"When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such a work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and people will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, See! This our parents did for us!"− John Ruskin
In 2008, when Colorado Chautauqua Association (CCA), determined to embrace environmental sustainability as integral to its historic preservation mission and lifelong learning value, it went all in, committing the Colorado Chautauqua to be America’s “greenest” National Historic Landmark (NHL) before CCA even knew what that would involve.
Already responsible for an expansive year-round retreat site, including responsibility for maintenance of 67 historic buildings for active use, arts/cultural programming and multiple public and private partnerships, CCA’s goal was what author Jim Collins would call Big, Hairy and Audacious.
Recognizing that as much as two-thirds of the energy consumed in our country goes to existing buildings and that the “greenest” building is the one already built, CCA undertook to make the Colorado Chautauqua the most environmentally-sustainable NHL in the country and a learning laboratory for marrying historic preservation with resource efficiency.
With a generous grant from the Governor’s Energy Office, CCA hired a team of experts to prepare a Comprehensive Environmental Sustainability Plan for the Colorado Chautauqua. CCA has been implementing the recommendations in the areas of energy use reduction, water conservation, storm water management, and reduce reuse/recycling ever since – and offering its site and activities as an opportunity for other public, private and nonprofit organizations and individuals to learn about the sometimes challenging realities of marrying historic preservation and environmental sustainability principles.