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Money from Inflation Reduction Act going to Telluride, Pueblo and Denver for various projects — including those with heat island concerns


The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded grants totaling $3.5 million for projects in Colorado involving environmental justice. Of that, $2 million is directly targeted for Denver’s poorer neighborhoods. Work to reduce the heat island effect is cited in two of those awards.

The heat island effect refers to the higher temperatures commonly found in cities because of the amount of heat-absorbing concrete and asphalt they commonly have. For example Denver is consistently one or two degrees warmer than the leafy suburb of Arvada despite there being no appreciable difference in elevation.

The money is part of the allocations from the Inflation Reduction Act. Some specifics:

  • Denver will get $1 million to electrify and weatherize houses in the city’s Globeville, Elyria, Swansea, and Northeast Park Hill neighborhoods and in Commerce City. Photo at top is of a house in Swanswea, adjacent to Interstate 70.
  • National Wildlife Federation will get $500,000 to plant “climate friendly trees and plants and install green infrastructure that will mitigate impacts” of the adjacent Interstate 70. The award mentions the goal of reducing the heat-island effect.
  • The heat island effect also is cited in the award of $500,000 to Denver Urban Gardens, which has a project called the Dig Deeper Initiative in neighborhoods of West Denver. Project goals include decreasing the urban heat island in neighborhoods through a Food Forest Initiative that will deliver fruit-bearing trees and perennials to existing community gardens, new gardens, and vacant lots.

That program also aims to increase the carbon sequestration capacity of community gardens and other green spaces and to increase local food options.

  • Colorado Department of Public Health will get $1 million for a pilot study of how to encourage collaboration among small drinking water and wastewater systems in rural, underserved areas of Colorado.
  • Pueblo’s Bessemer Historical Society will get $500,000 to work with the Steelworks Center of the West to purchase, distribute, and monitor 100 electric bicycles to members of underserved communities in Pueblo. The museum is located in one of Pueblo’s lower-income neighborhoods adjacent to the Evraz steel mill.
  • Telluride-based EcoAction Partners will get $500,000 to address wildlife and drought preparedness and other work in San Miguel and Montrose counties.
Allen Best
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