Tag Archives: sustainability

Lori Singleton

Lori Singleton – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Lori Singleton – Manager of Sustainability Initiatives and Technologies, SRP

Singleton has been with SRP for 35 years and is responsible for developing and implementing solar and sustainability programs, and wireline and wireless telecom solutions for customers. Under her direction, SRP has provided incentives to more than 12,000 customers who have installed solar energy systems on their homes and businesses. She is also an active volunteer and effective advocate on the boards of Audubon of Arizona and the National Solar Energy Power Association.

Surprising fact: “I love to country dance.”

Biggest challenge: “Finding the right balance between work and family, particularly as a single mom. That said, my daughter is 25, finishing college and fondly remembers hanging out in mom’s office while she worked or tagging along for volunteer events.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

Diane Brossart - Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Diane Brossart – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Diane BrossartPresident and CEO, Arizona Forward

Brossart joined the nonprofit civic group — which aims to move Arizona forward environmentally, economically and socially — as a member 30 years ago. She was appointed to her leadership role in 1991, when Valley Forward focused exclusively on Maricopa County. Rebranded as Arizona Forward is 2012, its expanded statewide sustainability agenda includes: land use, transportation, air quality, energy, water and environmental education.

Surprising fact: “I believe my mother who passed away nearly 10 years ago lives as a rabbit in my backyard.”

Biggest challenge: “Taking Valley Forward statewide after 43 years as the Valley’s voice for balance. I’m bringing the best and brightest talent around Arizona together to help make the Grand Canyon State the greatest place in America to live.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

David Van Slyke

Mutual of Omaha Bank Announces Phoenix Appointment

David Van Slyke has joined Mutual of Omaha Bank as vice president of commercial banking in Phoenix. Based out of the bank’s Arizona headquarters at 9200 E. Pima Center Parkway in Scottsdale, Van Slyke will work with local businesses, offering comprehensive commercial banking services, including commercial deposit accounts, treasury services and full-scale commercial and industrial financing.

Van Slyke brings over 25 years of experience to Mutual of Omaha Bank, most recently serving as vice president with the business banking group for a large, national bank in Arizona.

Van Slyke earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance from Arizona State University. He holds a Certificate of Mastery for Business Process Reengineering and is a licensed pilot.

Van Slyke is involved in the community as an advisory board member for Steps of Faith, a non-profit women’s health organization in Phoenix. He also has served as a panel member for the Phoenix chapter of the American Institute of Architects, on the Membership Committee for Valley Partnership and teaches classes in the community on sustainability, urban farming and organic food.

Mutual of Omaha Bank is a full-service bank providing financial solutions to individuals and businesses across the United States. With nearly $6 billion in assets, Mutual of Omaha Bank is a subsidiary of Mutual of Omaha, a Fortune 500 insurance and financial services company founded in 1909. For more information about Mutual of Omaha Bank, visit www.mutualofomahabank.com.

Which Common Brands Are Most Sustainable?

As you do your shopping this holiday season, would it help to know exactly which toys, electronics, food and other items are better for the environment? A prominent researcher at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is helping to develop a system that will tell retailers, manufacturers, and eventually consumers, about the sustainability of many of the products we buy every day.

Professor Kevin Dooley is research director of The Sustainability Consortium, an impressive group administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas, featuring big-name-members, such as Unilever, BASF, MillerCoors, Mars and Walmart, with combined revenue of more than $1.5 trillion. The consortium is developing criteria that will allow you to easily identify which products are the most sustainable in their categories, based on factors like emissions, labor practices, water usage and waste creation. The consortium’s efforts were recently named among 10 “world-changing ideas” that are “radical enough to alter our lives” by Scientific American, and this year, the consortium’s work really vaulted forward.

“We have now established the critical issues and best areas in which to improve more than 100 types of the most common products — everything from electronics and toys, to food, drinks and personal care items,” says Dooley. “We’re helping businesses focus on the most important sustainability issues and giving them a way to measure and share their progress in making products better. This year, we were able to make rapid progress, thanks to the intense efforts of our staff and the stakeholders involved.”

In addition to big advances in creating these tools for companies to use, the consortium also finalized a huge partnership this year. The Consumer Goods Forum is a commercial trade organization with more than 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers and others as members worldwide. Working with this group will help the consortium to create a single global framework for sharing information between retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and consumers.

The consortium also announced expansion into China, thanks to a $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. The consortium will build relationships with Chinese manufacturers and retailers, exchanging information about best practices. It will also help implement a training program for Chinese factory managers and owners, utilizing regional knowledge about social and environmental issues. In other global efforts, the consortium hosted visits and events in Chile and Japan this year, and it’s strengthening ties with a university in Europe.

Dooley says making products more sustainable is getting even more important, as the number of middle-class consumers worldwide keeps growing. We’re creating and consuming more goods — using more energy and disposing of more waste in the process.

“It’s vital to show companies that sustainability and profits aren’t mutually exclusive,” says Dooley. “Investing in sustainability can actually help boost a firm’s bottom line. Sustainability efforts involve streamlining processes, using less energy and creating less packaging. All of this can help save both money and the environment.”

Dooley adds that 40 to 50 percent of environmental impacts can be traced to the life cycle of consumer products sold in retail stores. Therefore, making better choices about which products we buy and how those products are manufactured are truly significant. Dooley notes that some criteria developed by The Sustainability Consortium are already influencing major companies.

“For example, Walmart now requires all suppliers of laptop computers to ship those computers with energy-saving settings as the default,” says Dooley. “Other retailers are already using the consortium’s criteria to choose areas in which they can ask their suppliers to improve. Hopefully, we’re helping many companies consider more sustainability aspects when they’re selecting suppliers and drawing up contracts.”

Dooley teaches sustainability in the W. P. Carey School of Business’ supply chain management programs, consistently ranked Top 10 nationwide. He points out the pioneering way The Sustainability Consortium is integrating the efforts of members across academia, government, private companies and non-governmental organizations. The group is conducting practical research that can affect mainstream consumers around the world.

