Tag Archives: energy

How To Grow Green Jobs

How To Grow Green Jobs

I’m no economist but Nancy Folbre’s post on the Economix blog from the NY Times sure makes a lot of sense to me. Folbre is an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and offers a compelling argument for growing green jobs.

She questions why a major public program hasn’t gotten any traction in Congress or the White House. So what’s the problem? Despite the fact that according to a recent Pew Foundation report that green jobs grew at a much faster rate (nearly two and a half times faster) than overall jobs and an increase of green jobs in the United States and in other countries, “more green job-creation proposals have gotten stuck in the mud,” Folbre writes. Her colleague at the University of Massachusetts, Robert Pollin, offered some insights, with a suggestion of a public-private program platform and a commitment from the Obama administration to create 18 million new jobs over the remaining three years of the presidential term among several other points. But is this realistic? And more importantly is this affordable?

Well Folbre quickly answers that later in her post stating:

“But Professor Pollin makes a persuasive case for affordability. His plan would mobilize private as well as public capital by expanding federal loan guarantees to encourage banks to invest in energy-saving projects.

The potential benefits are huge: the direct and indirect effects of his proposed initiative could add up to 18 million jobs over the next three years.

Even if national political will is lacking, a strong state or regional pilot project should be undertaken — a serious experiment in public job creation.”

Read Pollin’s full argument for reaching the goal of 18 million jobs by 2012 here.

I’m not quite sure about the economics but one thing I do know is that more jobs are definitely needed to truly help our nation recover. Working to enable green jobs, jobs that will help sustain not only our economy but our planet as well would be icing on the cake.

Sources:
economix.blogs.nytimes.com
www.thenation.com
www.pewtrusts.org

Green News Roundup- Helping The Environment From The B Side

What do “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Pink Cadillac” by Bruce Springsteen and “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart all have in common? These classic tunes all came from the B-side.

When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


Energy Saving Air Conditioning

Green News Roundup – Green Renovation, Energy Saving Air Conditioning & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about video conferencing, green renovation, energy saving air conditioning and local sustainability-related events taking place throughout the Valley.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state. Read the latest article here.

Energy Saving A/C Conquers All Climates
As Phoenix rolls into its hottest time of the year, residents are all dreading the energy bill. Keeping cool requires non-stop air conditioning, and that doesn’t come cheap! Or does it? The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a new air conditioning process that has the potential of using 50 to 90 (yes 90!) percent less energy than today’s best units. The process uses membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants in a way that has never been done before. But alas Phoenix, we’ll still have to wait for our cheaper A/C as the system is best for dry climates that don’t get too hot or humid for example Denver. It doesn’t work well for climates such as ours or very humid climates like Miami. Still, it’s encouraging to know that alternatives are in the works and hopefully ours will come out in the near future!

Sealing Deals in Virtual Space
Video conferencing is a term we’ve all heard before. However, as technology has progressed so has this innovative conferencing method. Cisco-AT&T Telepresence is one of the latest incarnations of this exciting new technology. The New York Times Green blog covered this topic, noting the significant benefits limiting airline travel for conferences can have on the environment. Not only does this help the environment, it also helps businesses save money. London-based Carbon Disclosure Project examined “how greater reliance on teleconferencing might affect business costs and emissions,” also encouraging companies to collect data about greenhouse gas emissions hoping they will take steps to reduce them.

Valley Partnership Presents “Green Renovation for Progress & Profit”
Learn how to apply the green renovation and operation strategies of Arizona landmark, El Chorro Lodge, to your business.  The tagline of this breakfast, which will be held on Friday, June 25, at 7 a.m., is “A case study on solar strategies fueled in part by sticky buns!”  Come educate yourself on how to efficiently use green power in your business while chowing down on El Chorro’s famous sticky buns.  To register for this event visit www.valleypartnership.org.

New Meritage Green Home Concept Gets Kid-Friendly
Turn your kids into junior sheriffs working for fictional Sheriff M. Green who takes wasted energy from Wally Wasteful and gives it back to the community.  On Saturday, June 26 at 10 a.m., Meritage Homes will literally unveil its green home concept in Meritage Home’s Lyon’s Gate in Gilbert.  The work on this green home concept has been kept under a secretive green drape and will finally be revealed.  Contact Mary Garrett at (602) 432-2010 or mary@mgpublicrelations.com for more information on how to take part in this green unveiling.

