The annual Greenie Awards recognizes Colorado Springs' greenest businesses, organizations, schools, communities and individuals. Read more about this year’s nominees below and cast your vote for those you think are doing their best for our environment!
Don't forget to attend the Fashion Show/Award Ceremony on April 29th at Stargazers Theatre. Tickets are on sale now via the Stargazers website. All proceeds go to the Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future and features designs made from completely recycled and up-cycled materials.
Voting runs through April 22nd at 11:59 pm. Each ballot must include a vote in all five categories to be considered valid.
Jerry is the Education & Outreach Coordinator for the City of Colorado Springs Water Resources Engineering Division (stormwater). He educates thousands of youth each year through STEM school programs, engages with community members on the Adopt-A-Waterway Program, and storm drain marking efforts. He is a founding member of the Creek Week cleanup, and initiated Trash Mobs (costume litter cleanups). He is creating a culture for Complete Creeks within his Division that promotes educational and recreational opportunities throughout the community. Jerry serves on the Colorado Stormwater Council as Chair of the Education & Outreach Committee and leads the Pikes Peak Children’s Water Festival each year.
It’s one thing to grow food locally, regeneratively, and legally in Colorado. It’s another to convince people that the difference green living makes is worth their money and time. That’s why not only do Jason and Doneil grow the food, they talk about the food — and the surprisingly complicated local food movement. They boil down the huge issues and in-fighting of the eco-friendly movement. Then they turn those into guilt-free, easy, actionable items that people use to green up their lives.
Regen Media publishes The ‘Steadcast (“The home-stead and farm-stead podcast you listen to ‘in-stead’ of making the mistakes yourself”) and Regenerative Dads (“Helping America’s dads be regenerative and green, while still being men about it”) podcasts, blogs and social media. They entertain and educate listeners in Colorado and around the world about the regenerative agriculture movement and green living. This kind of media certainly isn’t a well-paid gig. But it is the only way local tiny farms will survive nationwide: helping busy suburban families understand, appreciate, and buy from the movement.
Richelle Gittens is a believer that service is the rent we pay here on earth. Her work in life and as a school teacher show she lives true to this belief every day. For over 18 years Richelle has been teaching for the Colorado Springs School District. Richelle works hard to share her love of the environment with her students. “We have a responsibility to the people coming behind us. I kind of feel like that’s my responsibility to get them out there thinking about it, and it’s the kids responsibility to carry it on." Through teaching during the day and in an after school club called the Young Environmental Stewards, Richelle gets her students out of the classroom experiencing the community around them. From farm tours, water treatment plants, burn areas, and outdoor recreation she is expanding these young minds to see the larger picture of the human impact on the Earth. Not only is Richelle teaching the future generation of environmental stewards she walks the talk. She is an avid gardener and outdoor recreation enthusiast. She enjoys hiking and riding bikes with her grandchildren. Additionally, Richelle volunteers in her community through church and as a foster parent. She shares her passions and encourages children to take on the personal responsibility of teaching others around them in their quest to make the world a better and lasting place for all.
An Associate Professor in Health Sciences at UCCS, Nanna’s work has focused on sport nutrition and nutrition research. These days, with increased urgency to address global climate and health, more of Nanna’s time is devoted to localizing the Colorado food system and its multitude of challenges and opportunities, viewing food through the lens of health and sustainability in higher education, inter-disciplinarily within the field of health professions, and trans-disciplinarily across academic fields. She is a crucial component in the local food movement, the founding member of the Pikes Peak Region Food Advisory Board and creator of the “Food Next Door Program.” With a team of graduate students, Nanna links farmers to people’s kitchens using concepts of food literacy, such as the Flying Carrot and UCCS’s Farmhouse Sustainability, Wellness, and Learning (SWELL) initiative.
Bill Morris is the executive director of Blue Star Recycling in Colorado Springs. After being laid off from a job in the early 2000s and having an older brother with disabilities he took a job managing a day program with 65 people with severe to moderate developmental disabilities. In the group were some young men with Autism who were disassembling electronics in a back room when Bill noticed their innate skill when performing systematic, procedural, repetitive tasks.
