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Denver’s Upcoming Mayoral Election

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Whose voice do YOU want to hear on the train at DIA?

In many ways, Denver is a thriving city. US News and World Report lists Denver as the #3 Best Place to Live in the US. Our unemployment rate sits at 2.6 percent, which is 1.8 percent lower than the national average. We were recently announced as one of the winners of the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge for our work to fight climate change at the local level.

However, Denver is dealing with some pretty significant challenges. For one thing, our air quality is terrible. The harsh reality for many Front Range residents is that Colorado not only flunked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard set in 2015, but the state never met the older, less-strict standard from 2008. Our growing population, and the cars that come with it, are making it harder and harder to meet the EPA standards. Poor air quality affects not only people with asthma and respiratory illnesses, but also children, whose lungs are still developing. Our poor air quality is just one of a variety of challenges that the next mayor will face in their position.

Local elections often get a lot less attention than those at the national level, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less important. Denver’s upcoming mayoral election will determine much more than whose voice plays on the airport train; it will determine how our city tackles issues such as climate change, air pollution and affordable housing.

How This Vote Works

Ok, now that we have laid out why to vote, we can discuss how to vote in the upcoming mayoral election. Denver is holding its general election for mayor on May 7, 2019. In Denver, all candidates are listed on the same ballot. In the event that a candidate does not receive over 50 percent of the votes, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff election scheduled for June 4.

Voting in the general election is relatively simple. There are two ways to vote: 1) vote by mail – ballots will be mailed on April 15, or 2) vote in person at a voting center starting April 29.

Here are a list of important dates to keep in mind:

  • April 15: Ballots begin mailing to active voters
  • April 15: 22-day residency deadline
  • April 15: Drop-boxes open across the City
  • April 29: Vote Centers open
  • May 7: Election Day
    • Voting centers open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Ballots must be received by 7pm
  • June 4: Run-Off Election (if necessary)
    • Voting centers open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
    • Ballots must be received by 7 p.m.

Here at The Alliance Center, we are deeply invested in the future of Denver. We believe that local government can be a powerful force in the fight against climate change and in creating an equitable and responsible economy. As a lead-up to the 2019 mayoral election, we are hosting a Mayoral Candidate Forum at The Alliance Center on March 21. Confirmed candidates include Michael Hancock, Lisa Calderón, Marcus Giavanni, Jamie Giellis, Ken Simpson and Penfield Tate. Our forum will focus specifically on sustainability-related issues, such as transportation, climate change, pollution and affordable housing. The event is already sold-out, but there are a limited number of scholarship tickets available, and we will be livestreaming the event. Click here to learn more.

Please get out and vote in the election on May 7. Our future is in our hands, and voting is one of the best ways to make your voice heard.

My Green Building Journey with The Alliance Center

Written by Melissa Baldridge, member of The Alliance Center Board of Directors

I recently joined The Alliance Center’s Board of Directors, and I’m excited to lend my expertise as a green building expert. This isn’t the first time I’ve been involved with The Alliance Center, though. And in fact, The Alliance Center is the reason I even got into green building in the first place.

In the early 2000s, I was a freelance writer specializing in architecture, design and art, and while I collected some nice bylines, I was bored senseless writing about bathroom re-dos in Mapleton and 12,000-square-foot baronial ski castles in Beaver Creek. I was pretty clear that few people bothered to read my carefully crafted articles beyond skimming the pretty pics, and my stories certainly weren’t making a difference.

In late 2004, Historic Denver, asked me to write an article about a renovation near the mostly boarded-up Union Station. The project? The Otero Building formerly owned by Tattered Cover founder and Denver legend, Joyce Meskis. The building was called The Alliance Center, and Historic Denver would be one of the first 20 tenants there.

There were a number of news hooks for the project, and I interviewed John Powers, Janna Six and Dennis Fleming, the project manager. A board member for the Colorado Environmental Coalition, Powers had spent time in the Tattered Cover next door to the Otero building, seeing all these well-meaning but impecunious nonprofit groups scattered throughout the building, competing for the same donors and clueless about how to pool effort and resources.

In early January 2004, Powers started looking for permanent digs to bring all these groups under one roof. Meskis would sell the building to the newly formed Alliance for Sustainable Colorado (now The Alliance Center) for $4.625 million, with Powers putting down $250,000 and collateralizing his home for the construction loan. Powers and Six also bought the lot next door with the intention to raise another tower with rentable space.

The kicker for me was that the building was pursuing LEED certification, a relatively new green building certification starting to be used with new construction. But the Otero Building was older, built in 1908 with renovations in 1951. So, the LEED Existing Building Operations & Maintenance (EBOM) certification was a big deal, with only a handful of other projects in the country housing nonprofits and retrofitting to the LEED, above-code standard.

