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Sustainable Vail: Recycling, rebates and more

The offseason historically is popular time for many homeowners to start major renovation projects. There are several things that homeowners can do to make their renovation more environmentally conscious with rebates, recycling tips and much more. From recycling old materials to completing an energy assessment, there are great ways in which homeowners can upgrade their knowledge to lessen their environmental impact.

Home energy assessment

Conduct a home energy assessment through Energy Smart Colorado. The town of Vail has partnered with Walking Mountains to offer low-cost ($50) energy assessments to Vail residents (and businesses). An analyst will come to the home to conduct a robust evaluation of the building’s energy footprint. This evaluation will include energy efficient measures, insights into reducing emissions and how slight changes can positively impact a homeowner’s energy bill.

Recommendations often range from insulation improvements, HVAC updates, cleaning vents and other airways, purchasing new windows, caulking windows and more. Homeowners are provided with a robust report after the assessment to help them identify priority enhancements. If homeowners elect to do various upgrades, they may be eligible for rebates through Energy Smart Colorado and Town of Vail, which will match the rebate up to $1,000. For more information, contact Walking Mountains Science Center at

Consider solar

Now is a great time to invest in solar panels to help offset home energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On average, U.S. customers save about $1,500 a year by going solar or $37,500 over the course of 25 years. If considering solar, check out the Solarize Eagle County program.

The purpose of Solarize Eagle County is to provide a “market kick-start” in solar installations with long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the amount of energy storage in the county, expanding community access to solar options, and spreading energy efficiency and electrification knowledge throughout the community. This program is available for a limited time and includes predetermined tiered pricing and flat discounts to all participants. For more information visit

Recycle construction waste, furniture and appliances

When approaching a renovation project, consider where the waste is going to go. Homeowners, in partnership with their contractor, can develop a plan for recycling different materials. For example, clean dimensional lumber and concrete without rebar is accepted at the Eagle County Landfill for a discounted rate if separated out. Other items like cardboard can be brought to the Town of Vail Recycling Center at 111 S. Frontage Road.

Trinity Recycles is a great resource for scrap metal and old appliances. However, if appliances are still useable, homeowners might opt to check with Habitat for Humanity to see if they will accept appliances at the ReStore in Eagle. The ReStore, Thrifty Shop in Edwards, the Eagle County Classifieds Group on Facebook and Vail Daily also are great places to sell/recycle old appliances, cabinets, furniture and more.

Product selection

When selecting certain products for a renovation, consider alternatives. For a countertop, consider remnant pieces. Integrate bamboo into your design plans — it’s an easily renewable resource and has many benefits from durability to bamboo products weathering well. Use reclaimed materials such as beetle kill wood for various elements of the renovation. Consider using non-toxic volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints.

Outdoor impacts

Don’t forget about exterior impacts. When renovating, consider reviewing the landscape design around the home. Consider the impacts of the lawn on today’s drought-ridden watershed. Think about integrating native species into the site design. Assess the chemical usage to keep the lawn and landscape thriving and the impacts these may have on the area’s water supply. If making changes to patios, walkways or driveways, consider integrating permeable pavers into impervious surfaces to allow for water absorption into the ground.

Town of Vail and Walking Mountains Science Center also offer a list of regional contractors who are intimately familiar with smart building practices and can help homeowners wade through the extensive process. For more information, please contact Cameron Millard, Town of Vail Energy Efficiency Coordinator at [email protected] or 970-477-3467 or the Energy Buildings Team at Walking Mountains Science Center at [email protected] or 970-328-8777.

Kristen Bertuglia is the director of Environmental Sustainability for the town of Vail. The Discover Vail monthly sustainability column is a project of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, which is responsible for marketing the destination during the non-winter months.

Image: Photo credit at beginning of article: Photo courtesy of Walking Mountains Science Center