In 2009 this caused Bill to start Blue Star Recyclers with a gift from the Fagnant family. It was Bil,l a truck, and 6 members from the enclave. In 2010 Blue Star recycled 250,000 lbs. of electronics, earned $250,000 and employed 10 people. In an incredible success story in 2017 they recycled 3.2 million lbs. of material, generated $2 million and finished the year with 42 people. This success resulted in Rotary International and the Mitsubushi Foundation offering to assist Bill in replicating the model in 8 cities, 2 of which should be operating in 2018. Bill considers his greatest accomplishment helping to unlock the potential of another human being. It is a beautiful example of a man who took people who were on a taxpayer funded program creating an amazing enterprise simultaneously helping our fellow human beings and the planet.
The Pedal Station is a social enterprise of the local non-profit, Kids on Bikes, whose mission is to inspire and empower all kids to lead healthy, active, and happy lives through bicycling. The Pedal Station is a community bike center where unused bicycles are donated, fixed up by staff and volunteers, and then redistributed through retail, program, and collaborative efforts. As an organization, Kids on Bikes focuses on providing access to bicycles, opportunities to ride, and ongoing bicycling education. The majority of these efforts are fulfilled through partner schools, community centers, and organizations throughout the Pikes Peak region. Many bicycles go unused while there are many who would love the opportunity to take ownership of a bicycle, therefore, the Pedal Station seeks to make sure any bicycle donation is used for the greater mission. The Pedal Station opened in May of 2016 to greatly expand programming and to date; 495 bikes have gone to our bicycle programs, 138 bikes have gone to community partners, 3,370 hours of volunteer service hours has gone into these bicycle donations, and lastly, 1,343 bicycles have been kept from ending up in the landfills! In good consciousness, Kids on Bikes had to figure out a responsible solution to all the bicycles donated that could not be fixed up. In keeping both metal and rubber from ending up in the landfills, Kids on Bikes has partnered with local artists and craftsmen, garbage companies, as well as metal scrapping companies to make every possible use of every donation that comes through our door.
By replacing old metal halide bulbs with High Bay T-5 Fluorescent fixtures Qualtek reduced its lighting load by over 50%. Aging air conditioning units were replaced with high efficiency Evaporative Cooling units built right here in Colorado at Coolerado Corp. The biggest impact has come from investment in new manufacturing equipment; Servo Motor driven Presses reduce the base load by avoiding idle running between press strokes, a new Ipsen Titan furnace replaced its predecessor with additional capabilities and controls while only using 45% of the energy needed to ramp and cycle a load. Purchasing wind energy blocks through a PPM with Colorado Springs Utilities allowed Qualtek to offsets 1/3 of its carbon emissions from 2012-14. Its offices have been nearly 100% powered by a 26KW solar array since Jan 2011. Qualtek has been recognized by Colorado Springs Utilities as a “Water Champion” since as early as 2001, due to a water conservation program and immediately cut water use by more than 174,000 gallons a month. In 2014 the main manufacturing facility received a white roof coating which has reduce heat gain/loss and improved storm water runoff. Qualtek furthered its commitment to environmental stewardship in 2015 by hiring a full time Environmental engineer on and is poised to move from the Silver level of the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program up to Gold this summer.
More consumers care about the environment and recycling than ever before. Rather than disposing of items that will end up in landfills, people are choosing to sell unwanted and unneeded items to resale shops. This also saves consumers from spending time and energy attempting to sell the items themselves through garage sales, social media or classified advertisement websites. Earth-conscious consumers also take pride in purchasing items from resale stores like Plato’s Closet®. While being kind to the earth they still come away feeling the joy of discovering a great deal for high quality, fashionable and trendy clothing purchased at a great price.
In a community that is proudly defined by its craft breweries, Local Relic definitively stands out. Founded by husband and wife team Jeff Zearfoss and Melissa Howard, Local Relic serves up “intentionally esoteric” craft beer from its Tasting Room (situated in the 120-year old Carter Payne Chapel). Local Relic supports sustainability through local sourcing of a wide and eclectic array of ingredients, resulting in small batches of truly well-crafted beer that are unique, rarely to be repeated, and not found anywhere else in the craft brewing world.
