By Lizzy Scully
With a $175,000 grant awarded by the Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy (ACRE) Program, administered by the Colorado Agricultural Value-Added Development Board, the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (iCAST) will promote various energy-related projects for the state’s agricultural sector for one year. Though iCAST is not currently working in Berthoud, the opportunity is there, said iCAST Sustainability Project Manager Raphael Shay.
“We are already working with partners on these grants, but there are many possibilities out there,” said Shay of Berthoud. “We are always looking for ways of leveraging local resources for projects that will create local benefits.” The process, he explained, starts with a problem and a conversation.
“The problems we tackle relate to energy costs, waste streams and water,” he stated. “If we think that we will be able to turn the community problem into an opportunity, then we will look for the resources necessary to make this happen.” This includes local monies, grants and loans as well as human and environmental resources.
For example, iCAST involves students and professors in all of their projects. “This adds an extra dose of creativity to the problem solving process and allows us to work with world-class faculty,” Shay stated. The most important thing iCAST looks for in a potential community are local champions for the cause.
In the case of Crowley County, county commissioners initiated a conversation with iCAST about fighting the loss of economic, social and environmental wealth. “After identifying a large list of options, we decided to raise some funds for an overall strategic sustainability plan,” Shay explained. “These resources will allow the county and iCAST to complete a renewable resource assessment, host some town hall meetings with the community and determine a strategy for moving forward.” The focus will be on sustainable energy technologies though the implementation of a Green Community Plan that includes farming wind and sun resources, harvesting biofuels and employing energy efficiency measure for family farm sustainability.
iCAST is currently looking for another town in which to build a biodiesel production facility and implement its farm-scale seed crushing project. One project will be located in the tiny town of Stratton, but “we are not sure which of our partners we will work with for the second project,” Shay added.
The purpose of the project is to “lessen Colorado farmers’ dependence on unsustainable and expensive sources of fuel, securing a significant portion of Colorado’s food and energy needs for our future,” Shay added. “The goal of this project is to implement two farm-scale biodiesel facilities in Eastern Colorado at the end of the grant period.”
iCAST’s mission, added Shay, is to provide “economic, environmental and social benefits to economically disadvantaged individuals and communities; and to provide education and training that builds local capacity.” These projects will create new jobs, protect the environment and enhance the quality of life for residents of communities in which they operate. For more information, visit their Web site: www.icastusa.org