Tag Archives: green

Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference

Speaking Opportunities At The Annual Southwest Build-It-Green Conference

Don’t miss out! The annual Southwest Build-It-Green Expo & Conference is scheduled for April 15-16, 2011 and speaking opportunities are still available! Fill out your speaker form (PDF) today.

As the largest sustainability expo in Arizona, this is one event you won’t want to miss. Last year’s expo attracted more than 200 exhibitors and 10,000 attendees, with topics ranging from green awareness, to solar power, LEED certification, water filtration, and many more.

BIG also features guest speakers of local, national and international prominence. Among some of the speakers last year were Anthony Floyd, AIA, LEED-AP Green Building Manager for the City of Scottsdale; Dr. Tom Rogers, professor and Chair of Construction Management at Northern Arizona University; Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward; James Brew from the Rocky Mountain Institute; Lori Singleton, manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Technologies at Salt River Project and many more.

In addition to the conference, the exhibits showcase products such as eco-friendly appliances and environmentally conscious landscaping techniques that aim to reduce Arizona’s carbon footprint. There are a wide variety of topics and something for everyone – homeowners and businesses alike.

For more information visit www.builditgreenexpo.com.

Local neighborhood

Can Sustainable Housing Really Be A Part of Arizona’s Future?

Perched on the threshold of economic recovery, cities whose housing markets crashed and burned during the Great Recession are struggling like modern-day Phoenix birds to rise from the ashes.

While rebirth comes naturally for some, others seem caught between a trap labeled “sprawl” and a wide-open window tagged “sustainability.”

The question is, can cities that once embraced policies favoring sprawl over density buy into a new vision calling for a more sustainable, livable and socially just way of life? The shift required may be dramatic, but it’s not impossible.

The sprawl trap is certainly familiar territory for Phoenix, a post-WWII boom town where production builders John F. Long and Del Webb are hailed as the Godfathers of Post-Modern Development. Using innovations like simple, mass-production construction techniques, Long and Webb delivered Phoenix’s first work force housing to an eager middle-class audience.

Now, a half-century later, sprawl and the suburbs are being blamed for everything from global warming to social segregation. High suburban-growth states like Arizona, California, Nevada and Florida felt the busted housing bubble like a sock to the gut two years ago. And, faced with aging infrastructure and higher maintenance costs, fringe communities are now home to the country’s largest and fastest growing poor population, according to a report by the Brookings Institution. Between 2000 and 2008, the country’s largest metro areas saw their poor population grow by 25 percent, almost five times faster than either primary cities or rural areas, the report states.

Many economists believe the country’s latest economic pause presents the opportunity for a massive do-over; a chance for cities to end their love affair with the automobile and hook up, instead, with development practices that create more dense, walkable neighborhoods.

The Obama administration evidently agrees.

“The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over,” President Obama declared shortly after taking office. He followed up those remarks earlier this year by telling the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “When it comes to development, it’s time to throw out old policies that encouraged sprawl and congestion, pollution, and ended up isolating our communities in the process.”

The President’s willingness to back up his convictions with $1.5 billion in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants and $1 million set aside for regional integrated planning initiatives is further proof that the suburban landscape is indeed changing. So is the federal government’s new Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an all-hands-on-deck approach to smart growth by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. It — along with the government’s “Smart Growth Guidelines for Sustainable Design & Development” — presents a radical new perspective on how future growth is handled, and offers a lifeline to municipalities looking to turn over a new and greener leaf.

But, for cities like Phoenix, where density has traditionally been considered a dirty word, the challenge is not so much where the money is coming from, as it is how to change public perception. Will Phoenix, with its Wild West sensibilities and traditionally renegade attitude, take kindly to federal intervention intended to help wean itself from a dependence on sprawling development?

In all honesty, it’s likely to be a tough sell. True, infill development takes advantage of current infrastructure and services and produces a measurably smaller environmental impact than does its conventional counterpart. True, higher-density building creates additional living options for homeowners in the way of row houses, walk-ups and brownstones. And true, Phoenicians, like many Americans, acknowledge they would rather walk than drive, or at the very least, have access to more transit-oriented housing, making it easier and more convenient for them to utilize public transportation.

The first step forward, however, will have to come from developers and municipal leaders willing to reach out a hand and grab the support line being offered in the way of these new smart-growth initiatives and incentives.

“Successfully addressing the challenges and opportunities of growing smarter and building greener will require that communities collaborate with each other, as well as with regional, state and federal agencies and organizations,” write the authors of Smart Growth Guidelines for Sustainable Design & Development. The end reward, they say, is decisions that benefit households in the form of greater choice, lower combined housing and transportation costs and healthier communities, thereby producing stronger local economies.

Isn’t that what communities like Phoenix, that are battling their way out of the recession, really need? Shelley Poticha, a transportation reformer and Partnership for Sustainable Communities senior adviser, thinks so.

“To me this is about helping to rebuild our economy, about growing jobs in terms of making housing more energy-efficient,” she said in a grist.org interview. “It’s also about helping places and regions really understand where their economic future is going and how they can use that to be more sustainable.”

Arizona Business Magazine's Editor-in-Chief Janet Perez

The Buzz on AZNow.Biz – October 18, 2010

This week on AZNow.Biz: Avnet chairman and CEO Roy Vallee talks about leading one of the largest distributors of electronic parts in the world. Green columnist Dustin Jones asks whether sustainable housing is in Arizona’s future, and political columnist Tom Milton looks at the political scene as we close in on next month’s mid-term elections.


Photo: www.valleymetro.org

Density: Our Ticket To The Green Express

Five years ago, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon courageously announced his intention to rehabilitate a dilapidated 12-mile stretch between the Arizona Capitol and Arizona State University in Tempe.

He appropriately branded the area along Washington Street the Opportunity Corridor and pledged to replace the shuttered businesses, vacant lots and dilapidated trailer parks with new office, biomedical, industrial and developments.

Unfortunately, the recession stepped in before the idea could fully take root and today the Opportunity Corridor is still packed with opportunity, but short on actual redevelopment projects.

That is, unless you take into consideration one major development that occurred in the interim: light rail.

Construction of a light rail line through parts of Tempe, Mesa and Phoenix – including in the Opportunity Corridor — raises critical questions about its potential effect on land use and urban development. But more importantly, light rail presents an enormous (and to date un-tapped) opportunity in Arizona for resident and community leaders to take their eyes off the sprawl ball and focus, instead, on how to build viable development along the track in order to sustain ridership.

Though it’s been considered a dirty word here for decades, density has a place in the Valley. That place is along the light rail.

Like the spine is to the human body, light rail is the backbone of a thriving urban scene. Density is the fuel that feeds the core. To flourish, density needs zoning code changes and public policies that encourage a vertical mix of commercial and residential projects.

In short: light rail begs for compact, sustainable, transit-oriented development (TOD) that promotes walkability and increases dependence on public transportation.