Veda Salon & Spa is a locally owned and operated business for over 20 years. We are so proud to be a company that’s part of a bigger movement when it comes to “environmental leadership and responsibility”, not just in the beauty industry but leading the way throughout the world.
One philosophical cornerstone of our company is giving back to our beautiful community by celebrating Earth Month every April, as we have done for the past 13 years. Staff and community volunteers 100% of their time to perform salon and spa services for our raffles, a yearly balloon-pop, fashion show, $5 donated off every service for one day and much more to raise money or to help another in need. Over 13 years we have raised over $350,000 for local non-profits within our community. We continue in our commitment to volunteering and giving back throughout the year to raise awareness in both challenging and evolving circumstances happening in our community. We believe “that giving back to the world we live in” is one of the most important principles a company can embrace.
Our company also is an Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa exclusively offering Aveda products in all of our stores. Aveda is a cruelty-free brand and is committed to care for the world we live in and for those we live with, a founding principle since 1978. It's with pride that we carry Aveda products since Aveda was the first beauty company using 100% post-consumer recycled PET. Now more than 85% of our skin care and hair styling bottles are made of post-consumer recycled material. Aveda is also a pioneer in the revolution of environmental responsibility by powering the entire company with 100% wind energy. At Veda, we strive to raise the sustainability bar every year by our commitment to community involvement, using sustainable products and always improving on our own carbon footprint.
Woodland Park School District Re-2 encompasses the northern half of Teller County. The District, as it exists today, was established in 1959 when residents of Teller County voted to consolidate into the present configuration of two school districts within the county. Located north of Pike’s Peak in a spectacular mountain setting, the area provides an opportunity to enjoy the scenery, outdoor activities and peaceful life of Colorado. The educational programs of the District have focused on maintaining a balance between offering traditional instruction in basic skills and providing students the innovative, exciting instruction they will need as they grow up in a dynamic and changing society. Woodland Park School District offers an Environmental Education program for students K-8 in partnership with Catamount Institute. During the program students spend time learning hands on science in an outdoor classroom at Aspen Valley Ranch. Woodland Park High School students are also involved in environmental initiatives through Science Teacher, Dan Ganoza. Mr. Ganoza’s students participate in River Watch (a nationwide study and data collection of water), once a month environmental seminars with guest speakers, and visiting ranches in southern colorado to study sustainable ranching and agriculture. Not only do students have the opportunity to study the environment close to home but have traveled to Utah and even Peru for Environmental Studies. Finally, WPHS will again be competing in the state Environmental Science Competition (Envirothon) in April. Our school has won this the past two years and attended the North America competition in Toronto two years ago and the North America competition in Maryland last summer.
Creative Workshop for Children (housed in the Manitou Art Center), was founded in 2009 by Maria & Alain Navaratne as a Reggio Emilia-inspired Preschool. Distinctive traits of the Reggio Emilia approach include Collegial and relational-based provocative experiences. Children attending E-11’s Pre-School, After-School and Summer Camps have the opportunity to freely explore the arts, work with repurposed and upcycled items, and create in their mini-makerspace. Additionally, they daily explore Nature and learn about respectful stewardship of the Earth.
Cheyenne Creek Conservation Club, a part of River Watch, has been learning how to scientifically monitor Cheyenne Creek, which flows on the south side of Cañon school across from Cheyenne Mountain Junior High. Although this creek is one of several small natural waterways located on the west side of Colorado Springs, it is the probably only one that flows year round, right past a school.
This unique environmental science service club, supported in part by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and River Watch of Colorado, is open each fall by application to seventh and eighth graders from Cheyenne Mountain Jr. High. Students meet twice a month, usually on the second and fourth Tuesday, after school to do creek water testing, flow tests, water quality testing, and study the Riparian habitat. Many members of the club and our teacher, Mr. Eick, take part in a training one weekend each fall since the club began in 1996. This training is applied year round as students become "keepers of the creek".
Students who are interested in the water quality in natural habitats, enjoy chemistry experiments, like the outdoors, like to help our community and state agencies enjoy being members of this club. Each month the creek is tested for ph, hardness, flow, temperature, dissolved oxygen and alkalinity. A sample is also collected and set to RiverWatch for metals analysis. Meeting times are also used to clean up the creek banks and observe seasonal changes in this local riparian habitat. Our club was also chosen to collect nutrient and macroinvertebrate samples for the state each year. We also complete an annual fish sampling each fall with help from an aquatic biologist from CPW.
