Boulder going Beta


In the fall of 2009, Boulder combined four divisions — the Planning Department, the Office of Environmental Affairs and the Economic Vitality and Community Sustainability programs — into a new department. Back then, City Manager Jane Brautigam said, “The new Department of Community Planning and Sustainability will help advance Boulder’s regional and national role as a leader in sustainability planning and action.”

It wasn’t just hype, considering that last December Boulder was named a Beta community, one of 10 U.S. cities in a pilot program by ICLEI-USA to help develop the national STAR Community Index. The index will be a rating system to help local governments make environmental policy decisions.

(A little background: ICLEI — the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives — was founded in 1990 at a United Nation’s World Congress of local governments from 43 countries to address climate protection and sustainable development. The name was later changed to ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, and the United States branch got its start in 1995.)

Now, several months into the pilot program, the City of Boulder is collecting data on a variety of factors and working on how to track and interpret it, such as waste reduction in our landfills, says Jonathan Koehn, regional sustainability coordinator.

But simply noting that recycling has kept waste from ever-expanding our landfills isn’t enough.

“If we’re seeing an uptick in our recycling programs, does that mean more participation or more stuff being generated that has to be recycled?” he asks.

Eventually, all these nuanced answers will go into the STAR Community Index — a Web bank of information that local governments can draw on for their own solutions. For more about ICLEI- USA, visit

The Beta contribution is only a small part of what the Department of Community Planning and Sustainability is doing.

“There are three main areas it divides into,” says Susan Richstone, comprehensive planning manager. “The Local Environmental Action Division, Comprehensive Planning and Land Use review.”

In other words, every area of local environmental, economic and zoning concern you can think of. All those areas often seek out community input on their way to evolutionary change, so it’s worth checking out the department’s website at

Green print

The owners of Eight Days A Week, at 840 Pearl St. in Boulder, strive for a green business in a rather dirty industry — printing.

Last October, Sam and Cheryl Sussman added a Hewlett-Packard L25500 Designjet printing system that uses latex ink and heat, rather than the conventional solvent inks used to etch images onto oversized signs and banners.

“It’s been great so far,” says Sam Sussman. “No difference at all in the printing quality.”

Petroleum-based solvent inks emit gases so toxic they require special ventilation systems in printing shops to protect workers’ health, unlike water-based latex inks.

The HP system is ENERGY STAR-rated, and printed materials come out dry, so external dryers aren’t needed. The manufacturer also recycles its ink cartridges and other equipment parts.

“We can’t completely recycle everything in this business,” says Sussman. “But we’ve always had this philosophy to use whatever is logical, that works well.”


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