clean lines and rich textures. A cubed, abstract chandelier lends an artistic touch over the split dining table, the golden glow of its lights reflected warmly in the table’s walnut surface. The sections of the table are connected by metal accent pieces, that reflect the steel accents found throughout the home. A handcrafted scarf from the wife’s collection drapes over the back of a custom-made dining chair that is covered in a beautiful, gray suede. The sleek, gray credenza, complements the tone-on-tone scheme of the room and enhances the lovely, gray-washed, oak flooring. And, the room’s wide windows overlook an enchanting aspen grove, which surrounds the stone patio and hot tub beyond.

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The living area melds easily into the adjacent kitchen. Sharon Cohn, developer with Solaris Redevelopment, designed the home’s interior fixed finishes. In the kitchen, she paired dark rift-sawn, white oak cabinets from Elegant Cabinetry in Avon, with a custom, stainless steel hood. Custom, smoky-glass pendant lights set off to dramatic perfection the Silestone countertops. Part of the owners’ pottery collection, along with lovely wooden bowls and a little house from Africa, reside in places of honor high atop cabinets and on decorative shelves, lending an inviting charm to the beautifully efficient space. The kitchen opens onto a sitting area where two tulip shaped chairs offer an idyllic place to read or gaze through the floor-to- ceiling windows at a lofty height.

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A PLACE OF THEIR OWN
The owners have deemed the master bedroom, “perfect,” and no wonder. The master bedroom has a secluded deck withviews of the climbing hillside and treed open space. Although the master bedroom is a retreat of its own, the designers wanted the space to feel connected to the rest of the home, so they brought in some of the same colors used throughout. “We wanted a feeling of a more flowing house,” says Jacobs. In this room, the modernistic lines and overall monochromatic color scheme were softened with soft, custom, velvet pillows in warm tones on the bed, and a beautiful silk wool area rug from The Scarab in Minturn. The wife’s upholstered dream-bed was custom styled, inspired by an Italian design. A pair of the owners’ art deco glass lamps added the perfect touch atop glass nightstands on either side. Swivel side chairs, with felt seats and leather backs, create another cozy space to reflect and to be inspired by nature’s beauty.

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In the adjacent master bath, Cohn, a self-admitted “stickler for details” used silver travertine slate on the floor and tub front, paired with glass and limestone tiles around the glass shower/tub. The honed, white marble countertop and rift-sawn, light white oak cabinets with sleek handle pulls add to the appeal of the exceptional look of the space.

On the home’s lowest level, there is a lovely secondary family room, two additional guest rooms and a mudroom.

“It’s very livable,” says Jacobs of the home.She adds that clients, overall, are going more and more in that direction. “The trophy homes of the ’90s, with bowling alleys and media rooms, are no longer a priority,” she says. “People want a home to be lived in.”

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The Design of Art

Sometimes there is a piece of art that speaks to you – perhaps it even embodies ideas and feelings that are important to you and your life – and you know you want it front and center in your home. But how best to accomplish this? And, just as importantly, how to have it work with the overall design of your room, your home?

Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or you employ the expertise of an interior designer, there are a few guidelines and rules of thumb that can help make the most of that special piece of art, while helping your home emote the same engaging ambiance. Even if you don’t own a piece that holds such a place in your heart, there are ways to help art make a beautiful statement in your home. Interior designer, Patti Dixon, owner of Patti Dixon Design quickly picks up on a connection between owner and art through myriad of subtle clues it lends. Shown a beloved piece of artwork or a treasured collection, she can lay a roadmap for a home’s design around it.

“When I begin a design project, I always start with an inspiration, such as art or a nice rug,” Dixon explains. “Interior design is an organized trade, where one has to have all the objectives met, such as clients’ preferences and architecture to create a fabulous design. Art is so different, as it is totally freeing.”

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An accomplished artist herself, Dixon focuses primarily on abstract art in her own work. Not so with her design work for clients. No matter what style of art a client possesses or is drawn to, that will set the tone for her design for the home. “Art is a personal expression, much like interior design, but more so,” notes Dixon.

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Whether one has a special piece of art or leans toward a particular style of art, one should always begin with personal preferences, Dixon suggests. Owners may love beautiful mountain landscapes, wildlife studies or children playing on the beach, things that are important in their own lives. Perhaps they are drawn to bold strokes of color or just love certain colors art should resonate.