The article itself was a deep dive into the world of high-performance building – bricks and mortar that rode easier on the planet – and I burned through a couple of pages trying to (1) help my readers get their heads around green build, and (2) getting my own head around it. Beyond pretty pics and wind turbines in the sky, green building was cool, I was hooked, and I decided wanting to be a LEED professional someday.

Fast forward to 2008, and my partner was in an MBA program at Drexel University. She was also heading sustainability (aka “resource management”) on the supply chain for a food manufacturer. We knew we wanted to work with bricks and sticks. We both knew that sustainability was the bomb, our raison d’être, and yet we also saw how those good sustainability folks got patted on the head and sidelined in grownup real estate conversations.

So, we created a hybrid company we called GreenSpot Global, with both deep in-house sustainability expertise and real estate transactional capability. I got my first of about a dozen certifications – my LEED AP EBOM.

Since our official organization in January 2010, GreenSpot has been responsible for deal and project sourcing, sales, sustainability and financial analysis on property worth over $340 million. I’ve modeled, certified and audited over one million square feet of property. The National Green Building Standard named me a “Partner in Excellence” for innovation and excellence in green build, and the U.S. Green Building Council, Colorado named GreenSpot a “Top Green Dealmaker.”

Perhaps most importantly, we recrafted our mission four years ago to create and renovate regenerative property, spinning energy, carbon, water and waste meters backwards. From the hybrid nature of our business, I identified the “Four Steps to Higher Value for Green Build,” bridging both the wonky world of sustainability and the high-stakes game of real estate deal making.

And it all started because of one little assignment on The Alliance Center, which Janna Six says was one of the first write-ups the Alliance got.

Would I have found my way into my career-as-calling without The Alliance Center? Probably, but the Alliance was like a compass needle for me, fixing on my true north.

So, it’s fitting for me to be back here 15 years later, bringing what I’ve learned and will continue to learn as a board member, all because the center was a polestar for me when I was ready for more.

 

Click here to read the story that started it all!

We’re JUST labeled! What does that mean?

The Alliance Center is thrilled to announce that we are now officially a JUST labeled organization! Sounds cool, right? Want to know what that means? Let us explain!

JUST is a tool that measures how organizations are performing in terms of their social justice and equity work.  It is not a certification, but it does provide a detailed framework for organizations to evaluate themselves. By using JUST, organizations can share how they are operating with the public, such as how they treat their employees or where they source their materials from.

According to Francis Janes, associate director at the International Living Future Institute, organizations are already focused on two of the three important Ps: Profit and Planet. JUST includes the third P: People. JUST is attractive to employers because new employees are looking to work for places that are transparent and honest about their operations and that care for their people.

The goals of the JUST label are:

  • to elevate the discussion around social justice in all organizations
  • to create a common language for social justice issues
  • to elevate the causes of those individuals who lead on these issues
  • to change the policies and practices of thousands of organizations worldwide
  • to make life better for people from all walks of life

We worked to achieve the JUST label because it demonstrates our commitment to social justice and equity issues. 

Our JUST label can be found below. Click to view a detailed breakdown of our organizational scores.

We recognize that we do not have three stars in all the categories but it’s good to know we have a roadmap and direction on what to work toward. We hope to be leaders in social justice and equity work and as such, our work does not end by obtaining the JUST. This is just the beginning. Obtaining the JUST label was the first step and our next steps are engaging our full team on our new commitments, as well as working with a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant.


“The sustainability movement at large has long been a movement of privilege, the privilege to worry about the future and not the immediate struggles or survival of today. To truly transcend theses human constructed barriers, we must all embark on a journey of equity, fully embracing and addressing the social impacts as well as the environmental and economic. It is not a matter of either/or, it has to be all three!  JUST is a great starting point on this journey. – Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, Executive Director

Written by, Ana Portillo, The Alliance Center Office Coordinator

The Sustainable Development Goals: What are they?

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Have you heard of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

Created by the United Nations, these 17 interconnected global goals are designed to create a better and more sustainable future for all.

Why are the SDGs useful?

As you may know, sustainability is incredibly complex and sometimes quite messy – it can mean many different things to  different people. The SDGs layout 17 social, economic, and environmental components of sustainability, with goals associated with each of them (see the image above). The creators of these goals set an aggressive timeline to meet these goals – 2030 – which basically means that we have 10 years to tackle issues such as poverty, gender equity, climate change and more if we want to create a better future for our kids and our grandkids.

We realize these goals are broad and can be vague at times. Rest assured these are just the titles, the UN has created 169 sub indicators that identify key areas under each of these broad and ambitious goals to use as a tool to track and measure progress.

This is a big challenge. One that will take all of us. Don’t let this aggressive timeline overwhelm or discourage you, the SDGs lay out the road map to achieve this future, we just have to roll up our sleeves and dive in.