“The current focus of the consortium is to make the existing system of creating and using products as efficient as possible,” says Dooley. “As industry capabilities mature, we and others will also start looking at how we can consume less, reuse more, change products to services, and make items last longer overall.”

In 2013, the consortium will start working on criteria for clothing, footwear, textiles and many different durable goods like bicycles and hardware. To learn more about The Sustainability Consortium’s efforts, visit http://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/.

137593586

Ecova Takes Energy Savings to the Bank with National Bank of Arizona

Ecova, a total energy and sustainability management company, announced that National Bank of Arizona – a premier bank in Arizona with more than 70 branches – has successfully implemented a complete energy management program. National Bank of Arizona (NB|AZ) can now accurately and efficiently track energy consumption and cost data monthly and leverage that data to develop a comprehensive and proactive energy management strategy.

For years, NB|AZ tracked utility expenses as a single expense for each site, making it difficult to identify anomalies and track specific expenditures month-to-month or year-over-year to streamline budget forecasting and identify savings opportunities. NB|AZ recognized that it needed a way to access its data to understand its energy use in order to drive strategic energy savings and performance improvement.

NB|AZ engaged Ecova and implemented its Utility Expense and Data Management solution. This solution gathers usage and expenditure data from across the bank’s entire portfolio, turning that data into specific, strategic insight to help the bank increase opera­tional efficiency, reduce costs, and set sustainability performance standards.

“National Bank of Arizona faced a challenge that many companies are facing today – how can we improve our energy costs and increase our sustainability efforts? The simple answer is that you can’t improve what you don’t measure,” said Seth Nesbitt, VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Ecova. “Implementing a system to aggregate all energy consumption and expense information is the first step toward making a real impact on a company’s bottom line and sustainability efforts.”

Ecova started by gathering the prior years’ utility invoices for each loca­tion to create a baseline from which it could begin measuring performance. Ecova’s simple-to-navigate reporting interface allows the NB|AZ team to compare year-over-year data, providing visibility into consumption trends down to the specific meter level.

“Energy manage­ment has become more complex, and with that complexity comes opportunity. My ability to control rates might be limited, but I have unlimited opportunity to forecast, budget, and manage consumption thanks to the data that Ecova empowers us with,” said Dennis Calik, National Bank of Arizona, SVP and Corporate Properties Manager.

Ecova’s Utility Expense and Data Management solution has enabled NB|AZ to make wise energy savings and sustainability decisions. For example, when the bank was approached with an opportunity to install solar power panels at its corporate headquarters, analysis enabled by Ecova was a key to making the right deci­sion. NB|AZ says that with Ecova’s help, the team was able to identify how much energy the $1.5 million solar initiative would produce and determine how much of the cost would be covered by government rebate funding and tax credits.

“We were able to demonstrate to senior management that the majority of the cost would be mitigated by credits, tax breaks, and rebates,” says Calik. “Ecova’s data provided business intelligence to secure approval by demonstrating that the end-of-the-day price tag for the project would quickly pay for itself.”

Additional solar energy projects, lighting retrofits and upgrades to HVAC sys­tems followed quickly. Calik and team credit the Ecova reporting platform with providing the data to support these decisions, laying the foundation for what will become a comprehensive sustainability initiative.

valley partnership - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Valley Partnership Former Chairmen Discuss Phoenix Development – Part 1

Valley Partnership is celebrating 25 years as Metro Phoenix’s premier advocacy group for responsible development. In looking back – and also looking ahead – AZRE magazine brought together six former chairmen to discuss goals the group has successfully achieved and challenges that lie ahead.

With the commercial real estate industry making a slow recovery from the Great Recession, the advocacy role undertaken by a group such as Valley Partnership is magnified. “The surge in commercial real estate is evident,” says Richard Hubbard, president and CEO of Valley Partnership. “The comments from our past chairs provide great direction to Valley Partnership for the next several years. “With the increasing activity, it is imperative we re-energize our advocacy efforts with particular focus on the local communities while always monitoring our state and federal governments for any issue that affects our industry.” Participating were John Graham (JG), Sunbelt Holdings, chairman in 1989; Dave Scholl (DS), Westcor-Vintage Partners, chairman in 1990; Clesson Hill (CH), Grayhawk Development, chairman in 1997 and 1998; Jim Pederson (JP),  The Pederson Group, chairman in 1999; Pete Bolton (PB), CBRE/Grubb & Ellis (Newmark Grubb Knight Frank), chairman in 2004; and Charley Freericks (CF), DMB Associates, chairman in 2006. Rick Hearn (RH) of Vestar, the current chairman, served as moderator.

RH: During the past 25 years, has the level of economic development undertaken by local governments and the state been inadequate, adequate or exceptional?

PB: Frankly it’s all three. Over the years, it’s been inadequate, and it’s gone to adequate, and then I think in some cases it’s been exceptional. It also depends on which state we compare ourselves with because some states are exceptional and then some states are just barely adequate. And then you can go in the opposite direction, say inadequate, compared to Texas, and some of the other big ones across the country. Overall, we are doing a better job today.

CH: I would agree. I think there is lack of funding these days and I think that education has suffered greatly and that is a major infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt. Not just here but everywhere, and as we move forward and embrace new technology, it is a new way of life as we look toward the future.

DS: When I looked at this question, I really focused on the side of economic development and “are cities making investments?” I think that a lot of ways the cities have been trying to operate with their arm tied behind their backs. The constitution and our legislators have never really given our local government a whole lot of choices in their tool boxes. With the limited tools they have in there, they have done a pretty good job. I think that the industry I have been in has had a lot of city participation in economic development, and I think that they have been pretty aggressive about getting the most out of what limited tools the state’s constitutional statues have given.

RH: Charley, your company was impacted by this exact thing at Eastmark (in Mesa) in regard to Apple. What are your thoughts?