Clean Up After Your Pet the Green Way
Ever wanted to clean up after your dog in a more environmentally-friendly way?  Well PoopBags, Inc. is here to help.  PoopBags, a pet waste disposal product, is made with renewable resources like corn.  This American-made product is 100 percent biodegradable, shelf-stable and will decompose at the rate of an apple after usage.  PoopBags, Inc. is trying to make the world a better place for generations to come.  If you’d like to order PoopBags, visit www.poopbags.com.

EarthFest Night is Back!
Valley Forward’s Annual EarthFest Educators Night is back for the sixth time.  Arizona kindergarten through 12th grade teachers have the chance to win $5,000 to put toward environmental programs in their classroom, school or community.  Free resources on environmental education and how to create a greener school will also be available to attendees.  EarthFest Educators Night combines education and entertainment in innovative programming that uses Arizona’s unique desert character.  To learn more about this free event, held Thursday, Sept. 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Phoenix Zoo, visit www.valleyforward.org.

China Skyscrapers

China Leading The Way In Green Technology

Though the country is the world’s top polluter, that isn’t stopping China from leading the way on new green technology. China has begun an effort to figure out how to burn coal without releasing carbon into the atmosphere.That’s quite an ambitious goal — especially for a country that is the biggest source of carbon emissions — but one that could completely alter the future of the green industry.

And that’s not all. China is making strides in several sectors and is on the road to revolutionizing the green industry.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Shai Oster writes:

“China’s vast market and economies of scale are bringing down the cost of solar and wind energy, as well as other environmentally friendly technologies such as electric car batteries. That could help address a major impediment to wide adoption of such technologies: They need heavy subsidies to be economical.
The so-called China price — the combination of cheap labor and capital that rewrote the rulebook on manufacturing — is spreading to green technology. “The China price will move into the renewable-energy space, specifically for energy that relies on capital-intensive projects,” says Jonathan Woetzel, a director in McKinsey & Co.’s China office.”

The article goes on to state that China is facing some tough challenges. Their low-cost manufacturing base can slow down their innovation, or worse yet, could restrain technology advancement in other countries as well.

Read the full article here to find out more.

What do you think? What kind of an impact will China’s surge in the sustainability sector have?

www.wsj.com

ValleyForward

Valley Forward: Lynn Paige

Lynn Paige
CEO
PerfectPower
www.perfectpowernetwork.com

When Lynn Paige, CEO of PerfectPower in Phoenix, first joined the company six years ago she lacked a background in solar energy. But it didn’t take her long to see the light.

She was brought in to grow the company, which designs and installs solar energy systems, focusing primarily on Arizona.

“I quickly fell in love with the solar industry,” Paige says. “It’s been a six-year crash course.”

Paige, who has been a member of Valley Forward since 2005, brought an accounting degree, an MBA and some 30 years of business experience to PerfectPower. She established solid management systems, hired a professional sales team, facilitated an alliance with a professional training group and instituted strict guidelines for working with commercial and residential clients.

Although Arizona is the sunshine capital of the country, it’s also one of the nation’s heat capitals, which presents a bit of challenge for solar, as well as other energy industries.

“Heat de-rates a solar system, which means it produces less electricity than the same system would in, for example, Kansas City,” Paige says. “Our big goal at PerfectPower is to figure out a way to design a system around that heat factor that will produce more kilowatt hours than it would otherwise. We’ll be using the sun to do that.”

Yet another challenge is convincing consumers that solar energy is cost effective.

“People do not believe that solar is less expensive than producing electricity through nuclear or coal plants,” Paige says. “It pays for itself in a short time with federal and utility incentives and tax credits. There’s really no excuse today for anyone not to be using solar.”

For a commercial customer, solar would pay for itself in 18 months. For residential, depending on the size and type of system, the break-even point is three to seven years, Paige says.

“If you’re not using solar, at the end of seven years you’re still paying the utility company,” she says. “With solar, at the end of seven years you could have all of your energy for free. It’s a no-brainer. I’ve had solar at my home for three years and I have no energy bills. I can’t tell you how liberating that is. It’s kind of heady to be your own little power plant. It’s really a neat thing.”