Why is The Alliance Center working toward these goals?

We recognize that there are many organizations, governments and businesses working toward these goals, and we aim to collaborate with these leaders to make the global goals more tangible, actionable, and local to Colorado. Here at The Alliance Center, we have begun to map our work and impact to these 17 goals. We are currently undergoing an in-depth process of determining which goals we are working on and how we can legitimately track our progress toward meeting them. So far, we have determined that our work aligns with seven of the 17 goals. These seven include:

7 – Affordable and Clean Energy
9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10 – Reduced Inequalities
11 – Sustainable Cities
12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
13 – Climate Action
17 – Partnerships for the Goals

We recognize that even 7 of the 17 goals is A LOT for any one organization to work toward. Our mission and our vision are based on strategic collaboration – which means we understand that we can never achieve these goals alone. At our heart, The Alliance Center is a collaborative working space, home to many of the leading NGOs in Colorado. We have also begun to map our tenants’ (NGOs housed in the Alliance) work to the SDGs. We aren’t sure, yet, but we expect that with the 50 or so organizations working in our building, all 17 of these ambitious goals are being meaningfully addressed. We will share much more about this process as it unfolds in 2019, so stay tuned!

As an organization, we have a lot of resources, passion, and partners to work with to achieve these goals. As an individual, you may be asking, what can I do to make a difference in the face of these ambitious targets? Don’t fret – there are tons of ways you can make a difference – right now, right here.

How can you get involved?

The SDGs are big. Really big. It can be daunting to think about how you as an individual, community member or employee can help push progress on any of these goals. Don’t fret – there is a lot you can do. The Good Life Goals are individual actions that everyone around the world can take to help meet the SDGs. The Good Life Goals are based on the idea that the power of the people matters as much as powerful people.

At The Alliance Center, we have aligned the Good Life Goals with our Act Now Initiative – creating a resource of (relatively) easy, personal actions that you can take right here, right now to contribute to a more sustainable future. This is a work in progress. If you have ideas for more actions or if you are working toward the SDGs yourself – please contact us! We look forward to building a better tomorrow with you.

Why I Support The Alliance Center

My name is Betsy Moszeter, and my primary position is as Chief Operating Officer of Green Alpha Advisors, LLC. I am also on the Board of Directors for The Alliance Center, because I’m a firm believer that all of my time must be devoted to creating a more sustainable economy that everyone can participate in equitably.

My vision for a sustainable future is one where we take advantage of the increasingly rapid pace of innovation to create solutions that de-risk us from our worst current problems. We need to apply economic growth quickly, and in the right areas to ensure solutions are deployed at a scale and speed commensurate with the problems we now face. I believe that a sustainable future will rest on four pillars:

  • massive productivity and efficiency gains that ensure we can create quality outputs from fewer inputs
  • the sourcing of materials nearly exclusively from waste-to-value practices instead of using primary geological sources as the majority of our inputs
  • all production and consumption powered by renewable energies
  • an economy driven by far more equitable ownership of these fantastic new means of production.

I work with and believe in The Alliance Center, because they are using their strengths to help Colorado and organizations around the country create a sustainable future. There are too many ways in which they are working toward a sustainable future to list here, so I’ll simply include a few of my favorites:

By renovating a warehouse that was initially built in 1908, and making it into one that is state-of-the-art LEED Platinum-certified, they have both saved a gem that beautifies downtown Denver and created a co-working space whose operations don’t contribute to the global systemic risks caused by an increasingly warmer climate, and resource scarcity.

In addition to the building itself, the fact that the tenants they support are all mission-aligned is incredibly impressive. There are amazing synergies being realized every day by putting mission-driven individuals and organizations in close proximity to each other, in a way that allows them to communicate throughout each day.

In addition, The Alliance Center’s programming is truly outstanding, on both the volume on which they’re executing over 300 events annually, that over 10,000 members of the community attend and the high quality ways in which they’re delivering critical inspiration and education centered on creating a sustainable future.

I’m also always amazed by how seriously The Alliance Center takes its responsibility to assist other organizations, to make their learning curves easier and shorter. One example of this is The Alliance Center’s Direct Current Microgrid Project. Not only is The Alliance Center doing the design, testing, and measurement to determine if microgrids are a more effective way to power an office space like theirs, they are also putting huge amounts of time and expertise into documenting everything they do along the way, so that they can publish a manual for other organizations to adopt the winning aspects of the process, while avoiding the pitfalls.

I’m proud to support The Alliance Center as we work toward a sustainable future. Will you join me in supporting the crucial work of this organization? Click here to support The Alliance Center.

Announcing our new Executive Director

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The Alliance Center is thrilled to announce Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, former Director of Programs, as our new Executive Director! Read more about the exciting transition in a letter from Brenna below.