CF: Well it was not just Apple. It happened to us positively with First Solar. We were able to compete and win there. And with Apple, to be in the mix, I’m where Pete was. It is an evolution where economic development has come a long way since 1987. I had to think about 25 years, and I didn’t know I had been in the business that long. I look at what has happened now as the communication level of real prospects is very high and people know they’re coming and looking, which in the old days you would hear about it and it was here and gone. I’ve been in that side of the business almost my entire career chasing prospects from out of state. We come in second place to states that want to write checks. When we lose, we lose because somebody wrote a check and throws money at it to the prospect. I’ve never been a huge advocate at writing big checks. It’s a complicated business. I think we are doing a lot better chasing these deals and being in the running and again the tool kit is very limited.

JG: I’m actually optimistic about many things and this is actually one of them. My view is that being a young state one of the things that we did probably an amateurish job in early on was in economic development. I think that was a maturity problem not a “we didn’t quite get it problem.” With what we have now with GPEC and ACA and trying to address some of our structural and political and legislative problems, we got a really good pipeline of stuff that is being looked at and is being professionally handled.

JP: Certainly economic development depends on how you define it. A lot of people think that dangling a check in front of a major company is going to bring jobs into the state. But as Clesson mentioned, it’s more than that. It is infrastructure investment; it’s education and venture capital.

RH: Has Valley Partnership had a positive effect of creating a better image for developers?

Pete Bolton - AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

Pete Bolton

JP: There is a word that has been overused but I think that it is applicable. In this case, that is sustainability — the sustainability of our communities. It directly relates to our industry because we plunk down projects, neighborhoods or communities, and we depend upon a standard of living that is directly dependent on the rents that we get for our properties. During recession times, construction prices go down, land prices go down, but you have to achieve the rents if you are going to be successful at the end of the day. What Valley Partnership has done, by emphasizing how development relates to a sustainable lifestyle in the various communities where we live, is to look more beyond the block of where you are developing. It’s looking at your community, looking at your neighborhood. Looking at the various infrastructure investments that are critical to the kinds of things we do. We manufacture a product. And to manufacture the product, you need certain things, at least in the shopping center business. You need good tools. You need quality neighborhoods. You need good infrastructure investments. All of those things that directly relate to the level of rents we are going to get. In that regard I think Valley Partnership over the past 20 years has been excellent. I think it’s an organization that has emphasized the sustainability concept.

JG: I think the short answer is yes, that is has improved the reputation of how people view the development industry. The other part of that is the role that Valley Partnership will never go away because inherently we are in a conflict relationship with neighborhoods and other people. No matter how good of a job we did, it’s always going to be viewed that way. I think we have changed the conversation from one that was always in essence an adversarial, to at least everyone understanding that it is a two- or three-legged stool at a minimum, and that things have to be done by more than consensus. It has to be more by partnership and good conversation. That is why Valley Partnership will always have a role to the extent of how we want to have it because no matter how good a job we do, we will have different rubs with different constituency groups. But I think the role we need to continue to take is being the group that is not adversarial, rather constructive in those conversations for solutions.

CF: I was more optimistic on this one. My immediate reaction was absolutely that my focus was on the government. As an industry dealing with all of the city, town and county issues for regulations of our industries locally, I think Valley Partnership’s reputation really had a big impact because we have rational and moderate voices coming through consistently saying, “Gee, your regulation here is either irresponsible or maybe needs a little tune-up or maybe you missed a big idea here.” So from the professionals within our industry that we deal with, staff level government in particular, I think our reputation over the past 20 years has improved radically. I’m with the other guys here. The challenge we face will always be in conflict with residents and neighborhoods, and we need to keep doing our jobs well to keep doing that and not be controversial.

DS: I agree. I think that whenever you look at an image, you have to talk about which audience you are talking about. I think among consumers or neighborhood groups and homeowners, I don’t know if they have enough regular engagement to really understand who Valley Partnership is. I don’t know if the developers’ image among the average fellow on the street has improved that much. I agree with Charley. I think we are front of mind when a city or a local government says, “We need input, or we are thinking about changing this part of our code.” I think we are one of the first people they think of to come to the table and have the dialogue; whereas before Valley Partnership, it was a very splintered industry, and I don’t think there was a common voice and more importantly a common set of ears that listened to cities when they needed have that dialogue, too. So I think it has been vastly improved.

PB: What Valley Partnership has really accomplished with the local municipalities is to provide them with a dependable, educated voice. I remember sitting on a board and something would come up and a local municipality would ask, “Can you guys put something together on this billboard issue?”, and we would have six very educated voices at the table later that afternoon. That just doesn’t happen in any other organization. From my side of the business (brokerage), that has been extremely positive. As soon as we get the local municipalities on board, which they are, the neighborhoods rarely follow, but they don’t have much depth of voice anymore because if the politicos are truly believing the intelligent voices of the marketplace, they have a tendency to be more objective.

CH: I think part of the sustainability of 25 years of leadership is that Valley Partnership has been able to maintain frontline guys and women who are involved in development and kept them passionate about Valley Partnership. It has never faded away or lost its image in the cities to know that if we come, we will get quality people stepping up and get engaged and deliver some kind of end product. I think it’s a tribute to the leadership inside Valley Partnership to maintain that constant level of quality people.

Continue reading this article.

For more information on Valley Partnership, visit Valley Partnership’s website at valleypartnership.org.

AZRE Magazine May/June 2012

new species

ASU Announces Top 10 New Species

The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and a committee of scientists from around the world announced their picks for the top 10 new species described in 2011.

This is the fifth year for the top 10 new species list, which was released May 23, 2012, to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who was responsible for the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications. On this year’s top 10 new species list are a sneezing monkey, a beautiful but venomous jellyfish, an underworld worm and a fungus named for a popular TV cartoon character. The top 10 new species also include a night-blooming orchid, an ancient walking cactus creature and a tiny wasp. Rounding out this year’s list are a vibrant poppy, a giant millipede and a blue tarantula.

“The top 10 is intended to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis and the unsung species explorers and museums who continue a 250-year tradition of discovering and describing the millions of kinds of plants, animals and microbes with whom we share this planet,” said Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist who directs the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU.