Cultivating density along transportation routes is nothing new. The growth patterns are a throwback to the turn of the century, when neighborhoods, homes and businesses cropped up along streetcar lines.  Post-World War II growth in Phoenix has seen this same pattern spring up along corridors where miles of freeway, parkways and loops were rolled out.  What’s new, at least for metro Phoenix this time around, is a concerted effort by the public and private sector to make it happen along the light rail corridor.

Said Phoenix Community Alliance President Don Keuth, speaking last year at a meeting of Arizona State University’s Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family and HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims: “Different rules are going to come out of Washington that will make doing the ‘same old’ impossible, and if we don’t have a plan to meet these new objectives, then we will be left behind.”

Summing up, he added, “We need to instill ‘spinal courage’ to do something different because we have to. If we don’t, this community is not going to reach its potential.”

The Arizona chapter of the Urban Land Institute, LISC  Phoenix, ASU Stardust Center, and the City of Phoenix have been collaborating to aggressively pursue funding to promote transit oriented development along the Opportunity Corridor.  The recent launch of the amazingly interactive website www.connectingphoenix.com demonstrates the true opportunities that light rail presents for the metro Phoenix region.

These efforts and the efforts of other community leaders have the potential to lay the groundwork for truly sustainable transit oriented development in Phoenix.  It’s only a matter of time before we start benefiting from these efforts and enjoy our Phoenix urban lifestyle experience!

Green, but still feeling guilty about negatively impacting the environment

Taking The Blame: Sustainable Experts Feel The Guilt

Being green isn’t always easy. With the commercialization of practically everything nowadays, sometimes it’s simply easier to do things the “non-green” way.

And we’re not the only ones who succumb to this.

An article in the New York Times sheds light on this issue with a great piece titled “Green, but Still Feeling Guilty.”

In the story, several leading figures in the sustainability movement sheepishly admit that they, too, sometimes take the easy way out.

Disposable diapers are one example. Several of the individuals interviewed admitted to using them on their children. Despite their best efforts to act in a sustainable manner, often this is easier said than done, and there is no better example out there than babies and their diaper needs.

From having a pool, to owning two homes, the list of green “offenses” goes on. But the message remained the same: no one is perfect in the quest to lead a sustainable lifestyle. What matters most is that the good outweigh the bad. So you use diapers, no problem, but then you’ve got to minimize your impact in other ways and so forth.

In this day and age, it’d be difficult to lead a life that wouldn’t in some shape, way or form harm the environment. There’s no reason to feel guilty. There is a difference between wastefulness and necessity. Making smart choices in places that you can (i.e. recycling, limiting water use, etc) will hopefully make the kind of impact that will make Mother Earth happy with us for years to come.

Food Basket

Listen To Mother: Eat Your Vegetables And Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

Eat your vegetables. Your grandma said it, your mom said it — even Popeye said it — and now your doctor should be saying it regularly as well. A new analysis of existing research suggests that eating more green, leafy vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Why is this important? Nearly one in five hospitalizations in 2008 involved patients with diabetes, according to a recent federal report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. And, the cost of caring for those patients was $83 billion for 7.7 million stays, or nearly one in four dollars of hospital costs that year, according to the report. The report also says the average cost for each of those diabetes-related hospitalizations was $10,937, nearly $2,200 more than the cost of a stay for a patient without a diagnosis of diabetes.

The rates of type 2 diabetes have been going up in the United States as the population has become more overweight, the authors of the analysis noted. So, one of the consequences of not eating our vegetables is that it hits our wallets as drastically as it hits our waistlines. For decades, scientists have been trying to understand the role that diet plays in the development of the disease. Researchers, led by nutritionist Patrice Carter at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, examined six studies that looked at the links between diet and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. They found that compared with those who ate the least amount of green, leafy vegetables (0.2 servings daily), people who ate the most (1.35 servings daily) had a 14 percent reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes. However, the analysis didn’t show that increasing overall intake of fruit, vegetables, or a combination of both, would make a significant difference in risk, Carter and colleagues reported in the Aug. 19 online edition of the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

Still, in the analysis, the authors concluded that “increasing daily intake of green, leafy vegetables could significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and should be investigated further.” Evidence also indicates that these vegetables may play a role in prevention of certain cancers, as well as obesity and its consequences. So, what are some green, leafy veggies of choice? Well, spinach, of course, but also broccoli, kale, sprouts and cabbage can reduce the risk by 14 percent when eaten daily, because they are rich in antioxidants and magnesium, which has been linked to lower levels of diabetes. Whether we like it or not, no matter who it comes from, “eat your vegetables” is sound advice.

Illustration of suburb with recycle logo

Sustainability Is Possible In The Suburbs. Really.

Is it possible to build a sustainable suburb? The answer depends largely upon your perspective.

Of course, sustainability is a word freely associated these days with eco-friendly building materials, alternative energy and “living off the grid,” and is usually used in conjunction with the concepts of urban living, light-rail and transportation-oriented development. However, some of the first sustainable buildings were lovingly referred to as “land ships,” and built far from cities.

The deserts of Taos, N.M., for example, still host these forward-thinking renegade buildings dating back to the late 1960s and 1970s, and were colorfully branded by many as “crazy hippy stuff.”  And certainly these buildings are a far cry from the buildings and locations we think of as locations of sustainable development today.

Arizona has long been associated with sprawl, and frankly it’s the reason why the sustainable movement has been slow to catch. However, with a struggling economy and real estate development virtually at a standstill, it’s important to think beyond our limited frame of reference. But the suburb? Can it really be sustainable?  Our twin love affair with privacy and the automobile has made the suburb far from a likely place to orchestrate sustainability. Places where garages line streets instead of trees and retail buildings have walls around them virtually imposing a drive instead of a walk. But there is a sustainable sun on the horizon.

Arizona State University’s Stardust Resource Center has created a Growing Sustainable Communities Initiative, and its strategies for growing sustainable communities in the Valley of the Sun include:

  • Promoting mixed land uses
  • A range of housing types
  • Thriving economies
  • Environmentally responsive design
  • Having a variety of transportation choices
  • Compact development
  • Making places safe
  • Promoting healthy living
  • Community engagement

 

I could write four pages about each of those points, but essentially they mean: building sustainably occurs block-by-block, street-by-street, house-by-house. It is an organic process and there is no cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, the standard of cookie cutter replication is what has created much of the challenges in every community built after 1950 in Arizona.

To be successful, it is imperative that we change our standard “square mile” approach to development, where commercial businesses exist only on the edges and residential homes on the interior and there is virtually no interplay between them. No parks, and no tree-lined streets. A better strategy is to develop on the quarter-mile, where neighborhoods have work and play uses and schools and shopping centers interact with residential neighborhoods through a network of paths and pedestrian/bike connections — just like the village concepts of the historic neighborhoods built prior to the 1950s. Ask any Midwesterner what they miss about home and I’ll bet they say their “neighborhoods.” There’s a reason why.

