Colorado Brightfields: Geodesign Renewable Energy
In 2018, Colorado's newly-elected governor, Jared Polis, set an ambitious energy agenda for the state that included the conversion of the state's electrical grid to 100% renewable energy sources by the year 2040. To help accelerate this energy transition, Scott Carman led a team based at Colorado State University in creating an inventory of the state's potential 'brightfield' sites, a term coined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 to describe contaminated or disturbed land (such as brownfields) that could be repurposed for renewable energy development. Supported by a generous grant from the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab at the University of Denver, and working in collaboration with the Colorado Governor's Office, the EPA, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) and energy industry consultants, the CSU-based team took a geodesign approach to advocating for brightfields energy development by building a geodatabase in ArcGIS Pro and a user-friendly web mapping application that can help energy developers, land planners and communities identify, visualize and assess the appropriateness of brightfield sites across the state for wind and solar energy development. Beginning with a ten-county area as a proof of concept, the team identified thousands of brightfield parcels through an analysis of dozens of unique datasets, populating those parcels with attributes covering a wide variety of site analysis and renewable energy data relevant to development decision-making to create a mapping and analysis tool that represents a major step forward in the field. This presentation will tell the story of this innovative project and demonstrate the web mapping application, which went live at https://brightfields.colorado.gov in mid-2021.