Members of the international committee who made their selection from more than 200 nominations look for “species that capture our attention because they are unusual or because they have traits that are bizarre,” said Mary Liz Jameson, an associate professor at Wichita State University who chaired the international selection committee. “Some of the new species have interesting names; some highlight what little we really know about our planet,” she said.

Images and other information about the top 10 new species, including the explorers who made the discoveries and recorded them in calendar year 2011, are online at species.asu.edu. Also at the site is a Google world map that pinpoints the location for each of the top 10 new species. This year’s top 10 come from Brazil, Myanmar, the Dutch Caribbean, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, Spain, Borneo, Nepal, China and Tanzania.

Sneezing monkey: Since 2000, the number of mammals discovered each year averages about 36. So it was nothing to sneeze at when a new primate came to the attention of scientists conducting a gibbon survey in the high mountains of Myanmar (formerly Burma). Rhinopithecus strykeri, named in honor of Jon Stryker, president and founder of the Arcus Foundation, is the first snub-nosed monkey to be reported from Myanmar and is believed to be critically endangered. It is distinctive for its mostly black fur and white beard and for sneezing when it rains.

Bonaire banded box jelly: This strikingly beautiful yet venomous jellyfish looks like a box kite with colorful, long tails. The species name, Tamoya ohboya, was selected by a teacher as part of a citizen science project, assuming that people who are stung exclaim “Oh boy!”

Devil’s worm: Measuring about 0.5 millimeters (1/50 or 0.02 inches) these tiny nematodes are the deepest-living terrestrial multicellular organisms on the planet. They were discovered at a depth of 1.3 kilometers (8/10 mile) in a South African gold mine and given the name Halicephalobus mephisto in reference to the Faust legend of the devil because the new species is found at such a depth in the Earth’s crust and has survived immense underground pressure as well as high temperatures (37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). According to its discoverers, carbon dating indicated that the borehole water where this species lives had not been in contact with Earth’s atmosphere for the last 4,000 to 6,000 years.

Night-blooming orchid: A slender night stalker is one way to describe this rare orchid from Papua New Guinea whose flowers open around 10 at night and close early the next morning. It was described by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Leiden University, who named it Bulbophyllum nocturnum from the Latin word meaning “at night.” It is believed to be the first night-blooming orchid recorded among the more than 25,000 known species of orchids. Parasitic wasp: Ants beware! This new species of parasitic wasp cruises at just one centimeter (less than half an inch) above the ground in Madrid, Spain, in search of its target: ants. With a target in sight, the teensy wasp attacks from the air like a tiny dive bomber, depositing an egg in less than 1/20 of a second.

SpongeBob SquarePants mushroom: Named Spongiforma squarepantsii, after the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, this new fungus species looks more like a sponge than a typical mushroom. One of its characteristics is that its fruiting body can be squeezed like a sponge and bounce back to its normal size and shape. This fungus, which smells fruity, was discovered in forests on the island of Borneo in Malaysia.

Nepalese autumn poppy: This vibrant, tall, yellow poppy found in Nepal may have gone undescribed because of its high mountain habitat (10,827 to 13,780 feet). Named Meconopsis autumnalis for the autumn season when the plant flowers, there is evidence that this species was collected before but not recognized as new until intrepid botanists collecting plants miles from human habitation in heavy monsoon rains made the “rediscovery.”

Giant millipede: A giant millipede about the length of a sausage bears the common name “wandering leg sausage,” which also is at the root of its Latin name: Crurifarcimen vagans. The species holds a new record as the largest millipede (16 centimeters or about 6.3 inches) found in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains. The new species is about 1.5 centimeter (0.6 inch) in diameter with 56 more or less podous rings, or body segments bearing ambulatory limbs, each with two pairs of legs.

Walking cactus (lobopod fossil): Although this new species looks more like a “walking cactus” than an animal at first glance, Diania cactiformis belongs to an extinct group called the armoured Lobopodia, which had wormlike bodies and multiple pairs of legs. The fossil was discovered in Cambrian deposits about 520 million years old from southwestern China and is remarkable in its segmented legs that may indicate a common ancestry with arthropods, including insects and spiders.

Sazima’s tarantula: Breathtakingly beautiful, this iridescent hairy blue tarantula is the first new animal species from Brazil to be named on the top 10 list. Pterinopelma sazimai is not the first or only blue tarantula but truly spectacular and from “island” ecosystems on flattop mountains.

Why a top 10 new species list?

“The more species we discover, the more amazing the biosphere proves to be, and the better prepared we are to face whatever environmental challenges lie ahead,” said the institute’s Wheeler, who also is a professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability and its School of Life Sciences. “It is impossible to do justice to the species discoveries made each year by singling out just 10. Imagine being handed 18,000 newly published books packed with fantastic information and stories and before having the opportunity to read them, being asked to pick the best 10. With the help of an international committee of experts we do the best we can by picking those with flashy jackets, surprising titles and unexpected plot lines in an effort to draw attention to the whole lot.”

For more information about these new species, visit the International Institute for Species Exploration’s website at species.asu.edu.

climate leadership award - trophy

ASU Wins 2012 Climate Leadership Award

Arizona State University is one of two doctoral-granting academic institutions to receive a Climate Leadership Award from Second Nature and the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). Nearly 700 colleges and universities agreed to promote sustainability through teaching and action, thus forming the ACUPCC. Second Nature is the lead supporting organization of the ACUPCC.

This is the third year that Climate Leadership Awards were handed out, and ASU is one of 10 institutions to receive a 2012 award. Winners will be recognized during an award ceremony at the ACUPCC Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, DC June 21-22, 2012.

Climate Leadership Awards are bestowed to ACUPCC signatory schools that demonstrate unparalleled campus innovation and climate leadership that helps transition society to a clean, just and sustainable future. Second Nature’s board selected ASU from 20 competition finalists.

“These institutions have all shown tremendous creativity and an unrelenting commitment to integrate sustainable practices into their campuses and society as a whole,” said Dr. Anthony D. Cortese, president of Second Nature.

