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Denver Mayor Unveils “Greenprint Denver”: 20-Year Sustainable Framework

by Jack Rosebro

Sources of Denver’s greenhouse gas emissions. Click to enlarge.

In his annual state of the city address on 12 July, Denver mayor John Hickenlooper outlined a series of ambitious long-term initiatives and goals as part of his “Greenprint Denver” plan to make the city more sustainable.

Many aspects of the plan would take an estimated 20 years to complete, stretching far beyond 2015, the maximum amount of time that Hickenlooper is allowed to serve as mayor under current term limits.

Transportation-related goals of Greenprint Denver include:

  • All light duty vehicles (excluding patrol cars) replaced in 2007 will be replaced with hybrid-powered vehicles where appropriate vehicles are available. Where vehicles required for specific tasks are not available in hybrid form, the highest fuel mileage/lowest carbon emission per mile vehicles available will be acquired.;

  • Transition of all diesel-powered city vehicles to B20 biodiesel fuel in 2007. By 2011, the Biological content of diesel fuels used in all diesel vehicles is to exceed 20%;

  • Attain a 5% reduction in mileage traveled compared to 2005 for all non-direct City service delivery vehicles (excludes patrol cars, trash trucks, etc, includes most passenger cars, field supervisors’ trucks, etc.). By 2011, attain a 15% total reduction in city fleet VMT (vehicle miles traveled); and

  • Increase the number of alternative fuel vehicles at DIA by 20% from 2005 to 40% of the fleet. This is to increase by 50% from 2005 to be 70% of the fleet by 2011.

  • Identify and implement priority multi-modal transportation development projects in 11 major corridors throughout the city, including transit, bicycle and pedestrian access, with priority projects to be identified completion of the Strategic Transportation Plan currently underway. Prioritize and initiate transit oriented multi-modal connections along one transportation corridor identified in the 2006 Strategic Transportation Plan; and

  • Increase employee mass-transit ridership by 10% over the 2005 baseline.

Other goals of Greenprint Denver include:

  • Complete updated inventory of greenhouse gases and begin substantial progress toward a 10% reduction in per capita greenhouse gas emissions from the 1990 emission rate by the year 2012, in conformity with the US Mayors Climate Agreement.

  • Construction by 2007 of solar and methane-fueled power plants with a combined ability to power more than 2,500 homes;

  • Requiring all new city buildings and major municipal renovations to be certified to LEED-Silver standards, as well as meeting EnergyStar guidelines;

  • Redevelopment of existing brownfields and creation of 1,000 “green-collar” job opportunities by 2011;

  • Significant water quality improvement in the South Platte River by 2011; and

  • Helping Denver Water realize its 2050 goal of a 35% water usage reduction by 2015.

Longer-term goals include planting more than one million trees in Denver over the next 20 years, tripling its tree canopy from 6% to 18% tree cover. To achieve the goal within that time frame, an average of 137 trees per day would have to be planted. Hickenlooper intends to work with local schools and businesses to reach that goal.

Next month, local voters will choose whether or not to approve a new 20-year public utility franchise agreement between the City and County of Denver and Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company, to provide the Xcel subsidiary with the right to maintain and operate local electrical and natural gas infrastructure.

As part of the agreement, Public Service Company of Colorado has agreed to contribute $200,000 towards the construction of a solar power plant.

The map of signing mayors. Click to enlarge.

Hickenlooper is one of the US mayors who signed a resolution last year endorsing the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which includes a pledge from all signatories to meet or beat Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas reduction targets, as well as encouraging the federal government to meet or beat those same targets, and to assist local governments in sharing “best practices” with respect to local climate protection programs. As of 7 July, 262 mayors have signed onto the agreement. (Earlier post.)



Rafael Seidl

The goals are very worthwhile but also ambitious, especially wrt CO2 reductions. However, given that this is a collection of many smaller initiatives, a fair bit of good is likely to come from this. Denver should be commended for having the courage to publish a 20-year plan at all. Let's hope it enjoys bipartisan support and encourages other cities to follow suit.

Expecting meaningful environmental action to come out of Washington is pretty much a forlorn hope these days. They are too busy discussing flag burning and such, in-between permitting off-shore drilling and handing out tax breaks to the oil majors.


The goal is clearly stated. But how to implement is another story. Auto makers are reluctant to produce alternative fuel vehicles. They are not mass produced now or in the near future. Availability of bio fuel is a concern. Hybrid powertrain costs more than the conventional ones.

I'm just curious about the feasibility of the entire plan. There are many variables in this equation.

The most effective approach in changing the consumer pattern is simply the tax! They should follow what the British does to the people of London-- levy heavy tax to vehicles that pollute more.


I too would like to commend Denver mayor George Hickenlooper on a very good effort at doing the right thing.

Breaking the oil addiction can also be done by everyone. We do NOT have to wait for washington DC to wake up. Here are a few things that I have done to lessen my oil intake.

1) Ride my mountain bike to work 3 days a week.

2) Traded the old gas hog in on a Toyota Prius.

3) Bought a new E-max electric scooter for around town commutes and errands.

4) Buy 100 % of my power from wind generated sources. This is an option from the local utility. The cost was very small.

The next thing that I want to try is a solar PV system large enough to charge the E-max for my daily commute to work. Then my wife can drive the Prius more often.

Kyle Dansie


For couple of years all city hall vehicles in the city I live (170k residents, Vancouver metropolis) are converted to natural gas. City hall reports great saving from lower fuel cost, extended oil change intervals, and doubling engine overhaul intervals.

allen Z

Many cities are doing this by capping landfills and processing/using the gas instead of flaring or emmiting methane. Another possible way is for city vehicle to move to hybrid drives, especially those used in city driving conditions. Sanitation trucks, buses, anything that engages in alot of stop and go driving would be targets for conversion. This could end up saving the govt. fuel expenditures, thus maybe the taxpayers money in the long run.


This is very ambitious, relatively speaking. And that's the bad news. In order to make a dent in global warming, we need to reduce ghg by at least 60%. Just meeting Kyoto is pathetically inadequate.

It is great to have goals, but with no pain comes no gain. Alfred has the right idea with regard to taxes on high co2 emitting vehicles. But no Mayor in Denver is going to do that because he would fear loss of jobs and businesses to the suburbrs. And really, Denver, like L.A. is mainly about its suburbs, which are in the process of extending all the way to Colorado Springs to the South and Cheyenne, Wyoming to the North.

Without a regional solution, what the Mayor of Denver does means little.

But thanks for trying, Mayor.

Btw, I lived in Denver for six years, and it's a great city, all things considered. I wish the Mayor and the city well.

tom deplume

In Grand Rapids they have switched the meter maid from a Dodge Neon to a NEV. There are probably dozens of other city owned cars that could be switched to NEVs.

fyi CO2

A $200k contribution towards Denver solar from Excel Corp as their sweetening of a contract is a pathetic marketing gesture - not affording Denver a chance to get close to 1% of their kwh alternatively.

How do we get that big Commercial 34% piece of the greenhouse emissions pie down?


these are good steps. people talk about no pain, no gain, but for most countries, even kyoto would be painful - just look at how far behind most of them are in meeting their quotas.
i think what is worth noting is that this coalition of governors represents 47+ million people, which is roughly 16% of the US population. I wonder what percentage of GHG (and other) emissions these cities make up.

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