What the sustainable movement is advocating is greater creativity on the developer side and less regulation and restrictions on the government side. Scott Carlin, an associate professor of geography at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, makes an excellent case for a deeper theory of sustainability. He suggests we re-invigorate ties to cities and villages, by building new homes only where there are existing water and sewer lines, sidewalks, schools, businesses and the other infrastructure within a reasonably close radius. In other words, so we can get out of our cars and walk.

What about existing neighborhoods? Well, they can be re-imagined as sustainable by relaxing zoning code to allow for commercial uses consistent with vibrant neighborhoods and by resisting the status quo. It will also happen when residents advocate for and pursue the creation of public amenities like parks and pathways and tree-lined streets. Even the Urban Land Institute recognizes the opportunities suburbs represent because it’s where the biggest gains could be made. Still, it cautions that connecting the dots between suburban projects through effective sub-regional planning is essential.

It is possible for us to focus on more than buildings when we think of sustainability.  With a bit of imagination, and the commitment to integrate the principles of sustainability even on the outskirts of town, we can succeed. Surprisingly, in fact, we won’t be creating anything new. Because, it’s when we look to the past and incorporate the best of what it means to live in an American neighborhood we win. Sustainability is certainly a look to the future, but its reality and its secrets are grounded in our American past.

Tartesso Elementary

Elementary School Leaves A Small Carbon Footprint

Buckeye’s Tartesso Elementary School is receiving high marks, but it has nothing to do with the kids in the classroom.

On Aug. 19, 2010, the United States Green Building Council awarded the 3-year-old school with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for sustainable building design.

Tartesso, a part of the Saddle Mountain Unified School District, is the first fully state-funded LEED Silver School in Arizona with this recognition.

“Having the certification is a big bonus to our district,” said Dr. Deborah Garza-Chavez, principal of Tartesso. “It’s nice to be noticed as a small district by trying to provide the best learning environment for our students and staff.”

The school had just a little more than 200 students upon opening in 2008 and only served kindergarten through 6th grade. Now fully functioning up to 8th grade, more than 600 students walk the halls of a completely sustainable and environmentally conscious building.

Architects and engineers from DLR Group were responsible for the building designs of the school and worked with budgets allocated by the Arizona State School of Facilities Board.

“Before we started designing the facility in early 2006, we brought our team into a brainstorming session where we could evaluate and strategize as to what sustainable products we wanted to use,” said Bill Taylor, a LEED-accredited professional with DLR Group.

The staff and students at Tartesso have a wide variety of energy saving technologies and products that create a healthy learning environment.

In an effort to reduce water shortages, the building design provides a plumbing system that conserves water. All of the boys’ restrooms contain waterless urinals and the kitchen sinks have low flow water fixtures, a reduction that saves half a million gallons of water per year.

The school provides a high performing mechanical system that goes above and beyond state standards.

A completely computer controlled airflow system continuously brings in new air circulation and automatically turns off air conditioning in an unoccupied room.  This reduces the annual energy cost by 20 percent, in comparison to a building that just meets the state code requirements.

In addition to significant energy savings, DLR Group improved the indoor environmental quality of Tartesso.  The building is positioned so that natural daylight offsets the artificial lighting in all occupied academic spaces, reducing energy and improving the educational environment.

Only low organic compound paint was used and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) free carpets were installed to promote a healthy interior for students and staff.

“[Students] have benefited from not having those harsh smells,” said Angel Tellez, Facilities Engineer for Saddle Mountain Unified School District. “Everything is kid friendly and environmentally friendly and that is improving the learning environment.”

Not only has the school been a leader in sustainable innovations, but it has served as an asset to the economy by purchasing materials from local companies. Ingredients in the concrete were all locally harvested and nothing was shipped long distance.

“This is a place that has students, staff and the community in mind,” said Premnath Sundharam, Senior Associate for DLR Group. “It’s an educational tool for what can be done on limited funds while still making an impact on the environment.”

This exhibit showing the creative uses of recycled items is aimed at raising awareness of the sustainability movement in Poland. Photo: Kasia Marciszewska

Seeing Poland In A Green Light

Our associate editor and resident green blogger, Kasia Marciszewska, is currently traveling in Europe. While there, she stopped by her native country of Poland. Ever vigilant about the subject of sustainability, Kasia sought out Poland’s green side.

Visiting my home country of Poland is always a fun and exciting experience. It seems every time I come here something is different, as Poland continues to shift and grow with the changing times.

This visit proved to me once again how far the country has come, when I realized that Poland was taking “being green” to a new level.  The concept of eco-friendliness in some ways is new to the country, but upon closer inspection it seems that Poland was on the road to helping the environment long before it became popular.

One way the country is and has been reducing its environmental impact is through its transportation system. Many of Poland’s residents commute via public transportation, which includes trams, rail and bus. Though not always the fastest routes, public transportation is an integral way of life for the Polish people and definitely the greener way to travel.

One can easily travel throughout Poland on public transportation. The rail systems span the whole country, and you can travel with relative ease; from the northern city of Gdansk all the way down to Krakow in the south, it’s all just a train ride away.  Travel to neighboring countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic also can easily be done via trains, making visiting other countries ecologically sound.

Though transportation by car has steadily increased over the years, the sizeable difference is in the cars themselves, literally. Cars in Poland are taxed based on their engine size, so many people choose to drive cars with smaller engines (thus fewer emissions) in order to reduce their costs. That frugalness helps the environment at the same time (The price of gas in Poland is also extremely high, so using public transportation makes much more economic sense for most people).

Another “green” innovation in Poland is grocery bags, or rather the lack thereof. Many of Poland’s cities are making an effort to reduce plastic bag waste by simply asking customers if they need a bag. The catch? If you want a bag you’ll have to pay for it! A nominal fee is tacked on for plastic bags during your shopping, so a better, cheaper and greener alternative is to bring your own bags.

The cities of Gdansk, Inowroclaw, Tychy and Zabrze already have passed local laws to ban the free handing out of plastic bags, and many more cities are deciding on similar initiatives.

Poland is truly undergoing a cultural shift toward environmental friendliness. Awareness about the topic is spreading with more and more initiatives sprouting up all over the country.

I recently observed an exhibition at a shopping center in Wroclaw titled “Eco Fashion.” The goal of the exhibition was to demonstrate practices on how to recycle with a focus on fashion.  The campaign showed a multitude of creative ideas for recycling everyday items into clothes, furniture and more, along with games, prizes and interesting facts about recycling. For example, did you know that recycling one plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours?

The entries varied in shape and size from a plastic cup coffee table to a dress made from garbage bags. But the overall message was heard loud and clear, eco-friendliness is here to stay in Poland — with many more “green” advances to come!

Tony Tiedemann

Phoenix-Based Company Takes Sustainability Global

Tiedemann Globe is putting a new spin on the adage “from rags to riches” in its commitment to sustainability.

The company sells and exports used clothing and industrial wiping rags in the hopes of cashing in on some green – green energy, that is. Tiedemann Globe recycles about 30 million pounds of used goods and clothing annually, in addition to spreading sustainable energy practices worldwide.

