Leading the Way in Clean Energy and Sustainability

As a father and community leader, Michael knows the importance of protecting vital natural resources so future generations of Denver’s children can enjoy the same quality of life we enjoy today. As President of the City Council, Michael has championed sustainable development, the creation of clean jobs and the establishment of new energy projects, including a solar array and an alternative-fuel vehicle fleet at Denver International Airport.

Michael believes our city, state and planet are at a unique moment, when the demand for energy is outpacing the supply of natural resources. Michael sees diversifying our energy supply with cleaner sources – and living more within our natural-resource-means – as not only smart, but imperative to our quality of life and as an opportunity to create jobs and drive our economy forward. As Mayor, Michael will build a sustainable, clean-energy future for Denver by:

  • Attracting clean-tech businesses to Denver to generate jobs that cannot be exported by developing more streamlined business-approval processes, fostering a highly-skilled workforce, and working with the private sector to establish Denver as a clean-energy hub, creating clusters around existing companies like SMA Solar Technology in Stapleton. 
  • Elevating Greenprint Denver as a permanent and fully empowered Office of the Mayor and partnering it with the Office of Economic Development to support businesses and create jobs. Strengthening Greenprint Denver will establish the city as a national leader in sustainability and clean energy. In addition to job-creation, Greenprint Denver will undertake job-training and education programs for at-risk youth and play a more pro-active role with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to better protect ratepayers.   
  • Establishing Denver Seeds, a new network of urban farms that will grow a local fresh food economy. This innovative strategy will support small businesses, create jobs and shift food production toward local growers and away from large out-of-state industrial operations. Denver Seeds will increase the availability of fresh produce in all of our neighborhoods and put millions of dollars back into the Denver metro economy.

Creating Jobs in Clean Energy and Clean Tech

The nation’s clean energy economy is projected to grow 600,000 to 900,000 jobs across America in the next 10 years. Denver’s “Corridor of Opportunity” -- encompassing DIA, Stapleton and Downtown Denver -- is perfectly positioned to become a magnet for these green energy jobs and clean tech development. With the location of SMA Solar in Stapleton, Michael has actively promoted “cluster” development around SMA to attract suppliers and more solar companies to create a solar hub.
SMA alone is projected to create 700 jobs in Denver, and cluster development strategies can bring more. As Mayor, Michael will continue to partner with SMA, land owners and economic developers to build a world-class clean-energy cluster in Denver.

An important part of being able to compete for jobs in the clean energy economy is having a skilled workforce. Michael will promote coordination among businesses, higher education and workforce training programs to ensure Denver is providing companies with the best-educated and best-skilled employees in the country. This will include working with high schools, supporting programs aimed specifically at at-risk youth and partnering with private-sector retraining programs like Veterans Green Jobs.

Increasing Local Energy Production

An important step toward diversifying our energy supply and living more within our natural-resource means is to use renewable energy sources that are produced right at our homes, businesses and schools.

Michael will establish policies and priorities at the city level that promote the use of renewable sources, such as small wind turbines, solar panels and geothermal pumps. Michael will decrease bureaucratic hurdles and cut red tape that inhibit the installation of renewable energy systems at our homes and businesses. Michael will work with Xcel Energy to help consumers achieve greater energy efficiencies and better opportunities for rebates and affordable installations.

As Mayor, Michael will investigate participation in property tax financing programs to give home- and business-owners affordable and fiscally responsible options to help pay for the installation of clean energy systems. Michael also will partner with third-party financing companies to bring these opportunities to Denver residents and businesses.

Michael also will pursue energy conservation measures, including a review and analysis of the city’s building code to remove obstacles, identify potential incentives for green building, and fast-track LEED-registered construction through the city review process.

Leading by Example – Greening City Government

To ensure Denver remains competitive in a changing world and protects the environmental quality valued by our citizens for future generations, we must hold ourselves accountable at the local level.

Sustainable growth in Denver must incorporate economic development, social considerations, and environmental concerns. One cannot stand without the other. Michael will work to ensure that the City incorporates sustainable measures into nearly everything it does. This will position the city as a regional leader in the global effort to meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.  

