September 5, 2011

Boulder County on the Path to Sustainability. ~ Cait Giraffe

Boulder County is truly a leader in Colorado’s sustainability efforts!

Boulder County recently received a 2011 National Association of Counties Achievement Award for excellence in eight different categories.  This award is given to counties that serve as outstanding models for others to follow.

Most notably, Boulder County received an award for environmental excellence for its participation in two different programs that promote sustainability and recycling in the region. The ‘Roofs to Roads Colorado’ program collects asphalt shingles from roofing demolition projects and uses them to pave roads. To date, this program has collected over 5,000 tons of asphalt shingles and has paved a road in Boulder County, which has kept those shingles out of landfills and formulated a way to make an industry substantially more sustainable.

Photo: Christoph Rupprecht

Boulder County also won an award for the ‘Food to Fuel Biodiesel Program.’ Boulder County fuels their municipal fleet with a biodiesel blend produced by local grease recycling center Sustainable Oil Service. This innovative company collects waste cooking oil from local restaurants and converts it into clean burning biodiesel.  Boulder County’s use of this biodiesel has diverted 210,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere since July of 2010.

The process of converting used cooking oil, or “yellow grease” as it is called, is reasonably inexpensive and can be done locally, making it a feasible option for any restaurant looking to reduce its carbon footprint. While biofuels have been criticized for diverting food resources to create fuel, using recycled cooking oil resolves that issue and instead eliminates a waste product while reducing our dependence on petroleum resources. This transforms the debate from one of “food versus fuel” to a situation of “food to fuel.”

Photo: Argonne National Laboratory

Through these two programs, Boulder County is actively demonstrating how counties can promote sustainability and economic growth simultaneously. Since almost every county has both roofing demolition projects and restaurants with fryers, both of these programs can be implemented in counties across the nation. We can only hope that other regions will follow Boulder County’s example and embrace sustainable practices.

For more information please contact Cait Giraffe at [email protected]


 Cait Giraffe (known to some as Kaitlyn Minich), is a graduate of Denison University and has her degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science. She grew up in Colorado Springs and currently resides in Boulder. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her free time rock climbing, skiing, hiking, or playing volleyball.

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