“We can make a difference; that’s what I believe in,” says Tony Tiedemann, founder and president of Phoenix-based Tiedemann Globe. “We’re not going to wait for the government to tell us what we can or can’t do. I think we can make changes now.”

Tiedemann Globe’s vintage finds are sold worldwide through several venues. TheRagHouse, an ebay.com store, sells vintage clothing in bulk, at Tiedemann Family Thrift and Vintage store, at 755 W. Baseline Road in Tempe, Ariz., and in Nairobi, Kenya, shoppers can buy used clothing.

If clothes can’t be sold, they are torn up and turned into industrial wiping rags.

“We even take it a step further. Clothing that’s no good for the wiping rags gets mutilated by other companies for padding of trunks of cars or the inside of pet bedding,” says Tiedemann.

It’s rare to have an item of clothing enter Tiedemann Globe that cannot be turned into a useable product. The company has 8 percent to 10 percent waste, but is striving to become a zero waste facility within the next two years.

The commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there. Tiedemann Globe is helping citizens of Third World countries adopt sustainable practices that will help advance their quality of life. The Clean Energy Foundation, part of Tiedemann Globe, is introducing green practices to citizens in Kenyan villages.

Tiedemann Globe has sold used clothing in Kenya for almost 18 years, which made it the ideal location to start green education because the company already had infrastructure in place and Kenya has a great need for green education.

“There’s a huge demand (in Kenya). These people don’t even have a place to put their human waste, which is crazy to think about. So that’s why we started there,” says Tiedemann.

The Clean Energy Foundation has set up solar panels, water filtration and biogas conversion centers in rural Kenya with the goal of raising Kenyans’ quality of life. Biogas filtration centers turn waste into energy, while solar panels power schools and other buildings.

“Our primary purpose of providing the power is for light and specifically for education. Statistics show if the women are educated in society, everything else gets elevated and that’s our goal,” he adds.

Tiedemann has plans for the rest of the world, too. The company recently started a solar project in Rocky Point, Mexico, but Tiedemann is looking to another form of energy to power the world in the future.

“Eventually I think hydrogen’s the way. I know that a lot of people will argue that. But eventually I believe that we will get there. It’s the most abundant element out there and we’ve got to use it,” Tiedemann says.

As for how he plans to stay green in Phoenix, Tiedemann drives a natural gas car and the company’s forklifts run on propane. Tiedemann says he wants to see the green sector of Tiedemann Globe grow to become the biggest part of the company in the near future.

Tiedemann’s advice for companies that want to become more eco-friendly is to get help and don’t think too big.

“There are tons of companies out there that can help set up an infrastructure (to go green),” he says. “The bottom line is just to start small. Start and keep progressing as much as you can.”

@tiedemannglobe
www.tiedemannglobe.com

Green tax incentives 2010

Go Green With Government Tax Incentives


The increased cost of energy, the country’s dependence on foreign oil and the environmental impact of current energy use have inspired many companies to “go green.” Federal and state governments are expanding tax credits, tax incentives and grant programs to create economic incentives to help companies produce and/or use energy from renewable sources. Here are a few tips to help your company “go green.” As with all tax advice, be sure to consult with an expert as these laws are subject to various limitations, phase-outs and other nuances.

Federal incentives and credits for general businesses

  • Energy-efficient commercial business deduction – Businesses can deduct up to $1.80 per square foot of space in new or existing buildings where they install interior lighting, HVAC or hot water systems.

  • Business energy investment tax credit – A 10 percent credit (for geothermal, microturbines or combined heat and power systems) or a 30 percent credit (for solar, fuel cells or small wind turbines) for alternative energy property designed to generate power for the taxpayer’s own use.

  • Alternative motor vehicle credit - A tax credit of up to $2,400 for the purchase of a qualifying fuel cell, hybrid, advanced lean burn technology or alternative fuel vehicle. There are various phase-outs depending on the make and model of the vehicle.

  • Plug-in electric vehicle credit - A credit of up to $7,500 (depending on type of vehicle) for consumers, including businesses and individuals, who purchase or lease and place in service a qualifying plug-in hybrid vehicle.

  • Qualified reuse and recycling property - Businesses can take the equivalent of bonus depreciation for qualified reuse and recycling property that otherwise would not qualify. The machinery or equipment must be used exclusively to collect, distribute or recycle qualified reuse and recyclable materials.

  • Fringe benefits for employees – Bicycle commuters are now allowed a $20 per month fringe benefit exclusion and the transit fringe benefit exclusion has been increased to $230 in 2009.


Federal incentives for specific manufacturers and developers

  • Energy-efficient appliance credit - Provides manufacturers of appliances a credit for the production of energy-efficient clothes washers ($75–$250), dishwashers ($45–$75) and refrigerators ($50–$200).

  • Energy-efficient new homes credit – Provides homebuilders and developers a credit of up to $2,000 for newly constructed homes that meet certain energy-efficiency standards.

  • Alcohol fuel (ethanol) producer credit - Businesses can take a 60 cent per 190-proof gallon credit for alcohol produced for use as a fuel or to be blended into fuel. An additional 10 cents per gallon small ethanol producer credit is available, as is a higher credit rate for cellulosic biofuel.

  • Biodiesel and renewable diesel credit - Provides up to a $1.00 per gallon credit for qualifying biodiesel and renewable diesel, similar to the ethanol credit. The incentive may be taken as an income tax credit, an excise tax credit or as a payment from Treasury.


Arizona-specific incentives

  • Renewable energy operations credit - Arizona enacted a refundable corporate income tax credit for qualified investment and employment in expanding or locating qualified renewable energy operations in Arizona.  The credit is available for tax years beginning on or after December 31, 2009 through December 31, 2014. The credit is 10 percent of the capital investment in projects meeting minimum employment requirements.


  • Pollution control equipment credit - Taxpayers may claim an income tax credit for 10 percent of the purchase price of property used in the taxpayer’s business to control pollution.  The credit applies to certain qualifying equipment that reduces the pollution resulting from the taxpayer’s operations in Arizona.  The maximum credit that a taxpayer may claim is $500,000 per tax year.

  • Ken Garrett is a partner and the tax practice leader in the Phoenix office of Grant Thornton, LLP. For more information, please contact Ken at 602.474.3456 or at ken.garrett@gt.com



Untapped Niche 2010

The Untapped Niche Of Green Aftermarket Auto Care

By Rissy Sutherland


Going green is a major step to take, but it’s the right step for businesses, their customers and the planet.

In late 2007, Honest-1 Auto Care hired a market research/strategic marketing agency to help discover an untapped niche in the aftermarket auto care and maintenance industry. Results of the research project revealed that consumers wanted an environmentally responsible company to provide their car repair and maintenance needs.

There was a void in the auto-care market for such a company, and Honest-1 made the strategic decision to fill it by going green and providing what consumers wanted.