Governments themselves bring a high demand on our natural resources. Denver has done a good job with new city buildings that are energy and water efficient, that meet LEED standards and promote more sustainable levels of consumption. But we can do better, particularly with many of our existing city buildings.

As Mayor, Michael will direct city agencies to adopt “performance contracting” strategies to reduce energy bills by making energy efficient renovations and construction. This means putting taxpayer dollars to better use up front and reaping the savings over the long term.

Greenprint Denver

As Mayor, Michael will establish Greenprint Denver as a permanent office of the Mayor, giving it a greater ability to support private-sector job growth, coordinate with other city agencies and set benchmarks and goals in seven key areas: energy, water, land, transportation, waste, community, and air and emissions.

Greenprint Denver will coordinate with the Office of Economic Development on clean-energy job creation while also tracking efficiencies, effectiveness and cost-savings with other city offices and departments such as Community Planning and Development, Parks and Recreation, Public Health and Safety.

A stronger Greenprint Denver will allow for more coordination and communication between city agencies so that the best ideas are implemented efficiently and effectively with a focus on outcomes, including a reduction of agency overlap.

For example, Michael will direct Greenprint Denver to work with the Office of Strategic Partnerships and local green nonprofits to identify and eliminate potential redundancies, collaborate on large-scale sustainable projects, and pursue foundation and grant funding in a coordinated fashion.

Greenprint Denver also will increase public awareness campaigns and social networking strategies to better inform citizens about local green providers, sustainable living tips, and pending electricity rate changes. Michael will take energy education to our schools and at-risk youth programs in combination with job training programs.

In addition, Michael and Greenprint Denver will:

  • Take a more proactive role with the state Public Utilities Commission on matters impacting Denver ratepayers;
  • Pilot the adoption of a “Green Index” report for Denver to advise on the progress of sustainable practices of local businesses and service providers;
  • Expand pilot projects with multi-family residences for recycling and energy efficiency;
  • Implement a comprehensive solid waste management plan, including the expansion of the city’s compost program to serve more neighborhoods;
  • Promote regional and community vegetable gardening; and
  • Provide preferred parking for energy efficient vehicles.

Establishing “Denver Seeds” to Grow a Fresh Food Economy

In many Denver neighborhoods, it is all too convenient to buy fast food and soda, but nearly impossible to find fresh fruit and vegetables.  Not only do we need to focus on attracting grocery stores and farmers markets to these areas, residents of all neighborhoods should have access to fresh and locally grown foods.  Denver residents spend over $6 billion each year on food. However, local farms produce less than one-tenth of what we consume. That means we import more than 90 percent of what we eat from outside the metro area, mostly from out of state. This $5.4 billion gap provides huge economic and job opportunities for our city, especially in a time of economic recession and high unemployment.  

As Mayor, Michael will actively promote the use of regionally grown food and cultivate local farms through the establishment of a city farm network called Denver Seeds. Michael believes that promoting localized food production and distribution networks will create thousands of new jobs for Denver citizens.

Growing a Fresh Food Economy

The Denver Seeds network will support local businesses and shift food production away from large industrial farms to a network of local farms. A main Denver city farm will provide on-the-job training in business planning, hydroponics and green technologies, while also serving as a hub for a system of smaller satellite farms. These individually owned satellite farms will include environmentally-controlled, state-of-the-art greenhouses with a standard design and modern technology. This “plug and play model” will allow for the easy addition of new businesses and partners.   

As Mayor, Michael will encourage the growth of this hub-and-spoke Denver Seeds linked network to create primary jobs and support small and start-up businesses. Local food production can help drive Denver’s economy forward, lead to more sustainable neighborhoods and establish Denver as a leader in this new segment of the clean-energy economy.

Michael’s vision of securing a system of regionally grown food will put Denver at the forefront of making the shift from being a net importer of food and will help place Denver’s future in Denver’s hands.

Michael's Strategic Plan for Clean Energy and Sustainable Living.pdf247.65 KB