What’s more, solar improves Arizona’s quality of life.

“It’s cleaner and it produces a steady line of electricity — no sporadic spikes,” Paige says.

Sustainable Walmart

Sustainable Walmart

When you think of the global retail giant Walmart the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t sustainability. But think again.

The company plans to introduce this initiative in three phases:

First, Walmart will provide each of its 100,000 global suppliers with a survey of 15 questions to evaluate the company’s sustainability. The questions will be divided into four areas:

  • energy and climate
  • natural resources
  • material efficiency
  • people and community

U.S. suppliers are being asked to complete the survey by October 1st. Outside of the country, timelines will be set up for suppliers to complete the survey.

The consumer king’s second step is helping create a consortium of universities, administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas. The sustainability consortium will be comprised of universities that will collaborate with governmental agencies, businesses, and non-government organizations (NGOs) to create a sustainable product index for consumer products. Walmart supplied the initial funding for the Sustainability Index Consortium, and has appealed to retailers and suppliers to contribute.

The final step is providing customers with the information from the index in an easy to understand rating system. How this information is delivered — whether a color coding system or a numeric score — will be determined in coming months and years by the sustainability consortium. Hopefully, the rating system will help consumers make sustainable choices.

After visiting Walmart’s website I was impressed how much emphasis they place on sustainability. On the site I found information about climate, energy, zero waste and more. I wasn’t aware that the store was so dedicated to the environment and was definitely pleased to find out that the chain is more than just rock bottom prices.

Photo Credit: www.walmart.com
www.asu.edu
www.uark.edu

Developing an organics-to-energy biogas facility.

Don’t Let It Go To Waste, A Biogas Future

Ever wonder if you can actually do something useful with all the garbage we produce? Well it turns out we can! The city council in San Jose, Calif., recently announced that the city was in talks to develop an organics-to-energy biogas facility.

The facility would be the first of its kind in the United States, and could take in up to 150,000 tons of food and yard waste per year to process and produce energy— all this from waste that would otherwise be condemned to a landfill.

San Jose has made a huge step toward a goal of 100 percent energy independence and can act as an example for the rest of the country.The technology used to create the energy is a process known as dry anaerobic fermentation, which generates renewable bio-gas and high-quality compost, and has already been made popular in Europe. A company called BEKON Energy Technologies has successfully used this process and currently operates facilities in Germany and Italy.

We all know that San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area have long been on the environmental bandwagon, but we should certainly be quick to follow suit. According to San Jose’s Office of Economic Development its proposed biogas facility would employ 30 to 40 people during construction and development. Once fully operational the facility could create 50 to 60 jobs. News flash — it’s not only good for the environment but the economy as well :)

It’s exciting to hear about all this great new technology being developed and, hopefully, one day it will be the norm. Alas, one can at least dream that this kind of future awaits us.

waste=energy

The Ubiquitous Topic Of Green Is Popular For A Reason — It Works

The Ubiquitous Topic Of Green Is Popular For A Reason — It Works

Lake Superior State University may not be too well-known, but it does generate some publicity each year with the release of its annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

Those who tire of hearing or reading certain words and phrases go to the Michigan university’s Web site and nominate them for consideration. The big losers for 2009 are the word “green” and such related phrases as “going green.”

Good luck with getting those banished — especially in Arizona.

Many who have been beating the drum for energy efficiency, water conservation and sustainable business practices have found willing ears in executive suites across the state.

General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale is just one company that has proactively embraced standards set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Green Building Rating System.

Genesis Worldwide Enterprises in Cottonwood took a bold step forward in 2005, when it installed an 84-kilowatt photovoltaic power system, which then became the second-largest private commercial solar power system ever installed in Arizona.

It’s impossible to log onto Web sites for such utility companies as Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project or Tucson Electric Power without being directed to information about their green programs and services.

And if none of that is convincing enough, consider this. Light rail has come to the Valley of the Sun with the debut of a 20-mile, $1.4 billion system in late December.

Granted, these are just some of the steps Arizona businesses and municipalities are taking along the road to sustainability. But they are important steps.