By August 2008, every Honest-1 Auto Care shop was Environmentally Sustainable Actions Certified (ESA). The ESA Certification is implemented by the company through its own standards for pollution prevention, recycling and resource conservation. To demonstrate the brand’s commitment to going green, Honest-1 Auto Care launched an exclusive line of auto care products that combine leading edge technology with innovative additives.

Initially, there was some concern among franchisees about moving to an eco-friendly positioning because they felt comfortable with the existing position of Honest-1 as an honest and female-friendly business. Another concern was the cost to operate as an eco-friendly business. As it turned out, the incremental expense was nothing substantial because it was mostly substitutions and  changes in business practices. The new positioning helped to engage customers more closely to the brand and increase their loyalty. Same-store sales are up 10 percent this year over last year.

 

honest autocare 2 2010Girls planting trees.
Photo Courtesy of: American Forests

The biggest impact on franchisees was the ESA program, which spelled out what would be expected of them as they operated under the new business model. The franchisees had time to review and assess the program, and Honest-1 Auto Care executives visited each store to ensure they were ESA certified. Every franchisee is required to update their certification when significant updates to the program or system are needed.

Communication was the key during the transition process. Communication among franchisees, between franchisees and the franchisor were equally important. Honest-1 also convened a board of advisers, which sorted out all of the benefits and potential pitfalls. The board gave the franchisees a voice in the matter. Franchisees communicated their ideas and concerns, and Honest-1 executives responded to them.

So far the response from the franchise community has been very positive, and customers have also provided strong, positive feedback. Both groups are attracted to the cause Honest-1 is supporting, as many share the same values in their personal lives that Honest-1 believes in as a business.

Because any company that “goes green” has to demonstrate to consumers that its efforts are sincere, Honest-1 formed a partnership with American Forests, a leading nonprofit organization that plants trees for environmental restoration. As a franchise system, Honest-1 has jointly committed to planting 40,000 new trees to reinforce the company’s promise to be the most eco-friendly auto repair and maintenance chain in the nation. Honest-1 Auto Care is currently the only auto repair franchise chain to enter into a year-long agreement of this magnitude with American Forests.

It’s important to remember that companies that don’t practice what they preach will be called out by consumers, especially those who identify themselves as eco-friendly.

Rissy Sutherland is senior vice president/operations for Honest-1 Auto Care, based in Scottsdale. More information is available at www.honest-1.com

 

Eco Tourism - travel green

Ecotourism – The Green Way To Vacation

The United Nations designated 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism. Well it’s 2010 and I bet that the majority of people haven’t taken an eco-vacation.  I know I haven’t.

We try to be eco-friendly.  We buy reusable water bottles and lunch pails.  We turn off the lights more often and take shorter showers.  But what if we could reduce, reuse and recycle while having an amazing vacation?

I’d say, “Sign me up.”

I did some Internet research and I found out some major and minor ways you can be an eco-tourist.

Minor Ways to Help Mother Earth

The International Ecotourism Society has 10 energy saving tips for travelers.

Here are three of them:

Stay longer at your destination to avoid frequent air travel. I think we could all stand to stay a little longer at our chosen destination. This way you can discover, learn and play more while reducing your carbon footprint.

Travel light. Every extra, unneeded item in your bag adds to the weight of the plane, which increases the carbon emissions of your flight.  Travel light and leave a light carbon footprint behind.

Just like at home, turn off water and unplug electronics when you leave. When you’re on vacation, you’re most likely not spending too much time in your hotel room.  It’s easy to forget that just because you’re not paying for the electricity that doesn’t mean that Mother Nature should have to pay too.

Major Ways to See and Save the Earth

Travel somewhere that involves more hiking and less traffic. Hiking, kayaking, biking and other similar activities involve little to no adverse impacts on the Earth.  Plus, it’s a great way to explore the beauty and diversity of nature.

Stay at eco-friendly hotels. Although it may be a bit more expensive it is doable.  Some hotels claim to be green simply because they ask you if you want to reuse your towels and sheets.  Hopefully these websites will help sort out the imposters from the true blue “green” hotels.

Be a voluntourist. A voluntourist is a combination between a tourist and a volunteer.  He or she travels a location and gives back to the community, whether it be through developing wildlife and plant life or helping at a local school.  Being a voluntourist might sound like something college students do, but anyone, at any age can do it.

Ecotourism covers a broad range of vacation destinations and activities to help preserve the Earth, which is one of the reasons why eight years ago the U.N. made an effort to promote it.  Along with the range of ecotourism choices comes a range of things tourists can do – from giving their time to leaving that tenth pair of shoes that probably won’t get worn anyway at home.

Google Buys Wind Power

Oil Spill, Google Wind Power & More

From global new to local business this week we’ve gathered stories about how hair can help the oil spill, what Belgium wants to do with the deceased, Google buying wind power and more. Plus, we’ve got an additional story on what one Valley business is doing to help the environment.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing Shelby Hill.

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state. Read the latest article here.

Local
Cut Your Hair and Help the Oil Spill
Matter of Trust wants you to mail your hair, your dog’s hair and your kids’ hair to them to help soak up the oil in the Gulf.  Send hair to 99 Saint Germain Ave., San Francisco, CA 94114, and visit http://www.matteroftrust.org/ to see images of the hair in action.

Learn about the “Energize Phoenix Project”
The “Energize Phoenix Project” will provide energy-efficient improvements to neighborhoods along the 10-mile stretch of Phoenix’s light rail corridor.  It’s expected that this project will create up to 8,000 new jobs over the next six years.  To learn more about this project, attend the Phoenix Green Chamber of Commerce’s education forum on Monday, July 26.

National
Google Buys 20 Years of Wind Power from Iowa Farm
Google Energy, a subsidiary of Google, signed a 20-year deal with Story II Wind Energy Center in Iowa to buy wind power.  This is another step in achieving Google’s goal of becoming a carbon-neutral company.

In California, Kaiser Gives $1 Million to Build Green Health Clinic
La Maestra Community Health Center in San Diego would not only be green, but also help promote green building and living to the surrounding community.  La Maestra could be the first of its kind to earn LEED certification.  This clinic’s impact wouldn’t be small either, the clinic, expected to be 36,400 square feet, is projected to see 180,000 patient and client visits annually.

International
An Eco-Friendly Burial Isn’t a Burial at All
Belgium authorities hatched a plan to dissolve the dead in caustic solutions and flush them into the sewer system as a way to replace cremating and burial in a cemetery, which are both not environmentally friendly. Six states, including Colorado and Oregon, recently passed legislation to allow this process to occur in the United States.

Iceland Volcano Causes Decrease in CO2 Emissions
Think back to April when the hard-to-pronounce volcano Eyjafjallajökull had European planes grounded for six days.  Those six days without most of the European air traffic decreased our carbon emissions dramatically.  The volcano did release CO2, but at a much lower rate than humans produce.  Is nature sending us a message?

Mark Wilhelm Lifetime Achievement Az Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Lifetime Achievement

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: Mark Wilhelm, LEED AP
Co-founder, Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants

Mark Wilhelm has a long-standing commitment to the green movement, and over the years he has given countless hours toward improving the earth.