ASU was recognized last month in the ACUPCC’s Celebrating Sustainability Series in large part for solar-generation capacity. With more than 55 solar photovoltaic installations generating 15.3 megawatts across four campuses, approximately 30 percent of the university’s current peak daytime power needs are being met.

“As the number of our solar installations flourish, we continue to ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to promoting sustainability in our university operations,” said Ray Jensen, associate vice president of university business services and university sustainability operations officer at ASU. “Being named a climate leader by the ACUPCC is a great achievement and reflects our commitment to implement clean-energy across our four campuses.”

Grounding ASU’s sustainability operations are four fundamental pillars: carbon neutrality, zero waste, active engagement and principled practice. Actions ASU is taking to support its sustainability objectives include:

• The elimination of 90% of campus solid waste from the landfill by 2015. ASU has an ongoing relationship with Waste Management, Inc. and is co-creating a Roadmap to Zero Solid Waste.

• Alternative transportation choices include free intercampus shuttles, car-sharing options available by Zipcar®, and discounted-rate public transit passes on Phoenix on Valley Metro buses and the METRO light rail.

• Green-building practices are in effect across all four ASU campuses. The university is home to Arizona’s first LEED Platinum-certified building, and has 36 LEED Silver or better certified buildings.

Learn more about what ASU is doing to be sustainable at: http://sustainability.asu.edu/practice/what-asu-is-doing/index.php

More information about the 2012 Climate Leadership Award winners can be found at: www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.

Algae Industry

Could The Algae Industry Become Arizona’s No. 1 Industry?

Arizona would benefit from a strong new industry that provided more revenue than housing or hospitality, more fascination than sports, more food than agribusiness currently produces and more energy than has been produced in the history of the state. It would be nice too if the industry aligned with the current focus on biosciences. The industry should also employ engineers and scientists and other high salary professionals.

Arizona needs a new industry with a strong competitive advantage and a business model that is sustainable. Sustainability requires a green industry that is minimally consumptive―requiring little land, water or other resources. A sustainable industry should provide more energy than it consumes and provide a positive ecological footprint.
The business model should strengthen with growth and demonstrate a vitality and versatility to support a variety of niches. The industry should also integrate with the high technology associated with Arizona’s $600 million investment in genomics, medical information systems and biosciences.

The new algae industry might be called the “Green Gold Rush.” The analogy has validity because the attraction to gold mining is finding a free resource at one’s feet. Similarly, algae production takes nearly free resources: sunshine, waste water and desert and creates high value foods, fuels, nutraceuticals and medicines.

Declining industries

Arizona’s economy flourished for decades with the 4C’s: cattle, citrus, cotton and copper. More recently, electronics and semiconductors were added to the economy mix. However, resource constraints and global competition have taken a toll and key Arizona industries have been diminishing in employment, revenues and prospects.

Arizona’s migration from historical industries to new industries has occurred for a variety of reasons. Water availability, land and costs limit agribusiness. Heavy irrigation requirements, often three acre-feet, 36 inches, per crop, drive up costs. Many farmers must also pay for the energy to pump water from surface sources or most often from underground aquifers. Aquifer levels are declining requiring bigger pipes and stronger pumps. Heavy irrigation also imparts salts to the soil which reduces crop vitality.

The severe summer heat makes some crops impractical to grow and others develop poisonous toxins such as aflatoxin due to the heat. Population growth has consumed the prime farmland in and around cities which has benefiting the housing industry but damaged agribusiness. As communities expand, outlying land becomes increasingly more expensive as speculators take options on development.

New farmland becomes increasingly expensive as infrastructure such as laser leveling, pipelines and irrigation systems must be put in place in remote locations. New farmland tends to be more costly yet less productive than already developed land. Consequently, agribusiness becomes a continually less attractive investment. Currently, business models show that even gifted new land may not be profitable for agriculture due to the increasing capital costs necessary to manage a farm.

Many of Arizona’s agricultural products that historically had high value have become commodities. Early or late season crops that were possible to grow only in Arizona due to early spring warmth and late fall sunshine gave growers a competitive advantage. Now, many fruits and vegetables are imported year-round.

Copper, electronics and semi-conductors have felt the impact of global competition and especially cheap foreign labor, Figure 1. While each industry will continue in Arizona, the scale will reduce along with revenues and employment.

Figure 1. Arizona’s Old and New Industries

Algae Industry

Unfortunately, some Arizona industries have not been sustainable because key resources were insufficient to sustain the industries. Arizona’s strategic resource is water.

Water strategy

Water availability and use hold the key to Arizona’s future. Failing sufficient clean water, Arizona cannot sustain its valuable tourism industry, industrial businesses or growing population. Only three sources of water are available:

1.    Surface water – from the seven reservoirs and the Colorado River water that flows through the CAP aqueduct
2.     Groundwater – from underground aquifers
3.    Reuse water – from wastewater treatment plants

Surface and groundwater are largely committed under contract to existing users. Therefore, a new industry must be water efficient and able to use wastewater or grey, partially purified water.

Algae have the capacity to become a critical part of Arizona’s water strategy as algae can thrive in most kinds of wastewater such as city sewer water, industrially polluted water with heavy metal such as mining or even saline water. In addition to growing in mucky water, algae can be used to clean wastewater for reuse by citizens, industry or agriculture.
Agriculture cannot use saline water because the salt kills land plants by blocking water absorption from the roots. Algae have no root structures and some strains simply absorb water pollutants. Those pollutants can be separated from the algae during processing. The clean water has value and the metals can be collected and resold for reuse in industry.
Algae are robust, water-based plants that grow at an extremely high rate, often doubling or tripling their biomass in a single day. They need only sunshine, warm temperatures, impure water and modest nutrients to flourish. Algae grow so fast in commercial production that biomass harvest occurs daily or even continuously. Once the green biomass is removed from the water, the water and remaining nutrients may be recycled in a continuous growing loop.

