Glenwood Springs, Colorado: A Model for Communities Utilizing Renewable Energy

This article will be highlighting geothermal energy and the uses we have found for it in Glenwood Springs.  Before we start discussing Western Colorado’s use of renewable energy sources, perhaps a quick explanation of what Geothermal Energy is in order for those of you scratching your heads at the term “geothermal”.  According to geothermal is heat created by the earth’s rocks, liquids and vapor under the earth’s surface.  An explanation of the different methods geothermal energy can be used are summarized by David Suzuki’s article in the Yorkton This Week.  He explains we can utilize geothermal energy by using hot water from the ground directly to heat buildings, greenhouses or by pumping underground hot water and steam to drive turbines to create electricity.

Geothermal Moutains

With so many ways of providing clean energy with geothermal activity it can be used for the greater good of the community and best of all it is renewable.  Social work is interested in these types of clean renewable energies because they have a social justice implication for local family health and the well-being of the immediate community.  Any energy source that causes little damage to the Earth and is renewable is logically good for the human race.


In our curriculum working toward a Masters of Social Work degree, we have learned that a great place for a social worker to initiate change is often in our own backyards.  As a member of Garfield County I am beginning to advocate for myself and my neighbors.  With the ethical principles of social work in my mind, issues of social justice follow closely.  As a community member I am now putting my money where my mouth is and supporting businesses that: (1) make effort to minimize their carbon footprint (2) Utilize renewable sources of energy leaving the local community in harmony with the local environment and (3) create jobs and embitter the local economy and community with environmentally conscious projects.

The Glenwood Springs area is known for beautiful mountain landscapes, powder snow on the slopes, quaint shops, friendly people, hiking, biking and rafting.  Glenwood Springs is the epicenter of skiing with many different locations within an hour’s drive.   The western slopes are also known for numerous hot springs and the hot springs beneath the sprawling mountains around Glenwood Springs provide for a unique geothermal energy source.

The hot springs themselves have been turned into a beautiful attraction and enhanced with spa like amenities that are open for the public to enjoy.  Not only are the springs beautiful but Glenwood is now drawing large crowds of people and gathering increased tourism attention.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, almost two thirds of Glenwood Spring’s annual budgeted income come from sales tax dollars derived from tourism. Much of this tourism is attributed to people wanting to experience the hot springs.  Glenwood Springs is thriving off of a renewable energy source that does not harm the environment and will not disappear in the foreseeable future. img012

The hot springs in Glenwood Springs and distinct from other area springs because of the water park operations.  Information gathered from The Healthy Economist explains most water park attractions are known for an outrageous consumption of nonrenewable resources.  Plus most utilize harsh chemicals such as chlorine, often at 3 parts per billion, in order to manage bacteria growth such as E-Coli.  Glenwood’s natural hot spring attractions are not leaving a large carbon footprint and have proven energy efficient by recycling water and returning in to the river during operations.  Not only are our hot springs a renewable energy source that attracts tourist, but the hot springs are beautiful additions to the areas landscape while offering bathers long believed medicinal benefits for the body.

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Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs is the newest location to offer bathers the benefits of these medicinal geothermal waters.  According to information from Iron Mountain Hot Springs, “there are more than 14 different minerals found in the analysis of our water. The five most abundant minerals in the soaking pools are iron, sulfate, chloride, sodium and calcium. Iron and sulfate are known for their relaxing qualities.”

It is exciting to think our town, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, could be a model for encouraging other communities around the world to take advantage of what the earth offers in their local environments too.  All the time creating opportunity for the local population without harming the environment where they work and live.



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