Wilhelm realized in 1973 that he wanted to create ways to make the U.S. a sustainable place to live. He focused on solar energy technology, building energy simulation, and designing energy-efficient buildings. After earning his master’s in environmental planning from Arizona State University, Wilhelm worked for APS for 13 years, where he headed the development of the APS Environmental Showcase Home (ESH). The home is designed to use 60 percent less water and 85 percent less energy than a regular home and displayed new sustainable technologies, materials and procedures.

In 1994, Wilhelm created the firm Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants with his colleague, Charlie Popeck, to promote green building. He also volunteers to teach sustainability to ASU students and community organizations throughout the Valley.

Wilhelm is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Arizona Chapter, and served as chapter chairman in 2006. In 2007, Wilhelm successfully lobbied to have the Arizona chapter host the 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. He also helped to choose the LEED Silver certified Phoenix Convention Center as the site of the conference. To recognize Wilhelm for his hard work and passion, he was named chairman of the Greenbuild Host Committee. The 2009 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo truly engaged the greater Phoenix community and attracted more than 27,000 attendees from around the world.

www.egreenideas.com


Finalist: Edwards Design Group
www.edwardsdesigngroup.com

The Edwards Design Group is the pioneer of building environmentally sound, energy efficient homes in Scottsdale, Ariz. Brothers Kevin Edwards and Doug Edwards have been creating environmentally friendly homes for customers for thirty years. The company’s green approach protects the earth, conserves energy and saves homeowners money.

The Edwards Design Group was the first construction group to create and build a house using straw bale and autoclave aerated concrete, an insulated building block that doesn’t need to be as replaced as often as regular concrete. The Edwards Design Group also set up recycling processes on site during construction, saving one owner over $25,000.

The Edwards Design Group helped the City of Scottsdale increase its awareness on environmentally friendly and safe building techniques and materials. The company works closely with the City of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program, and has participated in the annual “Green Building Expo.” Kevin and Doug both host a TV show called “Sustainable Scottsdale.”


Finalist: Richard Franz-Under, RA, LEED AP
Pima County Development Services
www.pimaxpress.com

Richard Franz-Under made history in Arizona when he received the first LEED certification for a building in the state. The Desert Vista Campus Plaza Building at Pima Community College was also the 31st building in the world to achieve LEED certification. In 1997, while working at Pima Community College, he developed the first green building program and is the state’s leading expert in designing buildings to meet LEED certification.

His dedication to sustainability doesn’t end there. Franz-Under commutes 20 miles round trip to work on a bicycle and provides community outreach for sustainable construction practices and affordable housing. He also manages a LEED for Homes Provider program — the only one in the nation — and is currently supervising the certification process of one remodel, 94 multifamily units and 62 new homes.

Franz-Under has served as a consultant for several different LEED projects in Arizona and speaks to the community throughout the year, educating people about the importance of green building practices.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Green Innovation SRP Earthwise - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Green Innovation

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: SRP EarthWise

SRP has a wide variety of sustainable solutions that allow customers to reduce their carbon footprint and do their part to help save the environment. The SRP EarthWise programs are the first step in this process.

One program, EarthWise Energy, produces electricity from renewable resources like the sun, wind and water. Once the electricity is produced, it is sent to the SRP electric system for all customers to use. By using renewable power, there is less need to use fossil fuels. This program is offered to customers for an extra $3 per month. So far, EarthWise Energy has about 5,300 people participating.

Another SRP EarthWise program, EarthWise Solar Energy, allows customers to install solar electric or solar water systems in their homes or businesses for a reduced price. Businesses also can offset electricity usage with natural sources by joining the EarthWise Renewable Energy Credits program. SRP customers also are given the option to support reforestation through Trees for Change.

SRP EarthWise has several other programs that help the community take an active part in the movement to save energy. These programs include: EarthWise Solar for Schools; EarthWise Renewable Energy Credits; EarthWise Trees for Change; EarthWise Mowing Down Pollution; and EarthWise Powering Our Future.

www.srpnet.com


Finalist: Burgis Envirolutions
www.burgisenviro.com

Burgis Envirolutions is redefining the traditional composting process, and allowing food operators to effectively manage food waste with innovative green technology.

The Organic Refuse Conversion Alternative is a technology that converts food into a water waste that can be discharged or treated and reused in irrigation. The ORCA uses natural microorganisms and biochips to process and break down food on site.

The ORCA allows businesses to save time and money, while reducing their carbon footprint. Businesses will not have to pay for hauling fees or labor costs that come from disposing their food waste at compost locations. By making less trips hauling food, carbon emissions will be lowered.

The ORCA is offered in six sizes. It requires very little power and uses only a small amount of water, from 40 to 200 gallons depending on the machine size.

Burgis Envirolutions was awarded the 2009 Valley Forward/SRP Crescordia Award in Green Technology.


Finalist: Phoenix Children’s Hospital
www.phoenixchildrens.com

Phoenix Children’s Hospital is changing the way hospitals approach their responsibilities to the environment and their patients.



The Hospital recently spent $588 million to build an additional 11-story tower for patients. During construction the hospital was conscious of the design, construction and operations practices it used, and as a result the new building will use 20 percent less energy.

Phoenix Children’s most recognizable sustainability effort is the Central Energy Plant (CEP) that powers the hospital’s 34 acres. The CEP uses an 800-ton water-to-water heat pump chiller that saves 5.6 million gallons of water each year, and over the next 15 years the CEP is expected to save the hospital $11 million in energy and operating costs.

The hospital maintains a paperless policy, and sends materials to subcontractors through online distribution. Recycling is heavily emphasized and throughout the construction process more than 70 percent of the construction waste was recycled.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Corporate Green Programs & Practices - city-of-peoria - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

BIG Green Awards: Corporate Green Programs & Practices

Twelve categories, hundreds of nominations — but only one will take home the green. It’s the first annual Southwest Build-it-Green Awards, where BIG teamed up with the USGBC to bring you the leanest sustainable leaders and projects in Arizona.

Recipient: City of Peoria

Green initiatives have gone from paper and thoughts to parks and neighborhoods in the city of Peoria. City employees at every level, from the mayor to the custodial staff, have supported Peoria’s push for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly community.

City leaders added a sustainability policy to Peoria’s general plan, and a Sustainability Action Plan sets goals and measures progress in eight green areas. The Sustainability Action Plan includes goals in the areas of rethinking energy use, managing water resources, and promoting sustainable development and green-collar jobs. The city also created the “Sustain & Gain” motto as a central message to help promote these goals.

In addition, the city created a sustainability matrix to maintain goals and action plans for cost-effective green practices. As a living document, the matrix sets timelines for the completion of goals, keeps an inventory of accomplished goals and designates project leaders.