CO2 conversion

Algae grow biomass quickly in a wide variety of conditions. Plants use the sun’s energy through photosynthesis to convert sunlight into chemical energy. They convert inorganic substances such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and other nutrients into organic matter such as green or blue-green biomass.

Algae feed on the greenhouse gas, CO2, and convert it to simple plant sugars and lots of O2, Figure 2. Water stores little dissolved CO2 naturally so cultivated algae need added CO2 for food. Photosynthesis takes in CO2, nutrients and water and produces the algae biomass with proteins, carbohydrates and lipids (oils). The process releases considerable oxygen to the atmosphere.

Figure 2. Algae Takes in CO2 and Produces O2

Algae Industry

Even though algae represent only 0.5% of total global biomass by weight, algae produce about 40% of the net global production of oxygen on earth – approximately equal to all the forests and fields combined.Algae, often called microscopic phytoplankton, grow in most bodies of water and provide the foundation for nearly all marine food chains. Subtract algae and phytoplankton from the water column and fish, shellfish and other aquatic creatures cannot survive.

The Arizona algae industry has extraordinary potential worth billions of dollars because with advanced technologies, algae can produce a wide variety of high-value foods, medicines, nutraceuticals and biofuels as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Algae Products and Use

Algae Industry

The lipids can be removed and made into biofuels such as jet fuel, JP-8. The remaining starches and proteins can be made into a limitless variety of human and animal foods and other coproducts. Since there are over 30,000 known algae strains and probably several million in nature the product and coproduct possibilities for this biomass are nearly limitless.

The harvested algae are extremely malleable in the sense that they can be stored in the same form as corn, wheat, rice or soy products. These include protein-rich milk, soft mash of any size, shape or texture, tortilla, cracker or flour. They can be made into texturized vegetable protein with added fiber or extruded to make additives for meats that improve moisture retention and increase protein while lowering fats.

Processing can match the form of nearly any food such as peanuts, pesto or protein bars. Fortunately, years of food processing for land-based plants that have an unappealing natural taste such as soybeans make it easy to add flavors, textures (fibers) and aromas.
Algae are currently used in hundreds of products such as beer, gum, cosmetics, nutraceuticals and medicines. Newly discovered or genetically engineered strains hold potential for mass production of vaccines, vitamins and other high-value nutrients.

Arizona’s advantage

Arizona stands alone in competitive advantage for algae production. No other state offers the unique combination of sunshine, warm weather with few frosts and low-cost flat, non-cropland. Arizona even has numerous saline aquifers with water that cannot support agriculture. Compared with cattle as a protein source, for example, algae need less than 0.001 the land and water.

Iowa won the non-sustainable corn ethanol sweepstakes and Iowa benefits from all the subsidies for corn and ethanol refining. Government subsidies for ethanol in Iowa amount to $640 for each citizen due to the “Presidential Caucus Effect.” Every presidential campaign begins in Iowa and every candidate supports larger corn ethanol subsidies.

However, the industry is not sustainable because Sierra Club calculates that the 44 new Iowa ethanol refineries will crash Iowa’s freshwater aquifers. An average ethanol refinery uses the water equivalent of about 5,000 households. In addition, 326,000 acres in Western Iowa use irrigated corn for ethanol, further depleting their groundwater. Irrigated corn requires about three acre-feet of water which translates to about 3,000 gallons of water to produce each gallon of ethanol. Several cities in Iowa also have found their groundwater contaminated and undrinkable due to Nitrites from cornfield fertilizer run-off.

Many states can grow corn but only a few can grow algae productively without the prohibitive costs of controlled environment buildings. Algae can be grown anywhere but are far less productive in many climates as they stop growing on cloudy days. The biomass also grows more slowly with cooler temperatures. Sustainable commercially scaled cultivation requires the climate and terrain associated specifically with Arizona and parts of Southern California. Other locates in the U.S. south may build production systems that produce only in the summer similar to existing land crops.

Algae are sustainable because growth requires only a tiny fraction of the inputs – energy, water, land, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides required for land-based plants like corn, citrus, cotton or cattle. The industry is ecologically positive because algae can take flue gasses from coal-fired power plants and sequester the CO2; use the excess heat for growth while producing tons of O2. Algae can remediate the nitrogen and other pollution from agriculture in groundwater and wastewater. Algae production is ecologically positive because it has minimal input needs and no waste products are produced to leach into the soil or fill waste dumps.

Arizona State University also offers a competitive advantage in the knowledge workers needed for the algae industry with excellent engineering and business schools and the only Laboratory for Algae and Biotechnology in the U.S.

Growth

Algae grow high-value biomass at speeds 30 to 100 times faster than land plants for one reason: they do not waste energy on structures like trunks, roots and leaves. Land plants have to withstand all the forces of nature – wind, weather and predators. Algae are water plants that are supported by the water in situ, in which they grow. For algae, it’s like being in a womb; all support systems are local and focus on growth and development.

In nature, algae’s greatest strength acts as a weakness. Fast growth shades new and prior plants from sun light. The underlying plants are shaded or receive too little light for photosynthesis and die. Cultivated algae require constant mixing to enable all the cells sufficient access to light.

Another unusual strength works against algae in natural habitats. The high protein composition, often around 50% of the biomass, means the plant begins breaking down faster than shrimp – which for practical purposes means immediately. Cultivated algae harvest occurs daily but algae in natural settings begin to rot quickly and give off the associated gasses and fragrances.

Consequently, people tend to think of algae based on its natural settings where it often presents itself as smelly green slime. In contrast, cultivated algae give off rich O2 which smells similar to walking through a redwood forest (without the trees).

Algae are infamous for causing problems in public waterways and in personal pools, ponds, pots and aquariums. Algae’s tolerance for a wide range of growing conditions means it demonstrates its resilience and fast growth in any moist or wet area that gets sunlight. As a result, algae research has focused nearly 10:1 on trying to kill, control or remove the productive green biomass versus cultivation. As a consequence, our survey research indicates 98% of people view algae as a pest.