“We could get a lot better than we are, but we’re doing pretty darn good,” says Charles Popeck, president and CEO of Green Ideas Inc., an environmental building consulting firm in Phoenix, and one of the founders of the USGBC’s Arizona chapter.

And Popeck sees a general acceptance of sustainability principles throughout the Arizona business community, not just among specific industries such as high-tech firms.

“I’d have to say it’s across the board. Everyone seems to be catching onto it,” he says. “The reason is it’s just common sense. I mean, how can you argue with saving water and saving energy?”

Bonnie Richardson, the new chair of USGBC Arizona, believes the decision to go green usually starts at the top.

“I think it really comes from the corporate philosophy,” she says. “I do think that folks in high-tech businesses have been exposed to more of the new ideas and so they tend to be more willing to embrace and try things out. However, I think we’re now at that tipping point where it just makes good financial sense for businesses to do this, and that’s where it’s going to be a lot easier for people to adopt it.”

John Neville, a sustainable systems consultant and president of the Sedona-based networking organization Sustainable Arizona, emphasizes those financial considerations in terms of a willingness to go green.

“Sustainability means the ability to last,” he says. “And if you look at your business and make business decisions based on the idea that you’re going to last a long time, then you look at your expenses and your income in a different way. If all you’re concerned about is next quarter, then you make your business decisions differently and you’re not going to be sustainable.”

When LEED-accredited professionals like Popeck, Richardson and Neville talk about sustainability and business, they oftentimes are referring to companies and institutions that are seeking one of the various levels of LEED certification.

According to the USGBC, “LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”

In fact, the nationally recognized LEED certification system is not just restricted to new construction. There are ratings programs for existing buildings, schools, commercial interiors and retail spaces among several others. Each category has a specific checklist that earns points for applicants. The more points earned, the higher the rating level with basic certification at the low end and the LEED Platinum level at the top.

Those going for new-building certification can earn points, for example, by locating a building on a site that accommodates alternative transportation methods for its employees, maximizes open spaces, utilizes water-efficient landscaping, has on-site sources of renewable energy and implements a construction waste management program.

USGBC Arizona includes a statewide list of completed LEED-certified projects on its Web site.

Popeck argues that green buildings are no more expensive than any other type of new construction.

“I think the biggest misconception out there is that it has to cost more upfront. It certainly does not,” he says.

When costs go up, it’s usually because someone decided to go for LEED certification well after the design process got under way.

“That is a typical problem out there and then people say, ‘Well green building costs more.’ Well it doesn’t really cost more,” Popeck says. “It’s because you designed your building twice that it cost more.”

Companies can recoup some of the expenses involved in greening their buildings through government tax credits and utility company rebate programs. But there are also significant savings from taking a green approach. This can include lowering the price of energy and water, as well as trimming shipping costs by sourcing construction materials locally or rethinking product packaging.

So why isn’t everyone going green these days?

“Of course, the downturn economically has hurt us,” Richardson says. “But I don’t think it was particular to green building. I think it was just across the board because our construction industry here was really devastated and it’s going to take some time for all of that to come back.

“So we’re no different than any other part of the country where the downturn is slowing growth for some of our new businesses and also, perhaps, people aren’t confident to make big investments at this moment.”

Neville seconds that.

“Everyone kind of pulls in during an economic slowdown,” he says. “It’s difficult at times when you have cash-flow issues. It’s very difficult.”

Neville is certainly not opposed to companies jumping into the green movement with both feet, but in some situations he thinks it’s actually better for companies to take incremental steps.

When he works with a business or government entity, they start out by analyzing the organization’s mission.

Neville outlined the process: “You take a look at, ‘What am I trying to accomplish here? How does my business work?’ Whether it’s a business or running a city or running a school, you say: ‘How does this work? What are all my businesses processes? What are the things that really please the customer?’ And then, ‘How can I do those and get rid of the other things that I’m doing that are ridiculous?’

”He points to a printer who saved money while going green by switching from inks containing volatile organic compounds. This eliminated the need for filing a toxic release inventory report every year, which involved hiring an outside firm to conduct an audit.
“Going green is getting better at your job. It’s doing your business better,” Neville says. “Becoming more sustainable is becoming a higher-quality business, a more efficient and effective business. That’s really what it is.”