Along with setting goals and creating plans, Peoria also ceased distributing paper pay stubs to employees who are paid electronically, and the city only posts job openings online. City employees are encouraged to use green forms of transportation, be environmentally aware, present major progress made in areas of the Sustainability Action Plan at forums, and participate in green programs. For the public, Peoria’s Building Community Speakers Series hosts presentations by experts in fields related to sustainability at city council meetings.

www.peoriaaz.gov


Adolfson & Peterson Construction’s “Green Fists of Fury”
www.a-p.com

Adolfson & Peterson Construction rules not with iron, but green fists.  The company’s green fists of fury, or Hulk hands, signify the company’s commitment to green practices.  Adolfson & Peterson encourages and pays for employees to become Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified.  Once LEED certified, employees receive their own green fist to display with pride in their office.

The company also integrated a hybrid fleet of cars, recycling and carpooling or telecommuting programs into its daily operations.  Adolfson & Peterson established satellite offices in Buckeye and Tucson, Ariz., to cut down on employee commuting.  The company’s hybrid fleet of cars even boasts a Smart Car for employee use.  Through its recycling program, Adolfson & Peterson recycled more than 1,000 tons of construction waste in Arizona in 2009.

Adolfson & Peterson strives to reduce its own carbon footprint and the footprint of its clients.  The company built the first LEED Silver Certified high school in Arizona, currently has more than 30 LEED-certified or pending projects and has helped Arizona State University and Carl Hayden High School start green programs.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

USA Energy Guide

Green News Roundup – Alternative Energy, USAEnergyGuide & More

I’m always on the lookout for developments in the local sustainability industry. USAEnergyGuide was started by three Arizona entrepreneurs passionate about the environment. Realizing that rebate and tax incentives are hard for consumers to navigate, they jumped at the opportunity to create a site that would be simple and user-friendly.

Originally only for Arizona residents, the site has recently expanded to include California and Texas with plans to add more states in the future. USAEnergyGuide is your free online source used to calculate rebates and savings that you can receive by switching to more sustainable forms of energy.

I had the pleasure of meeting with two of the company’s founders — Michael Barber, director of operations and Ken Bonham, director of business development — who took the time to answer a few questions I had about their company.

What led to the creation of USA Energy Guide?
One of our Founders was going through the process of researching how much it would cost to install solar panels on their home, how much they would save on a monthly and yearly basis and what the tax incentives and rebates were, but couldn’t find a site that answered all these questions. So, we sat down and mapped out how we could make this process easier for consumers.

What challenges did you encouter and how were these overcome?
Similar to many startups we had the classic chicken and egg scenario. In order for the company to be successful, we needed installers who matched our qualification criteria and qualified leads (consumers) who were interested in being contacted by these installers. We worked to introduce ourselves to every installer in the markets we served so they could understand how we could help them be successful and also focused on connecting to consumers via social media. Along the way, various local media outlets stumbled across our site and did stories on us. The press stories and word of mouth helped us overcome both these initial challenges.

What are the company’s full line of  services?
For consumers, we provide simple ways to understand how much money alternative energy would save them, what rebates and incentives are available in their geographic area and all associated rebates for the products they are interested in. For installers, we provide leads to consumers and business owners who are qualified and ready to purchase these products.

What is your favorite aspect of the industry/company?
Our favorite aspect of the sustainability and alternative energy industry is that it is rapidly expanding and changing every day. There are new advances in solar technology and energy efficiency regularly, and more and more consumers are trying to understand how they can minimize their impact on the environment. This makes every day different and pushes our team to understand how we can help both our customers — installers and consumers — reach their goals.

What kind of a role do you think sustainability plays in today’s Arizona economy?
Right now, the sustainability industry in Arizona is only in its infancy. As costs for alternative energy technology decrease and consumers’ interest in living a greener lifestyle increase, the industry has nowhere to go, but up. However (and this is big however), the industry’s Achilles heel is support from local, state and federal governments. Without broad based government support to spur continued growth, the industry could die a quick death.

What has been the company’s greatest achievement to date?
From the beginning our greatest achievement has been providing information to consumers they couldn’t easily find before. Along with this, it’s the stories we hear from people who have used our site, found qualified installers and are now enjoying solar panels or solar water heaters in their home.

What are your future plans for the company?
While we have been primarily focused on the solar and energy efficiency industries, the sustainability industry goes well beyond those two verticals. We have big plans to not only expand the site beyond those verticals, but become a community where visitors can find a wealth of information across a wide variety of sustainability topics, both on a national and local level.

www.usaenergyguide.com

Green News Roundup-Green Expo Conference & More

The Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference was a great success in numerous ways. You might be wondering why, so let’s go over a few reasons.


  • One-Stop-Shopping: The BIG Conference showcased a wide variety of options for people looking to move their business, organization, or home in more sustainable perspective. Instead of having to hunt for each piece of a project individually, it gave participants the opportunity to get projects started and things moving in one setting.
  • Community Engagement:  Looking to become “greener?” The BIG Conference brought those who are new to the idea and those who are seasoned veterans together under one roof. This provided a great opportunity to make networking contacts, to further your education and understanding of sustainability, and to get involved in local ideas and projects. When people get involved, things start to happen.
  • Education: The impressive array of speakers and topics gave participants the ability to see some cutting edge projects, work, and innovative ideas first hand. Not only were the speakers excellent, they were readily available and happy to chat with the participants about any questions that came up. This was a “two for one” when looked at from a community engagement perspective, as well.
  • Business Development: While the recession is still a reality check, the BIG Conference illustrated that there is current opportunity within the marketplace for ideas, products, and services related to sustainability. I firmly believe that businesses and organizations tied to furthering issues related to sustainability – be it solar, water, wind, materials, et cetera – will be wildly successful in the coming years.
  • The Right Direction: Getting people excited to go green and to move in a more sustainable direction is always a great thing. The conference helps to demonstrate that being green isn’t scary or difficult. To the contrary, the BIG conference helps people understand that it’s easy, fun, and a smart idea – personally, professionally, socially, environmentally – to move towards and adopt ideas of sustainability.


 

Valley Forward 2010

Valley Forward: Tracy Williams

Tracy Williams
Area Manager
Altrade Supplies
www.altradesupplies.com

Is there a better way to become interested and involved in environmentally friendly issues than with the Girl Scouts?

That’s what opened Tracy Williams’ eyes to recycling and the need to protect our environment. It started when she was a Girl Scout and continues today with six of her daughters, who also are scouts.

Williams is area manager for Altrade Supplies, a Milpitas, Calif.-based distributor of a variety of biodegradable products. Its motto is, “Leading the way to a Green Earth.”

“I’ve been a Girl Scout all of my life,” Williams says. “And six of my eight daughters are scouts. One of the things we do is recycle. We’re serious about Girl Scouting and recycling.”

She’s also serious about the products Altrade Supplies sells, such as biodegradable food service products, including cutlery and eating utensils; biodegradable cleaning agents; industrial safety supplies, including personal equipment to protect an individual in case of a fall, spill-control equipment and traffic safety equipment.

“Finding out about products made out of sustainable materials has really been interesting, such as the biodegradable food service products that I sell,” Williams says. “I was intrigued by that; that’s what really interested me in what sustainability was all about.”

