PACE Certification Embraces Sustainability in Boulder County

green earth image -- PACE Certification Boulder Colorado

Independent Motors just received PACE Certification. This certification, locally based, is similar to LEED and Energy Star. It is a way of expressing a commitment to sustainability and an alignment with Boulder’s values. This article looks at PACE, as well as LEED and Energy Star, with which it shares core principles and objectives.

What is PACE?

PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) is a Boulder County program that promotes and advises on sustainability. Its PACE Partners are organizations in the area that have been certified by Boulder County, demonstrating their environmental responsibility and waste diversion (see below). Along with the other organizations within PACE, Independent Motors has become one of hundreds of organizations that:

  • have dedicated themselves to helping build the local economy by adopting more environmentally friendly methods in various aspects of their business.
  • are committed to the local area and community
  • are concerned about the people and businesses who purchase their products
  • are geared generally toward the implementation of methods that are helpful to the local area’s economy, environment, and public health.

Applying for and receiving PACE Certification is a way for us to let you know that we have taken an initiative in deploying many key sustainability practices. According to Boulder County, the guidelines it uses for certification are “based upon and consistent with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria as well as Energy Star Building certification.

What is waste diversion?

Waste diversion is defined within legal resource Defined Term as “the sum of your recycled, composted, and donated/reused materials.” In turn, the waste diversion rate is the proportion of all waste that gets donated, reused, composted, or recycled. For instance, if your business creates 1000 pounds of waste and 500 pounds is either donated, composted, reused, or recycled, that gives you a waste diversion rate of 50%.

The diversion rate can typically be improved by increasing the number of items that are recycled. Organizations can find new ways to recycle through a waste stream audit, a standardized process that can also sometimes reveal revenue opportunities, according to facilities management resource Buildings.

Notably, waste diversion is especially critical for the construction industry, as indicated by these statistics:

  • As the largest source within the waste stream at 30% of the total, the waste from construction and demolition (C &D) adds up to 135.5 million tons.
  • The average amount of waste per square foot of a newly constructed building is 3.9 pounds.
  • Waste per square foot for the average demolition is 155 pounds.

While construction may create more waste than other industries, every organization can improve its waste diversion, resource conservation, and other sustainability policies.

What is LEED?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Created and developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), it is a set of green construction guidelines that are used to certify facilities as having met accepted sustainability standards. Like EnergyStar and PACE, LEED gives companies and other entities a way to present evidence that they used environmentally sound construction supplies and methods, based on the perspective of an objective outside organization. The range of LEED is broad, covering the extent to which the facility conserves resources, allows for high indoor environmental quality, is efficient with water, limits carbon dioxide emissions, and saves on electricity usage, among other concerns. Again meeting a similar need to other certification methods such as PACE and EnergyStar, LEED gives the managers and owners of any building a way to determine and initiate pragmatic steps to improve the environmental friendliness of their properties – in terms of how it is architected and constructed, but also in how it is maintained.

The USGBC was created in 1993 by a group of people within the American Institute of Architects (a professional organization that is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has 90,000 members, promoting the value of architecture and providing architects with helpful resources). The initial USGBC members represented approximately five dozen for-profit companies and a few nonprofit organizations. The intention of this group was to advance sustainability within construction. The USGBC first introduced the LEED certification program in 2000.

What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is a certification program that was created and is maintained in collaboration between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is used to allow companies and individuals to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by being able to choose electronics, appliances, office equipment, and manufacturing plants that have committed to strong efficiency standards and protocols. While that describes the initial Energy Star focus, other types of industrial buildings, as well as commercial and residential buildings, can now go through the certification and rating process as well.

Originally released in 1992, Energy Star was used in a modified version to assess all members of the European Union in 2007. New Zealand and Australia also now use a similar version of these standards to gauge their own governmental practices, as well as to provide certification for for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout their nations. Because of these high-profile adoptions and use beyond the borders of the United States, the certification program is taken very seriously.

Energy Star program to end?

Energy Star was in the political headlines recently because it would have ended with Trump’s budget as he attempted to redirect an additional $54 billion annually into military spending. However, his efforts to terminate Energy Star did not succeed.

As Grist noted, the program had helped organizations develop efficiency that had huge financial gains, amounting to a reduction of $430 billion on energy spending. Meanwhile, the program only (relative to its benefits) cost taxpayers $50 million annually.

Congress was not completely onboard with Trump’s efforts. In fact, there was substantial funding for innovations within the clean energy sector in the spending bill. According to the nonprofit National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the bill “clears the way for the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out an effective operation while guarding against many harmful anti-environment policy ‘riders’ that have no place in a spending bill.”

When Congress passed the bill on March 23, they did so without including (as wanted by the Trump administration) the removal of the Advanced Research Projects Agency –Energy (ARPA-E), the division of the EPA that oversees the government’s efforts toward clean energy innovation. It also did so without removing a large amount of money from the budget for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); in fact, the budget expanded the EERE’s budget by 11% over 2017. Finally, the EPA’s Energy Star program was taken off the chopping block as well.

Trump may not like the Energy Star program because he reportedly once received a 1 out of 100 rating – the lowest possible score – for energy efficiency at the Mayfair Hotel in Manhattan (since converted into condos).

Supporting PACE-certified businesses

Are you interested in supporting Boulder area businesses that have committed to sustainability practices? You can look through PACE Partners here. You will see that Independent Motors is one of the Certified Partners listed. At Independent Motors, an honest mechanic committed to broad sustainability efforts, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. Meet our staff.