Richardson, who works as an architect and principal planner for Tempe’s transportation division, says it’s important for those promoting sustainability to make outreach and educational efforts during a downturn.

“As we recover, there will be people with a lot more ideas about what they want to do with their business and what direction they want to go,” she says. “What’s really interesting is that once you get people looking into it, they recognize that there’s significant savings for businesses that decide to grow their business green.”

Anthony Floyd, another LEED-accredited professional, manages Scottsdale’s green building program. His city does a lot more than just talk the talk when it comes to environmentally responsible building.

In 2005, Scottsdale passed a resolution mandating that the city adopt a LEED Gold policy for designing, building and constructing new municipal facilities. The Granite Reef Senior Center, which opened in 2006, became the city’s first such building to earn LEED Gold certification. There is a new fire station that was going through the certification process earlier this year.

The Scottsdale green building program is primarily a residential program, but it plays an important role in terms of influencing commercial entities.

“When we started the residential program, after a few years of that we realized that we needed to start practicing what we were preaching,” Floyd says.

They set the bar high, he says, because “we realized we need to lead by example.”

Floyd serves as a green-strategies resource for various Scottsdale departments, other Arizona communities and numerous organizations. In early 2008, he put together a report for the AZ Minority Green Business Conference titled “Greening the Building Process.”

The report contains pertinent strategies, facts and figures. But it also covers a practice known as “greenwashing.”

“It’s just like whitewashing,” Floyd says. “I mean, there are a lot of companies out there that are advertising themselves as being green. But you really have to look deeper.

“There are multiple attributes to green building and there are shades of green.”

Like manufacturers that freely trumpet the sometimes debatable health benefits of their products, there are others who “mislead consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.”

Floyd uses the example of a business that may have sourced some construction material locally and uses that as a reason to promote itself as being green.

“But that’s greenwashing,” he says. “Just one particular product is not going to make a building green. It’s about the strategy and the design, and the combination of materials and resources that determines the overall greenness of the project.

“You can’t just look at water and say you’re green. You can’t just look at energy and say you’re green. In a building, you have to look at everything.”

But water and energy are two important considerations in Arizona, where the first may be scarce before long and the second can be extremely costly during summertime.

“In most of the LEED buildings that are being done, there is real focus on both water and energy,” Richardson says. “And that’s a new tack for Arizona.”

There are various ways to trim the use of potable water, such as installing low-flow fixtures and waterless urinals, harvesting rainwater and landscaping with native plants as Tempe does at its new transportation center.

“As long as water is relatively inexpensive, it’s a little harder to make the case that that investment turns around quickly,” Richardson says. “But I think over the next five years, there’s going to be a lot more discussion about how valuable water is in the desert and how we really need to change attitudes about managing it in a better way.”

Water efficiency is a major issue for Popeck. “It’s my pet peeve, really,” he says. “Yet every time you go into one of these project team meetings, you know, no one seems to get it. Everyone thinks the water’s unlimited. And it’s just really not.”

The need for energy efficiency and renewable energy are not just arguments coming out of Washington, D.C., these days.
Neville likes to say that the least expensive energy around is energy you don’t use. Energy is among the highest expenses on business ledgers.

“Whenever possible,” he wrote in a Sustainable Arizona position paper, “developments should incorporate energy technologies that rely on available, renewable, clean energy sources, such as solar, wind, ground-source, geothermal and other beneficial resources.”

Floyd is similarly inclined.

“If you’re green and you’re in Arizona, you need to be doing renewable energy,” he says. “It’s not an option. If you’re green, you should be generating a portion of your electricity using solar.”

There’s another, equally important part to this strategy, Floyd argues: “You need to start by reducing your energy load by being energy efficient. And then once you do that, you get a bigger bang from your solar buck.”

Steven Lockhard TPI Composites

Steven Lockard – President And CEO, TPI Composites

When the goal is to carve out a spot on the cutting edge of green-energy technology, it helps to be in the business of making blades.

That’s the case with TPI Composites Inc., a privately held company now headquartered in Scottsdale that devotes a significant portion of its business to manufacturing massive wind-turbine blades used by such clients as Mitsubishi Power Systems and GE Energy. TPI Composites, which is also involved in the transportation and military vehicle markets, employs about 2,800 worldwide and operates facilities that house about 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing floor space in the United States, Mexico and China.