The current site of Cañon School, where we meet, was once a nature center in the 1920's, 30's and 40's, where students from the original Cheyenne School studied botany and ecology. and used the natural outdoor resources as a means for further education in all disciplines. Cheyenne Creek Conservation Club also works to continue this historical tradition in our community in at least a small way.
Located in the heart of PPCC's flagship Centennial Campus, the PPCC Sustainability Garden was designed by and for the community. The Sustainability Coordinator partnered with Professor Kristy Calihan's Group Communication Class to interview five on-campus stakeholders on how they can benefit from a garden. For example, the Culinary Arts program fancied fresh herbs, the Facilities department preferred low maintenance, the Zookeeping program sought leafy greens for their animals, students craved a snack on their way to class, and the Office of Sustainability desired the integration of permaculture ethics and principles. The Group Communication Class presented the information they received from stakeholders to garden design teams.
The Sustainability Coordinator partnered with Becky Elder and Pikes Peak Permaculture to organize two garden design teams made up of students, faculty, and community members. They took the stakeholder information and combined it with what they learned about gardening and permaculture to present two distinct garden designs for The PPCC Sustainability Garden. The Sustainability Coordinator incorporated features of each design while contributing his personal touch. The Coordinator worked with local garden shops to purchase plants and received $500 in donated materials. All of the stakeholders mentioned above were able to benefit from the first fruits of the garden. The Coordinator is planning to expand the garden into adjacent landscaping islands.
The Colorado Springs School (CSS) is a college preparatory, day and international school serving students from preschool through high school. In preparing students for a dynamic world,we teach the fundamental concepts and practices of resource conservation, an appreciation for natural environments, and sustainability initiatives in the following distinctive ways: Investing in solar energy from panels in three places: at Venetucci Farm, on the roof of the Children’s School, and at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church. The school covers 75% of its electrical usage on campus through these solar panels. With this 115 kW project, CSS became the first independent school in the country to draw this much power from a community-based solar garden. This investment, in which CSS leases the panels from SunShare in exchange for credits on our bill from Colorado Springs Utilities, saves the school money, models environmental responsibility, and teaches students to solve problems with ingenuity and responsibility toward others. Additionally our facilities staff seeks to make adjustments, such as a $4,000 investment in energy and water saving measures to yield a return of $25,000 per year on our entire utility bill (water, gas, and electric).
Fountain Creek Week has grown to be the largest cleanup effort in the State of Colorado. The Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District launched this program in 2004 as a means of connecting all communities within the watershed and inspiring action though 9 days of cleanup activities. In 2017 alone, Creek Week engaged over 2,600 citizens in removing 30 tons of litter from Palmer Lake to Pueblo and beyond. This program has resulted in a 50% increase of groups adopting waterways and engagement of businesses, nonprofits, schools, scouts, churches, service groups and individuals of all ages and demographics. Creek Week also spurred the establishment of Colorado’s first Brewshed ® Alliance which connects our communities to the shared values of healthy watersheds and locally made beer through education and events. All proceeds from these events support the Creek Week cleanups.
The Pikes Peak Library District’s Green Team promotes sustainability and builds awareness of responsible environmental stewardship in and beyond the Pikes Peak Library District. Among their many outreach and education projects: workshops on upcycling, xeriscaping, clean energy, reducing food waste, renewable energy, planting urban gardens, and art/craft supply exchanges. Other programs include Repair Café & Bike Sharing.
Save Cheyenne is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to protecting and saving the wildlife, parks, and character of the Cheyenne Mountain area. Originally founded in 2013, the organization revitalized itself in 2016 to oppose a land swap involving legacy parkland known as Strawberry Fields. The group led hikes into the area, organized a petition signed by thousands of residents, and ultimately sued the City to prevent the trade. The group helped shine a spotlight on how our legacy park lands are managed.
