OSCAR is proud to manage and contribute to projects across the spectrum of climate action. Our portfolio includes everything from climate finance to regenerative agriculture to community policy training. Please read below to see what our work is about!
The 4 Corners Carbon Coalition is a groundbreaking partnership of local governments that accelerate community-based carbon dioxide removal. The Coalition was started in the Four Corners region of the Western United States by Boulder County and the City of Flagstaff, AZ. As of August 2023, members include Boulder County, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, Salt Lake City, UT, and Santa Fe, NM. The Coalition is currently tackling carbon removal in concrete, awarding innovation grants for related technology breakthroughs. The Coalition is excited to see these breakthroughs turn into real-world, scalable projects.
This voluntary program for licensed Boulder County commercial cannabis cultivators recognizes commitments to reducing carbon emissions and energy use. The certification process follows a framework that includes energy assessment and monitoring, cultivation plan development, energy optimization, and electrification.
The Climate Policy Action Leadership Collaborative, which consists of Boulder County residents, works to advance environmental justice and inclusivity in Colorado’s climate policy. Collaborative members work with OSCAR equity and policy specialists to share community perspectives in the Colorado policymaking process.
Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder filed a lawsuit against two oil companies with significant responsibility for climate change. The communities are demanding that Suncor and ExxonMobil pay their fair share of the costs associated with climate change impacts so that the costs do not fall disproportionally on taxpayers. In May 2023, the Supreme Court ordered that the case should proceed in state courts, a win for our team and for any similar lawsuits that may be filed in the future. Read more about this lawsuit in The Guardian, or about the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bill McKibben’s piece in The New Yorker.
The Climate Innovation Fund supports local projects focused on carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and landscape resilience and restoration. Through a series of grants, OSCAR is supporting local projects that respond to and mitigate climate change impacts in recognition of the fact that local government resources need to be mobilized in order to advance carbon drawdown, emissions reduction objectives, and climate adaptation strategies for increased resilience. One recent grantee, Boulder Mushroom, has been making waves in national and international news, including July 2023 features in the Washington Post and BBC World Service.
Climate Risks Mapping
Boulder County is building a detailed map that visualizes the risks related to climate impacts including high heat, poor air quality, wildfire, flooding, and drought alongside demographics like household income, language, race, age, and reliance on public transportation. The map will help government stakeholders prioritize climate programming resources to protect the most vulnerable communities from climate related impacts.
Colorado Climate Communicators Coalition (C4)
C4 is a group of local and state government communications professionals and non-profit representatives who are working to align their messaging on climate change. The group aims to ensure that the public is receiving accurate and consistent information about climate change, share successful practices and strategies in the developing niche of climate communications, and network and share resources.
Boulder County is a founding member of CC4CA, a coalition of 40 local governments advocating for progressive state and federal climate policies. In 2022, CC4CA directly engaged on 29 bills at the Colorado state legislature, securing desired outcomes on 23. This included passing 18 transformative bills and defeating five harmful bills. Victories included creating a producer responsibility system to reduce solid waste and improve recycling, improved local government wildfire/natural disaster funding, creation of a new circular economy development center, expanded affordable housing and building efficiency, funding for coal community transition programs, air toxics reductions, improved building codes, and establishing free transit during two months of the state’s peak ozone season.
The Boulder County Energy Impact Offset Fund (EIOF) collects fees from commercial cannabis cultivators who do not offset their electricity use with local renewable energy. The fees are used to support carbon reduction initiatives, such as investing in solar energy for low-income families.
Environmental Sustainability Grants provide funding for sustainability initiatives in Boulder County municipalities. The program has funded over $1.1M in projects spanning water conservation, renewable energy, and increased EV adoption.
Rebuilding Better connects Marshall Fire-impacted residents and builders participating in reconstruction to resources for planning, designing, and constructing high-performance homes that are cleaner, more comfortable, and more resilient to climate change impacts. To date, over 40% of residents are rebuilding their homes to high energy efficiency standards, a record high for post-disaster rebuilding in the U.S. Learn more about these efforts from United Policyholders, PBS, and 9News.
In partnership with Mad Agriculture and Zero Foodprint, and with grant support from the USDA’s Department of Urban Agriculture, Boulder County helped launch Restore Colorado in 2021. The pilot aimed to foster a more circular and resilient food system by connecting food businesses to nearby farms and ranches. Participating restaurants and food businesses collect a few cents from each food purchase. These proceeds get distributed to local farmers and ranchers through “Restore Colorado grants” which support regenerative agriculture projects that improve soil health and draw down carbon. This pilot was extremely successful and garnered support from Governor Jared Polis. Now, Restore Colorado is expanding across the state in partnership with the state’s Department of Agriculture. Read more at Colorado Public Radio, Food Tank, US News & World Report, and Westword.
This Fund accelerates and launches sustainability projects that benefit food and agriculture in Boulder County. These projects increase soil nutrient levels, foster healthy ecosystems, sequester carbon, and help crops adapt to climate change. 2022 recipients are using their grants to serve their communities through developing educational programs and providing food and safety equipment to farm workers. These projects will also support local food production, help implement regenerative practices, preserve heirloom grain seeds, and create pollinator habitats. Read more about grant recipients from previous years.
OSCAR believes in an accessible, multi-modal, fossil fuel-free transportation future. Working across departments and levels of government, OSCAR helps Boulder County residents access EVs, eBikes, and more. Additionally, our team has completed projects installing charging stations at locations across the county, and supported the electrification of buses, carshare, and ride-share services.
[2021-2022] This EPA-supported pilot program assisted food and beverage manufacturers in their transition to pollution-reduced and sustainable packaging. The county awarded $40,000 to five businesses with potential to reduce pollution impacts of 2.1 million product units manufactured annually.
Solar Workforce Development
[2020-2021] Boulder County’s Solar Workforce Development program sponsored the training of underemployed residents in solar installation and maintenance. In 2020, participants built a 100 kW community solar system benefitting the Ponderosa Mobile Home Park in North Boulder.
Bulk Purchasing Program (Benefits Boulder County)
[2019-2021] Benefits Boulder County leveraged the purchasing power of Boulder County residents to access discounts on technologies such as rooftop solar, electric cars and electric bikes. This program facilitated the sale of 123 discounted residential solar systems, 289 discounted electric vehicles, and over 280 discounted electric bikes to Boulder County residents and commuters.