“Wind energy is our largest business,” says Steven Lockard, president and CEO. “It’s the business that is expanding at the most rapid pace.”

That expansion, which represents around 80 percent of the company’s annual sales, is indicative of an industry that has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years.

Lockard sees wind energy as a clean, reliable source of electricity and job creation, two areas addressed frequently in recent election campaigns.

“Three or four years ago when we had meetings in Washington, oftentimes we were trying to convince people that wind could become big enough to matter one day,” he says. “And that’s no longer the case.”

It matters now. In 2007, the domestic wind-energy industry expanded its power-generating capacity by 45 percent, installing 5,244 megawatts of wind power, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That accounted for about 30 percent of the nation’s new power-producing capacity and represented $9 billion injected into the economy. Through three quarters of 2008, wind power was on pace to add 7,500 megawatts by year’s end.

And when it comes to job creation, TPI Composites plays a vital role. A newly opened 316,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Newton, Iowa, is expected to employ about 500 workers when it reaches full capacity. That is a welcomed development in a town hit hard by job losses when its Maytag Corp. plant closed down in 2007.

Although Lockard is optimistic about the long-term prospects for wind energy, he is also realistic about the short term, suggesting the industry may continue to be impacted by the capital crisis through, at least, the first part of 2009. His observations are exclusive to wind energy, an industryenjoying record gains of late, but there may be a warning here for other high-tech businesses dealing with current financial conditions.

“We would expect to see perhaps more modest growth (in 2009) … not the same degree of growth that we’ve been experiencing the last few years,” Lockard says.

www.tpicomposites.com

FutureShock

State Leaders Prepare The Copper State For Explosive Growth

An official letter from the state’s Lawn and Pool Use Enforcement Division says you must choose between taking out your green lawn or draining your swimming pool. You can’t have both, as the state has been severely restricting outdoor water use ever since the population of Central and Southern Arizona swelled to 10 million people around 2040.

You opt to keep the pool because urban sprawl and the heat-island effect have caused Arizona to break yet another record — the number of summer days when the temperature fails to drop below 100 degrees.

But time in the pool is getting rarer. Your daily commute from Pinal County to Phoenix is a grinding two hours. You’d like to work closer to home, but job centers and transportation routes haven’t reached your relatively new subdivision.

Welcome to the Sun Corridor, circa 2050.

With foresight, unified planning and a significant investment in the state’s infrastructure, the above scenario need not play out.

Without it, according to the author of a recent report on Arizona’s future, a part of the state risks becoming, not the next Los Angeles, but its bland sister — the San Fernando Valley.

“You’ll essentially get existing urban development patterns spread all over the place in a seamless, homogenous, urban fabric of chain stores, fast food restaurants and red stucco houses,” says Grady Gammage Jr., a principle author of “Megapolitan — Arizona’s Sun Corridor,” published by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

The report predicts that land stretching from the middle of Yavapai County to western Cochise County to the Mexican border will someday merge into one integrated super metropolitan area — a “megapolitan” dubbed the Sun Corridor.

That doesn’t mean there will be uninterrupted development between Prescott and Tucson — there is too much Indian and federal land in the way. Instead, the corridor’s economies and commuting patterns will merge.

Imagine a series of overlapping circles emanating from Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. According to a measurement developed by scholars at the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, if at least 15 percent of workers from one area commute to another, those commuting patterns have merged.

Already, Pinal County sends 40 percent of its workers into other regions, most likely north to Maricopa County.

“That means Maricopa and Pinal are already merged,” Gammage says.

Some time between 2010 and 2020, Pinal is expected to send more than 15 percent of its workers south to Pima County, Gammage adds, creating an economic bridge between Phoenix and Tucson.

The U.S. Census designates these areas with cross-region commuting patterns as “combined statistical areas,” something the “Megapolitan” report says may happen by the 2020 decennial census.

The Sun Corridor will be one of 10 megapolitan areas in the United States. By 2030, it could be home to 10 million people and 4.5 million jobs, making it a potential hotbed of wealth and productivity. According to the report, the nation’s office market and high-tech clusters are in megapolitans.

