Green Dream Put to the Test

Boulder Colorado has tried peer pressure, free weatherization services, and intense publicity, but so far, voluntary efforts to increase energy efficiency have yielded mediocre results.

Boulder residents were the first in the nation to approve a "carbon-tax" to fund energy conservation programs. But the eco-city's carbon footprint dropped just 1% between 2006 and 2008.

Paul Sheldon, a consultant who advises the city on conservation, tells the Wall Street Journal's Stephanie Simon, "residents should be driving high-efficiency vehicles, and they're not. They should be carpooling, and they're not." And he says, they should be changing their own light bulbs-and they're not. Instead, a tax-payer funded team called "Techs in a Truck" is fanning out across Boulder to unscrew lightbulbs and replace them with energy-efficient models.

Climate change policy analysts wonder whether Boulder should be used as a blueprint for other municipalities. A city report published last fall calls for stepped-up regulation because voluntary actions have been slow to show results. In the short term, Boulder will shift its advertising strategy to focus on the financial benefits of saving energy, instead of environmental ones.

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