As Dixon begins a job, she first ponders the room for placement of the art, and then works the design within that room. A collection of peaceful art scenes may denote a craving for serene spaces, while bold and striking art alive with movement may lend itself well to room filled with activity or entertainment. She pulls out colors from the piece to echo in fabrics. The artwork may even suggest textures and lines that can be replicated in furnishings.

Art, states Dixon, can either be a layer to a room’s existing interior design, or the central focus of the room. “Either way, art adds depth,” she says. At times, points out Dixon, a client may have a substantial art collection, or perhaps just one piece that is particularly mesmerizing. In this case, her tactic is different. “One should never upstage the art, but take clues to complement this with the interior design,” she advises. The home, which is featured in this article, has a particularly bold and vibrantly colorful collection, making the décor the backdrop to the art. In fact, this owner is extremely art savvy and on the advisory board of the New York Academy of Art.

Using neutral tones, such as the steel in the fireplace and the black, textured rug, Dixon pulled the bright oranges, reds and turquoises out of the art to use as bold, complimentary splashes here and there in the furnishings. The result kept the vibrancy of the artwork moving throughout the room, without detracting from it. The off-white walls set off the striking art to perfection, while the large expanses of rich wood flooring pulled it all together. “You really have to think about the artwork and the furnishing in the room,” she muses.

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There are times, points out Dixon, that you can’t take all the messaging from art. For instance, traditional or sedate furnishings can work very well with abstract art. She points to the Obamas’ preferences in the White House. The furnishings were traditional, but the couple added some of strikingly contemporary pieces of art. “The result was very fun,” observes Dixon. “Most importantly, it made the interior their own. If I would have started with the art, I might have missed the history of the traditional setting. It has to be an entire picture.” Better quality art, states Dixon, deserves the best lighting. In this case, an owner might want to involve a lighting designer to achieve the optimum effect.

However, keep in mind the right lighting will draw a person into a room. The same goes with a painting. A lit piece of art draws the viewer toward that piece and maximizes its effect. Dixon advises using the correct lighting balance, with the correct light bulb color temperature; 2700 on the Kelvin color scale is the closest to natural lighting.

If art is to be placed in a newly constructed home or remodel, Dixon envisions where it will be placed during the initial design of the space. “I will consider lighting for these potential areas, even though art has not been considered as yet,” she explains. And, there are some parameters when it comes to placing art. “Never cover all the walls with art,” cautions Dixon. “It will seem claustrophobic.Give walls some breathing space. One wall of art will be more predominant, if the adjacent wall is calm and clean. I try to allocate breathing space for art – especially for a new construction or a remodel project.”

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If the featured art is a large piece, Dixon suggests that it float within the space of the wall. Above the entry to a room (pictured here) Dixon designed, hangs a bold, contemporary piece of art, one particularly large and vividly colored piece which is made all themore striking because of the wide expanse of wall left surrounding it. Ideally placed, it also lends a prelude to the colors echoed within the room. One perfect white niche left between walls in another space in the home creates a museum-like showcase for the sculpted pieces within.

On the other hand, if the artwork is small, it should be installed near something, such as a piece of furniture or wall casing – or even door trim, so the art remains connected with the room. If pieces of art are grouped, they need to connect, so the space in between is smaller than around the grouping. Two- to three-inches between each piece in a grouping works well; but this will depend on the size of the art. Sometimes more or less space is appropriate.

In most of her design assignments, Dixon pulls together art for a project after the rest of the design is finished. “Upon completion of a designed home where there is no art, I will contemplate the type of art needed to finish the residence,” she explains. “Should it be bold? Should it blend in? I consider my clients’ preferences once again and test the waters to see how far I can go to find the right pieces for them. When a home has powerful bold colors in art, the furnishings need to play harder and be more powerful.”

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And Dixon has an innate feel astutely balancing art and furnishings. Currently, Dixon is working on another residence in Vail where the art needs to be the powerful impact. “I am using neutrals so the furnishings will take a backseat to the art,” she shares.

Whether your interior designer is helping with your purchases, or is choosing your art from one of Vail’s eclectic galleries or, perhaps, the Vail Valley Art Guild’s gallery space, finding art that moves you is what is important. Finding a home for your treasures is always exhilarating and brings so much joy.

“I love to put it all together to finish an amazing interior-designed home,” says Dixon. “It’s kind of like putting the whole outfit together; you don’t want to forget the belt.”

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I am Climate I am change

What do you love about the mountains? Chances are it’s skiing, snowboarding, rafting, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, hunting, hiking, wildflowers, bug-free camping, cool summers, biking, rock climbing, wildlife, majestic pines – and not to mention – fresh air and clean water. It’s what I love too, but everything we cherish about living and vacationing in the Rockies is at risk because of climate change. Everything.