The El Paso County Household Hazardous Waste Facility serves residents of El Paso and Teller County. The facility encourages residents to reuse, recycle, and properly dispose of household hazardous waste and other materials that pose a threat to the safety of drinking water if improperly placed in area landfills. The facility opened in 2002 serving 256 customers, more than 36,000 customers in 2017. Just to name a few, since inception, over 1,000,000 gallons of paint, 1,500,000 tons of electronics, and 200,000 gallons of motors oil have been diverted from the landfill.
There is no charge to residents to use the facility which is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The facility accepts paint, lawn and garden chemicals, household cleaners, automotive cleaners, motor oil, and electronics, including computers and televisions (up to and including a 19” diagonal only). Usable paint, lawn and garden chemicals, household cleaners, and automotive products are placed in a “drop and swap” area so that these items can be reused by the public. The facility will host several events this year disposal of larger televisions, tires, and mattresses. Two days each week, customers can bring household recycling (cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, and metal.
Nearing its 30th anniversary, the MAC identifies as a place where art, music, pottery, printmaking, and other loud, slightly dangerous and intensely messy events happen daily. With the addition of two makerspaces (clean and messy), a textiles lab, photography darkroom, papermaking studio and five galleries, the MAC promotes sustainability through recycling, upcycling, reusing and repurposing materials for art projects. Donated objects, textiles, equipment, raw materials and supplies—-all find their way into the creative hands of resident artists and community participants to become thought-provoking, engaging, beautiful art.
One Nation Walking Together is a Colorado Springs-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides the daily necessities of life to Native Americans experiencing third-world poverty. We are responsive to the needs of the people and communities we serve, not only working with community leaders to aide Native individuals and families out of crisis mode, but also working to address the structural causes of poverty via sustainable interventions like soil revitalization and entrepreneurial development. As the original stewards and protectors of mother earth, indigenous people have the longest continual relationship with the land, climate, wildlife and other natural resources. Their intimate knowledge and significant expertise are critical in any effort to combat contemporary environmental challenges. At One Nation Walking Together, all of our facilities, programs, and services strive to honor the ecological and spiritual values of our first people—most notably, that nature is not something that exists “out there”, we are a part of it.
As Onondaga Chief Irving Powless Jr. advises, “Take only what you need, when you need it, and whatever you take, use.” These words encapsulate the hearth of our mission, as we strive to repurpose all of the items that are gifted to us by the community. Items that are not requested by the reservation communities we serve are then recycled or repurposed through a multitude of local partnerships with schools, businesses and organizations across the Pikes Peak Region. For example, we regularly coordinate with groups like Colorado Industrial Recycling to implement comprehensive recycling measures, aide Urban Peak in acquiring basic household items and furniture for homeless teens in transition, as well as facilitate Home Depot’s overstocked or discontinued building supplies to projects in need. One Nation is honored to be nominated as a local organization working to ensure a greener, healthier and sustainable world.
Pedals ‘n’ Pints is a social and service organization that enjoys making a difference in the community while also enjoying ourselves getting out on bikes and tasting craft beers. We adopted a section of The Midland Trail and have been very supportive of like-minded groups like Medicine Wheel, UpaDowna, Trails and Open Space Coalition, etc. We are annual supporters of Creek Week and look forward to being of service anywhere and anytime we are called upon.
With over 2,000 members in the Pikes Peak region, the Sierra Club’s mission is to enjoy, explore, and protect the quality of the natural and human environment. The Pikes Peak Group leads regular hikes into areas that need protection, trains volunteers to test water quality in Fountain Creek, and advocates for the protection of air, water, and land. The Sierra Club led the charge to protect the streams and wetlands on Pikes Peak and is spearheading the effort to close the Martin Drake power plant.
The Colorado Association for Recycling (CAFR) is a statewide organization whose mission it is to advance recycling infrastructure and end markets in Colorado and support local and state policies that help increase recycling and waste reduction, recovery and diversion. CAFR has recently begun to launch regional councils to better serve local needs. CAFR understands that every community consists of different challenges when looking for viable alternatives to landfill. The CAFR Colorado Springs Council consists of a group of CAFR members who work and live in Colorado Springs and desire to contribute to advancing the responsible management of resources in Colorado Springs. This group works on projects that are both economically and environmentally beneficial for the local community.