Biomass production

Cultivated algae grow quickly and display continuous growth in sunshine where the biomass may double or triple daily. Algae slow their growth on cloudy days and go into respiration at night.

Algae grow similar to other plants and grow faster with increasing sun or heat. Algae grow within the boundaries of the “law of the minimum.”

Algae Industry

Figure 4. Arizona State University Polytechnic Laboratory for Algae Research and Biotechnology, LARB

The plant grows quickly to the maximum it can until it hits a mineral, chemical, nutrient, light or temperature limitation. When the last of the limiting nutrient is absorbed, N for example, the plant stops growing until more of the minimum constraint becomes available.

The challenge for algae cultivation becomes insuring that sufficient nutrients are continuously available to the fast growing plant.

Algae differ widely in the levels of chemical, light and temperature parameters that limit their growth. For example, some algae flourish in low pH water (high acid) while others prefer high pH. Laboratory analysis can determine the concentrations of major nutrients and other growing parameters. Nutrient concentration ratios such as N/P can predict which algae strains should predominate under stable resource conditions.

Biomass composition varies by variety but may be 60:30, oil to foods, with about 10% waste. Therefore, it offers a solution to both fuel and food. The biomass is demoistured and stored in a convenient form such as a cake. The biomass does not require refrigeration and has a two-year self-life.

Algae are clean and healthy. The natural product has a hint of the fresh green smell of alfalfa and a soft organic taste. Several newly discovered varieties are odorless and tasteless and take on the smell and taste of the food they accompany.

Algae cultivation typically occurs in tanks or ponds, so no soil tilling, heavy equipment or pesticides and herbicides are required, although light tractors are common. Algae grow all over the Earth, so its range substantially exceeds corn. However, cultivated algae grow best in sunny, warm regions. Algae can grow where other crops cannot grow, such as deserts, mountains and rooftops.

Productivity

Algae do not have the cellulosic trunk, tassel, leaves, roots and cob – the structural overhead – necessary for land plants like corn to withstand the land environment. Algae invest their growth energy in creating oils and proteins with light carbohydrates for the cell walls. An algae strain with 60% oils produces over 55% net oils that can be made into liquid fuel like high-powered jet fuel or biodiesel.

Biodiesels are typically about 33% more energy producing per unit than gasoline. In contrast, corn produces 98% non-energy producing cellulosic biomass called stover and yields less than 2% energy biomass. Most of the plant is waste in an energy sense and the stalks are left in the field. The corn energy biomass can be converted into a low-powered fuel that has only 64% the energy per unit as gasoline.

Some power companies such as Arizona Public Service have turned their problem with CO2 emissions into an opportunity. The Redhawk 1,040 megawatt power plant recycles greenhouse gases into renewable biofuels and uses algae to capture the CO2 gas emissions. The power plant exhaust is routed through algae growing systems and can eliminate part of their CO2 emissions during the day. Power plants run 24/7, so this presents only a partial solution.

Some power plants also use waste heat from power generation in the growing systems that increase the velocity of biomass growth. The only company supplying these systems currently, Greenfuels Technologies, associated with MIT, claims that using algae-fed CO2 and warm water from the power plant could potentially create annual yields of 8,000 gallons of biodiesel plus about 8,000 gallons of ethanol per acre. These production levels may be theoretically possible but are well beyond any current operational systems.
However, some power plants are operating their biofactories at a profit on a stand-alone basis. Reducing emissions may earn the power plants CO2 emissions credits and tax credits.

Compared with corn, algae offer substantial productivity, ecologic and economic advantages as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Algae Advantages Compared with Corn

Algae Industry

Challenges

Unfortunately, R&D on algae has taken a hiatus since 1995 when the U.S. Department of Energy decided to close down the Aquatic Species Project and algae research to focus on the politically expedient biofuel – corn ethanol. Since then, the majority government biofuels funding and subsidies has gone to support corn ethanol and ignored other renewable fuel sources.

The most pressing challenge lies in scaling up algae biofactories for continuous commercial production. Sparse R&D means the favored technologies have not been tested on a large scale. Fortunately, much of the necessary production knowledge comes from hydroponics and aquaculture where R&D has moved those technologies forward.
The challenges presented by algae production are nontrivial. Commercial biofactories producing the health food Spirulina currently operate in California, Hawaii, South Africa, Japan, India, Thailand and China where algae products are used for food. Focused R&D can have scaled algae production systems operating in Arizona within several years.

Algae industry: A new Arizona industry?

An algae industry would employ primarily high-technology knowledge workers because the business models substitute advanced technologies for labor, similar to wind turbines or solar collectors. Research in progress at ASU Polytechnic is examining ways to combine solar collectors and algae production. Quite possibly, the same land footprint could support wind turbines in the right location.

Early entrants to the algae industry will employ numerous engineers and scientists to solve the fascinating technical challenges for large scale production. For example, algae production business models often include labs for selecting productive strains and monitoring strain vitality and quality in the growing systems. Fortunately, Arizona is blessed with many capable technical brains who are no longer employed in electronics and semiconductors.

The algae industry is unlikely to match the 12,000 jobs created in the existing Arizona bioscience industry. Algae production will use relatively few high-tech managers orchestrating largely automated growing and harvesting systems. Food, fuel and coproduct manufacture and refining will employ a substantial number of people. Salaries will probably be around the current bioscience levels, averaging about $50,000.

The revenue generated from an algae industry could exceed the other bioscience niches. It is too early to predict which algae products will produce the most revenue but several appear very promising, including:

Liquefied energy – biodiesel, jet fuel, ethanol or methanol
Foods – high protein replacement for grains such as wheat, corn and soybeans
Health foods – Spirulina, vitamins, special nutrients
Medicines – nutraceuticals, vaccines and high-value medicines

The algae industry business models are very attractive because with relatively modest investments, high value products are possible that can be sold for substantial profits. However, Arizona has seen failed attempts before at building industries around new crops such as guayule, a weed that can be made into a rubber product, and jojoba, a bean than produces oil. Similarly, early attempts at new growing systems such as hydroponics never lived up to their hype.

