Pickens Technical College’s Urban Horticulture and Landscaping Pathway: New Government Program Prioritizes Agricultural Energy Efficiency in Colorado

As you know by now, the sky’s the limit today in the world of horticulture and landscaping. From increasingly complex indoor plant nurseries to the study of plant-scaping and how it affects the land, Pickens Technical College’s Urban Horticulture and Landscape program prepares you to work in this growing industry and even disrupt it with your own ideas. The time is now to be creative about urban greenspaces, and new horticulture and agricultural problems. The issues that urban planners and growers are dealing with now need new solutions, and that’s where you come in.

Energy is a big issue for anyone trying to grow plants in any capacity. Energy costs have been relatively tame in Colorado for years, but there’s always a more efficient way to use energy to raise crops or operate a greenhouse or nursery. You’re probably learning about how to conserve energy and even utilize some green energy solutions in the Urban Horticulture and Landscaping program.

The Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program

In February, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) kicked off their Agricultural Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program. The program provided funding for Colorado agricultural projects, but it also started helping greenhouses and nurseries, too. The fund currently has $200,000 earmarked for energy efficiency projects, and $50,000 for renewable energy projects, provided by the CDA’s Advancing Colorado’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency grant program.

The idea behind this effort is to give growers and producers the chance to easily upgrade their energy efficiency in their operations. Included in this program are free energy audits, as well as renewable energy site assessments, and technical support services. Federal entities like the U.S. Department of Agriculture also helps with additional funding.

Why Does This Matter?

While this current program is primarily focused on agricultural producers, that group of producers could be changing in the years to come. As urban horticulture practices improve in the Denver area and beyond, more Colorado producers will be urban farmers, creating greenhouse and nursery space in the metro area to efficiently produce crops. In time, this fund could be expanded to include urban greenhouses and spaces to help everyone lessen their power bills and help the planet.

Rising Environmental Concerns

With a new administration in the Colorado governor’s mansion and a very ‘blue’ legislature after the November elections, more of these energy efficiency initiatives could be on the way.

Programs like this highlight the state government’s priority of trying to lessen the negative environmental impacts of energy consumption (energy production, on the other hand, is another political ball of wax). New governor Jared Polis ran on a platform in part of environmental issues, shifting somewhat away from outgoing governor John Hickenlooper’s more centrist approach to energy policy.

As politicians and government agencies get more serious about energy consumption and efficiency, we’ll see more changes to how urban horticulture and landscaping is done in the near future.

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