A small city in Colorado has employed emissions calculators to help design appropriate, measureable, and achievable climate change strategies.

Lakewood, Colorado, proves that small cities can take meaningful action on climate change and make a serious impact on their communities’ environmental footprint. As part of the city’s 2015 Sustainability Plan, this Denver-area town of 145,000 developed customizable greenhouse gas emissions calculators with Lakewood-specific data inputs and assumptions. The calculators were used to model strategies related to each of the plan’s topic areas, such as energy and water, transportation, and waste.

As a result, the city has developed plans and strategies to reduce emissions across every sector. For example, the calculators taught city officials they could reduce emissions from the energy and water sector by 10,977 tons a year, and that residential curbside recycling and waste diversion has the potential to eliminate 37,627 tons of CO2 emissions each year. Emissions calculators ensure that the plan’s goals, targets, and strategies are practical and supported by reliable data. Additionally, the calculators can be easily tailored for use by other communities; Lakewood has already shared the tool with nearby jurisdictions, including Denver and Boulder.

400,000 tons of CO2 reduced by 2025 

The challenge

The emissions calculators ensure that Lakewood’s targets are appropriate and achievable. This knowledge can help officials, residents, and businesses become more engaged in climate change action, as the goals are not abstract, but based on data regarding the city’s past, present, and future potential for action.


Economic Emissions calculators supported the creation of the Lakewood Sustainability Plan, which aims to have 20 local businesses participate in the first three years of a green business certification program.

Environmental Under the Sustainability Plan, the city plans to achieve tree canopy coverage of 30% by 2025.

Health To create healthier communities, the Sustainability Plan seeks to eliminate food deserts – areas where residents cannot access healthy or fresh food – in Lakewood.

About Lakewood

The City of Lakewood is a Home Rule Municipality which is the most populous municipality in Jefferson County, Colorado, United States. Lakewood is the fifth most populous city in the State of Colorado and the 172nd most populous city in the United States. The city population was 142,980 at the 2010 United States Census. Lakewood is west of Denver and is part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area.

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