DENVER, Colorado, August 24, 2008 (ENS) - As delegates from across the country converge on Denver for the Democratic National Convention opening Monday, most of them are buying offsets to neutralize the carbon dioxide emitted to power their planes, trains and cars.
This Green Delegate Challenge is part of the Democrats' year-long effort to make their 2008 national convention the most environmentally sustainable convention in the party's history.
"We're committed to using practical, common-sense solutions to limit our impact on the environment and make this convention one of the most sustainably produced events of its kind," said Leah Daughtry, chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee.
Convention organizers estimate convention activities like air travel, ground travel, accommodations and waste will produce an average of one ton of the greenhouse gas CO2 per person.
To offset the climate-warming effect of that ton of carbon dioxide, delegates are purchasing renewable energy from a portfolio of U.S. projects selected by convention organizers and provided by NativeEnergy. They include wind power for a Colorado school district and a landfill gas-to-energy project in Illinois.
The cost of a carbon offset is modest, just $24 for one person flying 2,500 miles to the convention and back home and staying for five nights in a Denver hotel.
Delegations with the highest percentage of members offsetting their carbon emissions will be recognized in their seating section on the convention floor. All the state delegations are participating and about half of them have chalked up 100 percent participation.
For the first time, the carbon footprint of the whole convention is being calculated. Energy-efficiency for reduction of CO2 emissions is the goal, but where carbon emissions are unavoidable, the DNCC will buy NativeEnergy carbon offsets to neutralize them.
When delegates and media arrive at the convention, they will find compact fluorescent, LED and solar powered lighting, and generators fueled by biodiesel. A percentage of the power supplied to convention venues will be generated by wind farms and purchased by the venues through Green-e certified renewable energy credits.
There are many alternatives to gasoline and petroleum diesel for transportation around Denver.
Freewheelin, the nation's largest bike-sharing program rolled into Denver this afternoon, bringing 1,000 bikes to the Democratic National Convention for free use all week. Developed by health-benefits company Humana and bike-advocacy group Bikes Belong, the Freewheelin program will also bring 1,000 bikes to Minneapolis-St. Paul for the Republican convention during the first week in September.
The Pepsi Center, the Convention Center, the DNCC Headquarters Hotel and the DNCC offices are all located within walking distance of either light rail or the 16th Street mall shuttle, which is run on hybrid buses. Most delegation hotels are also accessible from these public transportation systems.
The buses used to transport delegates and media from all the hotels to the Pepsi Center will be either hybrid, alternative fuel or run on biodiesel. Bus idling will be kept to a minimum to reduce air pollution.
As official vehicle provider, General Motors is offering hybrid, E-85 and high fuel efficiency vehicles for transport during the convention. All DNCC vehicles and bus miles will be tracked and included in the carbon footprint calculations.
Inside the convention center, the DNCC says on its website that "choosing sustainable materials is at the heart of our greening plan." Sustainable and recyclable service ware, sustainably harvested wood products, and rented or reused materials are being used to stage the event. Materials used will be measured, tracked and wherever possible, reused or donated to community organizations and schools at the conclusion of the convention, organizers say.
A comprehensive recycling, composting and waste minimization program aims to divert a minimum of 85 percent of all waste from the landfill.
As official recycling provider, Coca-Cola will recover and recycle all paper products, plastic bottles and aluminum cans recovered at all official convention venues. The company will also provide biodegradable bags, liners, and recycling bins for material recovery. Coca-Cola will use energy-efficient coolers and vending machines to supply beverages and will deliver the beverages on hybrid electric delivery trucks.
The environment in and around Denver will benefit from the work of more than 1,000 convention delegates who will volunteer at community service sites on the first-ever Delegate Service Day on August 27, co-chaired by Michelle Obama and Colorado First Lady Jeannie Ritter.
Graffiti and litter will be cleaned up in downtown Denver and at Stapleton and groups of delegates will restore areas of Cherry Creek State Park, Confluence Park, and Bicentennial Park as well as the historic Curtis Park neighborhood bordering downtown Denver.
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