However, as the Morrison Institute report asks, will Arizona be able to harness the staggering potential of such an area?

That would require a whole new level of dialogue and cooperation between the five councils of government, six counties, 57 municipalities and 300 other governmental units spanning the 30,000-square-mile area that would make up the Sun Corridor.

And the state is just at the beginning of that process, Gammage says, adding, “We’re behind the curve.”

Shannon Scutari, on the other hand, believes she sees progress every day.

As Gov. Janet Napolitano’s policy advisor for growth and infrastructure, Scutari is on the front lines of important growth initiatives, including the long-term planning exercise developed by the Urban Land Institute, AZ One – A Reality Check for Arizona, held last spring at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Statistics from the Morrison Institute

AZ One assembled more than 300 people from Maricopa and Pinal counties and guided them through alternative growth scenarios with the purpose of generating discussion and consensus.

“They’re talking to each other, there’s no doubt about it,” Scutari says of the disparate public and civic leaders she encounters in her job. “Some of them are actually even listening to each other.”

Scutari adds that the governor hopes to see the AZ One exercise duplicated in the Tucson and Flagstaff areas.

While her office is trying to bring several growth issues into sharp relief, Scutari says a pressing challenge is the state’s need to invest in transportation infrastructure.

That is why the Arizona Department of Transportation has begun a $7 million statewide study and is working with cities, tribal governments, land-use planners, regional transportation organizations and others to assess the state’s infrastructure.

One important feature of the Statewide Transportation Planning Framework, Scutari says, will be to connect land-use decisions with transportation infrastructure, some


thing that has never been done. The study already has outlined some of the most critical transportation needs.

Right now, the governor is backing an initiative campaign to put on the November ballot a one-cent increase in the state’s sales tax. The increase would raise $42 billion over 30 years to pay for transportation infrastructure.

The money is needed as Arizona’s roads and freeways are “only going to get worse in the next 25 years,” warns Tim James, director of research and consulting for ASU’s L. William Seidman Research Institute.

James headed a team that spent a year studying the state’s infrastructure and its ability to handle growth. The resulting report did not endorse the Napolitano-backed initiative, but it did say that without changes in funding mechanisms, the state cannot keep up with growth.

“There will be longer commutes, there will be more time spent in traffic, you’ll be traveling at lower speeds,” James says. “It’s going to be more congestion and less safe journeys. The road system is going to become unacceptably poor.”

The report, commissioned by the Arizona Investment Council, formerly known as the Arizona Utility Investors Association, concluded that accommodating growth is going to be “very, very costly” — probably $417 billion to $532 billion in the next 25 years.

In that time period:

  • Electricity demand will increase by about 85 percent, yet the state faces a funding gap in paying for new plants.
  • Just providing telecommunications services to the state’s current unserved population would cost up to $2 billion. Creating a state-of-the-art fiber network that would guarantee high quality telecommunications would cost about 10 times that.
  • Water delivery and treatment systems built decades ago will need to be replaced.

While it is impossible to predict exactly what the Sun Corridor will look like in 2040, planners do know generally where growth will occur.

Eric Anderson, transportation director for the Maricopa Association of Governments, says projections show most growth in Maricopa County will be in the West Valley as developable land in the east diminishes. Pinal County, where it meets the southeast corner of Maricopa County southeast of Queen Creek and the 275-acre state land parcel dubbed Superstition Vistas, will see a lot of growth as well. Finally, Anderson says, areas around Casa Grande and Maricopa will continue to expand.

According to MAG’s latest figures, there are about 1.8 million housing units already approved or entitled in various master-planned communities in Maricopa and Pinal counties.

Jay Hicks, co-chairman of the AZ One steering committee and a vice president at EDAW Inc., an architecture and environment consulting company, says people still can shape the character of future development, even in the face of all that entitled land.

Some parcels may need to be re-entitled as time passes and communities become more cognizant of the way land uses affect pollution levels and energy consumption.

Additionally, 40 to 50 percent of all commercial properties will need to be redeveloped in the next 15 to 20 years, Hick says.

Facing the challenges that come with growth seems daunting, but Scutari says there is “a sense ofoptimism” among the state’s stakeholders.

As Gammage put it: “There is an opportunity here, if we can seize it and get ahead of it, we can do something really special.”