After four weekends, 32 hours and countless conversations and debates, the Big Horn Energy Leadership cohort came up with a set of policy goals and recommendations to effect change in the energy industry.

The suggestions covered five topics: energy efficiency, carbon capture, battery recycling, climate change and disaster awareness.

The group of 30 professionals from government, oil and gas, nonprofits, academia, media and environmental groups came together for weekends in September, October, November and December for an in-depth look at the energy industry before coming up with policy suggestions on the final day of the program.

The cohort discussed the oil industry, renewables like wind and solar, as well as coal and natural gas in the state of Colorado. The overall goal: to figure out how to address concerns while also finding common ground with people from different backgrounds, with different perspectives and different ideas about the role energy plays in business and in daily lives — and what the future might hold.

Big Horn is a nonpartisan leadership policy creation group. In the past, the group has tackled other complex issues that should be addressed in Colorado. More than 300 people have attended Big Horn programs throughout the state, all with the goal of creating productive, civil discourse on some of the state’s most pressing problems.

Ready Colorado Day/Hour

Feb. 1 at noon. That’s the suggested date for Ready Colorado Day and Hour. Why? Feb. 1 was the coldest day in the history of Colorado, back in 1985, when the temperature dropped to -61 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The goal of the day is to raise awareness about the need for disaster preparedness, to have a personal plan to go days or weeks without electricity.

The first step: To have the state legislature pass a resolution declaring Feb. 1 as readiness day, with the hour set at noon for text alerts about steps to prepare for the next wildfire or flood. Stores like Walmart or Target could get involved with displays set aside with the tools residents need until electricity comes back on — items like water or batteries.

Nonprofit research center

How can the oil and gas industry counter complaints that they are major contributors to climate change? The Big Horn cohort suggested the industry create a nonprofit organization that would provide funds to state universities to research technology that would reduce the carbon footprint and create energy-efficient, cleaner methods of extracting oil and gas.

Universities could access the funding, work cooperatively to develop the new technologies — and the nonprofit could help transfer the technology to the private sector.

Climate change

There were no suggestions to fully reverse the effects of climate change, but the group came up with an idea to combat the problem in the state’s largest city and inside the largest sector responsible for climate change: personal transportation.

And it doesn’t involve mass transportation or expensive infrastructure. Instead, the Big Horn cohorts want to leverage Lyft in Denver, a private company that has independent contractors drive people where they need to go. The suggestion: provide a carpool through Lyft, with discounts for people who ride together instead of individually.

Recycling

Lead acid batteries are the most successful recycling program in the country. When people replace their car batteries, many aren’t aware that they pay a fee to have the batteries recycled. It’s become just a natural part of doing business. And the Big Horn group wants to take the success of that battery recycling program to another type of battery: lithium ion batteries in electric cars.

The goal is to get ahead of the problem as electric vehicles gain popularity and extract the materials that can be recycled and reused from electric batteries — while creating jobs and a new industry that can meet future demand.

Energy efficiency

“No. 5 in 5” is the key phrase to improve Colorado’s energy efficiency rating. The state currently ranks 15th out of 50 states, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The rankings come from buildings, utilities, transportation and appliance standards. An idea to improve the rankings: a green rating for homes and commercial buildings. The rating would be based on energy-efficient appliances and utility bills to determine which homes are more efficient. Buyers would have the chance to see their potential homes’ green rating before purchase — and sellers would have an incentive to install energy-efficient appliances, windows and doors to improve their rating.

For more information about the Big Horn program, contact Brenda Morrison at Engaged Public at brenda@engagedpublic.com