Mountain regions are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their complex water systems and ecology. Communities within the mountains are vulnerable, too, as their economy, like Eagle County’s, is driven by outdoor fun and outdoor fun is driven by climate.

Just as the global temperature is rising, so is Colorado’s – by 2.0 degrees over the past 30 years, according to Climate Change in Colorado, a report written by Jeff Lukas, Associate Scientist, CIIES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences), University of Colorado, Boulder. These warming temperatures, caused by greenhouse gas emissions, are changing the mountain’s ecosystem. The timing of snowmelt and peak runoff has shifted earlier in the spring by 1 to 4 weeks across Colorado’s river basins over the past 30 years (also from Lukas’ report). This affects rafting, fishing and has impacts on the overall health of the rivers and reservoirs, including spread of disease and increase in non- native species. Wildlife is changing patterns, too. Marmots are coming out of hibernation a month earlier, for example. Scientists project other changes, like decline in snowpack, increase in wildfires and change in water quality—if we don’t stop the warming.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a per capita basis are higher in Eagle County than in any other place in Colorado or in the U.S., according to 2014 Eagle County Energy Inventory report. Wow, you should read that statistic again because it’s a biggie. The Eagle County community spends $243.5 million annually on energy expenses. Emissions are so high because, as a resort community, we have more second homes, hotels and energy intensive recreation facilities. These amenities are needed to drive our economy, but they no longer have to be (or can’t be) so energy intensive.

“Climate change is tough to talk about. What’s invisible, odorless and no one wants to talk about?” Kim Langmaid asks, founder, vice president and director of Sustainability and Stewardship Programs at Walking Mountain Science Center in Avon. “But the window of opportunity is right now to take fast action against GHG emissions. We have a particular responsibility to take action and be leaders because we are so dependent on the climate. Our pure livelihood is at stake because of the recreational lifestyle we all have.”

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Langmaid, along with 30 other stakeholders in Eagle County, wrote The Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community, a report that sets a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Eagle County by 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. The plan establishes strategies and actions to help hit that target. If the community as a whole became 10 percent more energy efficient, $24 million could stay in the local economy, according to the energy inventory report. Imagine if we hit the 25 percent target?

These targets are in line with the recent recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. These scientists predict if we hit these reduction goals, the global community can keep the warming under the 2.0 degree threshold, avoiding a climate tipping point.

“As the global average temperature increases more than 2.0 degrees than it normally has been in our time as humans on the planet, we will be living on a world that we have no understanding of. It will be a completely different operating system, and we don’t know what it looks like,” Langmaid says, who has a PhD in Environmental Studies from Antioch University, New England. “We already are committed to a certain amount of warming, but if we can act now, we can keep it within the 2.0 degree threshold.”

The saying never gets old: Be the change. I am climate, and I am change. The following is the call to action piece of this story. You know the science, you know what’s at stake, and finally, here’s what you can do – from simple lifestyle changes to big investments with big carbon cuts to speaking up to local legislators to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and hit the target.

The saying never gets old: Be the change. I am climate, and I am change. The following is the call to action piece of this story. You know the science, you know what’s at stake, and finally, here’s what you can do – from simple lifestyle changes to big investments with big carbon cuts to speaking up to local legislators to help cut greenhouse gas emissions and hit the target.

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The single largest source of emissions in Eagle County, at 39 percent, was from generation of electricity used to power residential and commercial buildings and facilities. So one of the biggest ways to cut your carbon footprint is to make your home or commercial building more energy efficient.

The lowest hanging fruit is to switch all of your incandescent bulbs to LED ones. Switch 25 and you cut 1 ton of carbon pollution, according to the Climate Action Plan. A hot air balloon is the equivalent of one ton of CO2. Visualize 25 hot air balloons rising above Eagle County, lifting away pollution, just because you changed a light bulb.

But beyond that, knowing what would make your home more energy efficient can be tough to navigate. Local sustainability experts all say the same thing: Get an Energy Smart Colorado audit and make the recommended changes. The Energy Smart program, located in Walking Mountains in Avon, is a one-stop-shop for home energy efficiency.

“We do an energy assessment of your home, we make a clear report and priority list of the work that needs to be done, and we connect you with incentives and rebates and the right contractors to do the work,” John-Ryan Lockman says, Energy Smart Energy Programs manager.