Dear Friends,

Sustainability to me is more than a buzzword. It is not just recycling or installing LED lights. It is a set of values. It’s a lifestyle, one that honors the connectedness, finds balance, and strives for harmony in all systems — living and human generated.

The Alliance Center is sustainability in action. It is my great honor to step into the role of Executive Director and work with the amazing team who have been my close colleagues for the past three years to help create a truly sustainable and inclusive future. A future that works for all.

I joined The Alliance Center in 2015 after a very intentional career change. I had been working at the Brown Palace Hotel heading up their sustainability initiatives and wanted to find a place where I could have a deeper impact; where I could live and breathe sustainability — nothing less. After a ten-year career in the hospitality industry creating and leading sustainability programs for some of the premier hotel brands at the corporate and property level, I made a dramatic change in my professional life. I made it my mission to join the organization that is central to the sustainability movement in Colorado.

It is an honor beyond words to be working with our passionate and dedicated team and board, and collaborating with our extremely high-caliber tenants and partners. I feel a natural high every time I walk into The Alliance Center, and I can feel the energy seeped in passion, action and impact. To me, The Alliance Center is the most inspirational organization, housed in the most innovative building in Colorado. We are LEED V4.1 Platinum certified and are working to change the paradigm for how buildings interact with our energy grid, while driving collaborative solutions in our economy, our environment and our communities.

Over the last few years we have intentionally taken the time to clearly define our vision and the impact we want to make in the world, and we have developed a comprehensive strategy to achieve our lofty goals. We are now ready to implement our plan and help create a world where our communities are inclusive, our democracy is strong, our economy thrives, and our planet is healthy. 

The challenges we face today are existential and threaten our very survival. We simply do not have time for petty squabbles, partisan politics, tribalistic narratives, or 20th century band-aid solutions. Now is the time when we must come together in deep solidarity to co-create solutions for the 21st century and beyond.

I am elated to lead an organization that will play a mighty role in this paradigm shift. I personally invite you to join us on this journey. It will take each and every one of us, working together, to create the world we are proud to pass along to our children and grandchildren.

From the front lines of the sustainability movement, and with my deepest gratitude,

Brenna Simmons-St. Onge

The Alliance Center’s Rebrand

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Nonprofits come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing they share in common is a desire to scale up their impact on the world. Collaboration has long been touted as the best way for nonprofits to scale up, but the actual practice of collaboration is often messy, making it hard to measure the impacts of these efforts.

At The Alliance Center in Denver, CO, over 50 nonprofit and for-profit organizations work under one roof. We are a mission-driven nonprofit with an event and collaborative working space which is dedicated to bringing people together to create a sustainable and inclusive future. As the operator of a collaborative working space, we strive to create a work environment that is inspiring, inviting, and that promotes constructive interactions between tenants.

The Alliance Center recently underwent a brand realignment process to reconnect with our mission. As part of this process, we changed the name of the organization from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado to The Alliance Center. For many years, the building that houses the collaborative working spaces was named The Alliance Center while the nonprofit organization that managed the building and created programming was called the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. This caused considerable confusion. While we are excited to have one name for all aspects of our work, changing our name to The Alliance Center is about a lot more than simplifying our moniker.

The Alliance Center is the space where people come together to build the sustainability movement. We are honored to have a wide range of for-profit and nonprofit tenants in the building who are working on a variety of different sustainability-focused initiatives. While our mission has always been to create a sustainable future, for the past few years, we have focused primarily on own initiatives rather than on helping to grow our community of tenants, supporters and friends. Our rebranding is designed to change that.

How are we changing our brand? First and foremost, our focus is on our community and on scaling up the impact of the sustainability movement. We have begun to implement new tenant-centered programming such as our Expertise Exchange lunches where our tenants can share their knowledge about fundraising, communications, technology and many other topics. We are also working more closely with our tenants to create shared programming which will focus on the three tiers of sustainability: our environment, our economy, and our communities. Strengthening and diversifying our relationships with our tenants is at the core of our updated brand strategy.

Our community also extends beyond the walls of The Alliance Center. We will be rolling out a membership program in 2018 that is designed to grow the sustainability movement and to give individuals and organizations tangible ways to live, work, and play more sustainably. Members will have access to networking opportunities with the giants of sustainability, discounts at our café, first looks into upcoming sustainability-focused events and much more.

Why are we doing this? Because we believe that we can make a bigger impact with a stronger, more connected, and more inspired community. We will be tracking the impacts of our new initiatives through tenant and supporter-focused outreach, through social media hashtags such as #AllianceforAction, and through our tangible metrics related to waste diversion, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and much more.

Enjoy looking around our new site, and we can’t wait to share more of our new initiatives with you in the future.