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Sustainability in HOAs

Environmental sustainability is of key importance in Colorado.  Given the ecology and climate of the Front Range, it is critical that we develop the land with the environmental constraints that are present in mind.  While there are many aspects to creating and maintaining sustainable communities, the two that may be most obvious relate to the geographic location of the Denver metropolitan area. During my fifth week at CAP Management, I focused on writing articles that provide insight on solar power opportunities and the need for water conservation.

Colorado is well-positioned to take full advantage of solar rays to support our energy needs.  Our high altitude, lack of frequent cloud cover and relatively low latitude makes collecting the suns energy much easier than in other parts of the country.  The installation of solar panels on homes and other buildings would seemingly be an obvious way to assist in moving away from our current reliance on polluting and damaging fossil fuels.  There exists, however, some confusion on what is acceptable when living in a Homeowner Association (HOA).  Frequently, governing documents of covenanted communities make no mention of solar panels and leave homeowners unsure if they are allowed to install solar panels on their homes.  Fortunately, Colorado law determines that it is unacceptable for HOAs to prevent their installation given the overwhelming incentive for harnessing the abundant sunshine in the state.  I believe that including language on solar energy in the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R’s) would ultimately lead to higher numbers of solar panels being installed on single-family homes.

With all of the sunshine that we enjoy in the Centennial State, it is no surprise that our landscape is naturally very dry.  The past couple years have been especially so with many counties experiencing outright drought.  If the wildfires of 2012 were not enough, the dropping reservoir levels and continued significant shortage of snowfall in the high country highlight the need for implementing water conservation measures on a large scale.  I find that xeriscaping properties and including more indigenous plant species in our landscape plans would lead to dramatically less water consumption.  When you consider that there are greater than 8,300 HOAs in Colorado, there is much water to be saved when all of those acres of Kentucky Bluegrass Turf are replaced with environmentally sensitive ground cover.  In addition, individuals reducing the amount of water consumed for other domestic needs would be highly beneficial to our communities.

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