Common energy improvements include everything from sealing cracks to tightening the home’s envelope and reduce energy leaks to upgrading appliances and boiler systems with Energy Star or other more efficient models.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and a lot of people get their energy bill and just pay it without really looking at it,” Lockman says. “Your energy bill is very revealing. It will tell you if something strange is going on, like a higher bill in summer than in winter.”

Lockman says there are two common energy wastes happening in the valley. Homeowners tend to leave their snowmelt systems running, as well as the heat tape on their roofs, all summer long, literally using their boiler to heat the outside world. Just looking at your bill—and training a property manager—would catch that mistake, he explains.

For this very reason, Lockman also recommends investing in a “smart thermostat,” like the Nest model, that learns your heating and cooling habits and remembers those habits for you. It knows you come home from work at 5, for example, it turns on the heat, and it knows you like to turn the heat down before bed, and it does it for you.

“But it always goes back to using only what you need, when you need it,” Lockman says. “Don’t heat 10 bedrooms in a home if you are only using 2. Just heat the space you are living in. Real savings comes from efficiency plus conservation.” Using renewable energy to offset your home’s carbon footprint is a great way to reduce your overall energy demand. Solar is getting cheaper every day, and when you install 1KW of solar electric, about three panels, you cut one ton of carbon pollution, according to the Climate Action Plan. Solar systems are also eligible for rebates through Holy Cross Energy’s Energy Efficiency Program. You can purchase blocks of wind power through Holy Cross’ Wind Power Pioneers program, too

“Holy Cross Energy has achieved more than 30 percent renewable energy, but this year is undertaking a new greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan, which will examine our portfolio of resources, new technology, and more renewable energy projects to increase that number as much as feasible,” Kristen Bertuglia says, who serves on Holy Cross’ Board of Directors and is Town of Vail’s Environmental Sustainability manager. “In the not-so distant future, energy storage will make solar even more applicable, if we can use it during our peak energy times, which in our area starts after 5 p.m.”

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What you throw away in the landfill, although at times forgettable, has huge impacts on the climate. Methane, the greenhouse gas that results from anaerobic decomposition of organic waste in the landfill, is 84-times more potent than CO2 in the first 20 years it’s released. Translation: Methane is even better at warming the planet than CO2.

The best way to reduce methane (which is about 10 percent of the GHG emissions in Eagle County) is to remove organic waste – things like food scraps, yard waste and wood – from the landfill through composting.

If you have enough land, you can (and should) start a backyard composting pile. But many of us must wait and rely on municipalities to launch a commercial composting program to divert our organic waste. In Eagle County, the wait is almost over.

“Commissioners signed an agreement in October 2016 with Vail Honeywagon to provide funding support for development of a composting facility at their site near the landfill. My understanding is that approval process and construction activities are planned for this year, with operating start-up in fall 2017,” John Gitchell says, Eagle County’s Environmental Sustainability coordinator.

The composting program is part of Eagle County’s larger goal to divert 30 percent of total waste by 2030. Organic waste is 37 percent of total weight of trash in the landfill, Gitchell says.

“Diverting the entire 30 percent organic portion of our total waste through composting would increase our current diversion rate to 50 percent, and reduce total county emissions by 42,000 metric tons CO2 per year – the same benefit as taking 8,800 cars off the road or 4,400 homes off the grid,” Gitchell says.

So when it’s ready, use the composting program. But until then, there are simple lifestyle choices to produce less trash. Think about the carbon impact of everything you buy. Think about your stuff’s life cycle. How was it manufactured? How far did it travel to get to you? Can it be reused? Can you recycle it? Is there an option with less packaging? Can you borrow this item or buy it used instead of buying new? Think about your trash and produce less.

Bring your own bags when shopping. Avoid plastic packaging (that means plastic water bottles) because it has a very limited number of times it can be recycled, unlike glass or metal. In fact, try to reduce the amount of packaging all together by buying in bulk or buying loose products, like fresh fruits and vegetables, as opposed to packaged foods. And in the end, recycle it.

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The majority of GHG emissions from transportation are generated from passenger vehicles. The Eagle County community faces a significant challenge due to Interstate 70 and the many vehicles that pass through the county. But there are ways to save energy on the road. Take advantage of the town’s free bus service or carpool with friends. As the network of electric vehicle charging stations expand in the county, maybe it’s time for you to buy an electric car. Or, the healthier option, bike more and drive less.

“I bought an electric bike and use it for commuting. I can wear my work clothes and it’s a breeze to ride to my meetings, and it makes you feel good. I did not get in my car and it felt really good,” Langmaid says. In fact many of the stakeholders involved in the Climate Action Plan vowed to buy an electric bike as a personal action against climate change.