About a year ago, George Brooks, an environmental scientist and the company’s sustainability director, introduced her to Valley Forward.

“We call him our green guru,” she says. “I was all excited to learn about this big green movement that was going on and what my place was in it. Valley Forward is an environmental organization that has been around for about 40 years, has a voice in the community, great knowledge, and has a handle on the sustainability movement.”

She joined to learn more about green efforts.

“Valley Forward is a great program and a great group of people,” Williams says. “People mingle with each other like family. It has enabled me to get out into the world and talk about my products.”

Williams became active in several Valley Forward committees, hoping to match her skills with what Valley Forward offers. She joined the membership committee because she enjoys meeting people, and she served on another panel involved in arranging events and luncheons.

Environmentally friendly products boost Arizona’s quality of life, Williams says, “by lessening our carbon footprint overall.” Her goal for Arizona is the three “R’s”: “Recycle, reuse and reduce.”

Barbara Lockwood, APS

Valley Forward: Barbara Lockwood

Barbara Lockwood
Director of Renewable Energy
Arizona Public Service
www.aps.com

Barbara Lockwood is a chemical engineer who doesn’t consider herself an environmentalist at heart, yet there she is — director of renewable energy for Arizona Public Service.

“It’s not something that’s innate in me,” Lockwood says about the environment. “I got into it from a business perspective. What makes sense to me is that we as a global economy are all tied together on one planet. What truly makes the world go around is our businesses and our connections. Accordingly, to sustain that and be viable long term we must do everything we can to protect and sustain the Earth. I truly believe our businesses run our society.”

At APS since 1999, Lockwood is responsible for renewable energy programs, including generation planning, customer programs and policy. Lockwood began her career in the chemical industry at E.I. DuPont de Nemours in various engineering and management roles on the East Coast. Later she moved into consulting and managed diverse projects for national clients throughout the country.

Lockwood, who joined Valley Forward in 1970 and now is a member of the executive committee, holds a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from Clemson University and a master of science in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“I’m a chemical engineer and I stepped into the environment right out of college,” Lockwood says. “It was a hazardous waste treatment operation.”

Although much has changed since Lockwood launched her professional journey, “renewable energy was a natural progression of my career.”

All sources of renewable energy, including solar, wind and biomass, should remain part of Arizona’s energy portfolio, she says. Lockwood mentions a biomass operation near Snowflake that generates electricity primarily by burning woody waste material from nearby national forests.

Lockwood calls Arizona “the best solar resource in the world,” and expects greater use of that renewable energy in the years ahead.

“We’re definitely working on that,” she says. “Solar is the resource of choice in the sunny Southwest.”

The main benefit of renewable energy is what you don’t see.

“It reduces polluting emissions because it is a clean source of fuel, and it offers a stable price,” Lockwood says. “What’s more, it can create jobs in Arizona.”

Lockwood touts APS’ Green Choice Programs as a way to improve the environment. Green Choice involves such things as converting to compact fluorescent light bulbs, renewable energy resources such as solar and wind, and high-efficiency air conditioning.

She also touts APS.

“The company is committed to renewable energy, and I came here because of that reputation,” Lockwood says.

Green Job Opportunities for Women

Green Job Opportunities For Women

Recently, I attended the “Women & the Green Job Movement” panel hosted by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and Zion & Zion.

Our very own Tina Robinson, exhibit director for the Southwest Build-it-Green Expo & Conference, was asked to be part of the panel and speak on various aspects of women employment in the sustainability field. The roundtable was comprised of individuals from various organizations, cities and schools with a vested interest in women and their future in green jobs.

Jenny L. Erwin, regional administrator for the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, opened the roundtable discussion. Some of the main points covered were:

  • Ensuring green jobs are “good jobs” with benefits and livable wages and career paths.
  • Definitions of green jobs and other common terms that are understandable to a broad range of working women.
  • Information on how women in community-based organizations focusing on women, women business owners, labor unions and others can access funds for green jobs.
  • Best practices related to women.
  • Green jobs that are in demand, new career paths and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The roundtable began with the reason we were all gathered at the event — where do women fit in the green industry? Though the number of green jobs is on the rise, there is indeed a disparity in the quality and quantity of jobs available to men and women. This spurred discussion on why this paradox exists.

One of the main issues women must face as we try to alter this uneven landscape is changing the perception that women can’t hold jobs in male-dominated industries. The math and science-related fields are typically over-represented by men, and changing this will be the first step in encouraging women to enter the green industry.

I left the roundtable discussion with a bright outlook. Green industry jobs vary; some are more technical than others; and there is always room for those who need to market the technology and spread the message to others. Bottom line — there is a huge opportunity for women to capitalize on the amazing benefits the green movement offers. So let’s get to it ladies!

www.chandlerchamber.com
www.builditgreenexpo.com
www.dol.gov/wb/

Greenbuild

Greenbuild 2009 Arrives In Phoenix

The time has come! Greenbuild 2009 has officially begun. For those unfamiliar with Greenbuild here’s some background information listed on the Web site for the event.

“Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Thousands of building professionals from all over the world come together at Greenbuild for three days of outstanding educational sessions, renowned speakers, green building tours, special seminars, and networking events.
Greenbuild 2009 is heading to the American Southwest, a region with unique environmental and social challenges and opportunities, and the imperative is clear: Green building can and must come home to all people, boosting the quality of life on main streets across the country and around the world. Join us at Greenbuild 2009 in Phoenix, Nov. 11-13, 2009 and engage in the conversation we must have to bring green to everyone, and bring everyone to green.”

Gov. Jan Brewer and Mayor Phil Gordon have proclaimed the week of Nov. 9-13 as U.S. Greenbuilding Council (USGBC) and Greenbuild International Week.  In separate statements, the governor and mayor cited the work of the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Greenbuilding Council (USGBC) in hosting the conference and expo as well as the mission of the USBGC which is to alter the built environment.

Greenbuild is bringing 25,000 people from 90 countries to Arizona to attend this exciting conference and expo. The expo will showcase more than 1,000 vendors while the conference will offer 125 educational sessions on various green topics taught by local and national industry leaders. Sometimes referred to as the “Super Bowl of building green” Greenbuild is bringing some famous faces to town. Former vice president Al Gore is this year’s opening keynote speaker and singer Sheryl Crow is set to perform at Chase Field as part of the Greenbuild Opening Keynote & Celebration.

In recognition of this significant event hitting the Valley, the Arizona Greenbuild Host Committee and the Arizona Chapter of the USGBC have organized outdoor activities, off site education programs and 18 tours that showcase the best of the sustainable built environment in Arizona.

Several events will also be going on in the Valley throughout the week. From Tempe to Flagstaff, the entire state will be bringing sustainability into the spotlight with fun festivals and events for the public.

www.greenbuildexpo.org

www.tempe.gov/events/greenstreet
www.greenstreetscottsdale.com
www.rooseveltrow.org/greenstreets.html
www.usgbcaz.org