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Growing your own food at the many community gardens in Eagle County or buying locally grown food at the farmers market in summer is a tasty, healthy and relatively easy lifestyle change you can make to lessen your carbon footprint. Take it a step further and reduce the amount of meat and dairy in your diet. Meat and dairy production accounts for 18 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Here’s a stat to chew on from the Environmental Working Group: If your four-person family skips meat and cheese one day a week, it’s like taking your car off the road for five weeks – or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes. If everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just 1 day a week, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.

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“Actions you can take at home and changes in your day-to-day life are important, but it’s not enough to make a massive, drastic impact around climate change, which is why Protect Our Winters (POW) encourages that extra step of political advocacy,” says Lindsay Bourgoine, advocacy and campaign manager for POW. “We need strong government policies, strong incentives to help people make these changes on an individual level.”

POW is a crew of professional athletes and industry brands working to mobilize the outdoor sports community to lead the charge towards positive climate action, since snow sports are at stake due to warming temperatures. People like Auden Schendler of Aspen Ski Company and outdoor pros like Gretchen Bleiler, Conrad Anker and Jeremy Jones, POW’s founder and president, are on their team.

They focus on education and community-based activism, but number one on the “POW Seven” take action list is “get political.” Bourgoine says the best way is to pick up the phone and call your legislators, even if it’s something as simple as sharing a feeling that you care about climate change and loss of snowpack. Emails are not as effective, she adds, because congressmen know how easy it is to copy and paste.

POW makes it easy for you to get political by providing scripts and numbers to call. “It can be scary and intimidating to call your congressman, but he’s not going to debate you on the phone, you are leaving a message,” she says. “POW hopes to break down the barrier and make it accessible for people to be politically active.” It’s up to each of us. We are climate. We are change.

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Individual action against climate change is important, but it’s not enough to cut Eagle County’s greenhouse gas emissions. It will take big community players and political action to bring about strong policies and big sustainable changes. Here’s what some of our community’s biggest players are doing to mitigate climate change. Like what you read? Let them know you care about climate.

Eagle County
After adopting the Climate Action Plan, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the county’s six focus areas. In addition to the upcoming composting facility, the county swapped its fleet of SUVs with Prius and tightened up leaky buildings to improve on Eagle County’s biggest contributor to GHG emissions — homes and commercial buildings. The county purchased two solar farms, which offsets electricity in county buildings saving the taxpayers a whopping $290,000 annually. “I love this stat: The solar farms are the equivalent of taking 377 cars off the road or 263 homes off the grid,” County Commissioner Jill Ryan says.

Actively Green Businesses
Actively Green, a sustainability training and certification program run by Walking Mountains, is a way businesses can learn to track their energy use, and thus reduce it. There are about 50 businesses enrolled (complete list on www.walkingmountains.org), and supporting those businesses is a great way to vote for a sustainable community with your dollar. One Actively Green business worthy of a shout out is the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail Village. Some examples of Sonnenalp’s efforts include changing to LED lights and reducing energy use by 34 percent in each room to more operational changes, like shutting off floor heat in guest rooms during summer and maximizing times when pools and hot tubs remain covered. The hotel’s web site (www.sonnenalp.com) posts the full, impressive list of carbon cutting changes they’ve implemented.

Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts is committed to energy and emission reductions and forest health. VR has met its goal to reduce energy use by 10 percent and is now going for “The Next 10,” VR’s commitment to reduce its overall energy use by another 10 percent by 2020. “Our operations teams are continually looking for and implementing ways to reduce our impacts and emissions,” says Fritz Bratschie, Vail Resorts’ Regional Sustainability Manager. “We have made some big investments in areas such as snowmaking infrastructure, green building, lighting, refrigeration, grooming and lifts.”

Town of Vail
As part of the Town of Vail’s existing Environmental Sustainability Strategic Plan, the town has updated all facilities with energy conservation measures, and converted every last bulb inside and out to LED technology. This has led the town to a 33 percent reduction in electricity use, according to Kristen Bertuglia, town of Vail’s Environmental Sustainability Manager. The town has also “right sized” vehicles, adding more hybrid vehicles and hybrid electric buses. Town has also cut water use by 40 percent. The town has also begun incentivizing its employees to participate in the Sole Power Challenge, a green commuting challenge, by offering 25 cents per mile. “It is a great way to get people out of their cars,” Bertuglia says.