Algae businesses will have to prove their ability to scale-up to commercial production levels and also show they can sustain high production to take advantage of Arizona’s 360 days of sunshine. The initial cultivated algae production systems will need to be a public and private partnerships to share the risks associated with early R&D.

The combination of biofuels, foods, nutraceuticals and medicines all delivered from a renewable resource that is ecologically positive means Arizona can look forward to a strong new industry. Some may call this the green gold rush because the products and coproducts offer such high value.

The path to build this exciting and high value industry begins with a first step: focused R&D on sustainable scaled algae production systems.

Mark R. Edwards has taught food marketing and entrepreneurship in the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness at Arizona State University Polytechnic for more than 30 years. This article is derived from his recent book “Biowar I: Why Battles over Food and Fuel Lead to World Hunger.” Biowar I algae as a case study to illustrate the foolish waste associated with the corn ethanol industry.
New York Giants

The New York Giants: The Giant's History

Credited with introducing the city of New York to football, the New York Giants have a history that is nearly as big as the team’s name.

Wellington Mara, at only the age of 14, along with his 21-year old brother Jack, took ownership of the five-year-old team in 1930 only to become the world’s youngest football team owner. Their father Tim Mara was the first owner who bought the team for a reported $500.

One of the first notable games, dubbed the “Sneakers Game,” was in 1934 where the Giants beat the Chicago Bears 30-13. The game was played in nine-degree weather, and the players were given basketball shoes to increase traction on the icy field.

Six years later, World War II comes and brings along with it many challenges for most National Football League teams. Losing many players to military service, many teams had to take desperate measures to keep the sport alive, including merging two different teams into one. The Giants, however — as their name implies — were bigger than these challenges and managed to not only survive through the War years, but also make it to three NFL championship games.

The next decade, the 1950’s, looked even more promising for the Giants as they recruited Tom Landry, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and a few other players who would redefine the team, the NFL and football at large. Coached by Hall of Famers, these and other players also landed Hall of Fame recognition for their performance for the Giants.

Gifford, who played for the team from 1952 to 1964, holds the Giants team record of 788 touchdowns. He played in seven Pro Bowls and was named All-NFL four times. In 1953 and for the first (and only) time in the NFL, he was named to the Pro Bowl as both a defensive back and an offensive back in the following year. During his career, the Giants caught up to the NFL Championship five times and won the world championship in 1956.

The team lost many of their key players in the 1960’s, a decade that marked a turning point for the Giants. A series of repeated injuries and retirements left the team weary and uncertain through the decade and well into the 1970’s. During the ’70s, the Giants finished in last place or next-to-last eight times. This long history of losing, however, ended in 1986 with the team’s first appearance on the Super Bowl since 1956.

Four years later, the dramatic 20-19 score won the Giants their second Super Bowl over the Buffalo Bills, and three years later, in 1993, the team now had a co-owner, after 60 years of sole ownership by the Mara Family. The co-owner, Preston Robert Tisch, was a native of New York City and a lifelong fan.

Dan Reeves, hired in 1993 as head coach, brought back the Giants to the Super Bowl. The 1990’s started the team’s yet existing success with the NFL’s most promising coaches, like Jim Fassel, and the Pro Bowl players, like Eli Manning.

The Giants continue to keep Americans on their toes with their more recent Super Bowl Victory last weekend. The team scored 9 points in the first quarter, none in the second and 6 points in each of the third and fourth quarters, leaving them only four points ahead of the defeated New England Patriots.

To see who the Giants will be playing against and where, see the Spring Training Schedule. 

Photo: Dru Bloomfield - At Home in Scottsdale, Flickr

Scottsdale’s Annual Green Building Lecture Series Scheduled for September

Green Building Lecture: Scottsdale’s Annual Green Building Lecture Series will be back in full swing come September first.

The Green Building Lecture Series is free and open to the public, and address sustainability issues such as environmentally responsible and healthy building practices and energy efficiency.

This will be the 12th lecture series event about green building hosted by Scottsdale in order to inform and educate building owners, developers and builders, and design professionals on sustainability practices.

The lectures are held on the first Thursday of every month from September 2011 to June 21012, excluding January, with the first lecture for the 2011-2012 year titled “What Happens When Green Becomes Code?”

The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) was recently adopted by the Scottsdale City Council and is the core of the city’s Commercial Green Building Program. The lecture in September will educate the public on IgCC and how it will make “going green” easier to obtain for developers of multi-family and commercial housing.

Other lectures in the series will include topics on reusing rainwater, cooling and heating options for the home, green projects around the Valley and water saving techniques.

The Green Building Lecture Series will feature practitioners and experts speaking on the green topics each month to address key issues pertaining to sustainability and going green.

The monthly events will take place at the Granite Reef Senior Center in Scottsdale, from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

[stextbox id=”grey”]If You Go:
Green Building Lecture Series
Granite Reef Senior Center
1700 N. Granite Reef Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
www.scottsdaleaz.gov[/stextbox]

Phoenix Convention Center, GoGreen Conference 2011

GoGreen Conference Comes to Phoenix, Educating Business Leaders with Sustainability

Deciding to make your business more sustainable can be a challenging task, especially when profitability is in question. Luckily, Phoenix will be hosting its first GoGreen Conference come Nov. 15 at the Phoenix Convention Center, where business leaders and owners will have a chance to be inspired and educated on sustainable business practices.

The GoGreen Conference is a one-day sustainability event for business owners and leaders. This event program addresses key issues pertaining to sustainability, and gives businesses and organizations a chance to learn how to take these tools and use them in their business practices, according to Ericka Dickey-Nelson, founder of GoGreen Conference and president of Social Enterprises, Inc.

The conferences have been taking place for the last four years, with a goal to educate business leaders with the most recent sustainability practices, and in turn, to put their businesses on a sustainable path.

Derrick Hall, President/CEO Diamondbacks, GoGreen Speaker, Photo: Brian FiskeThe event works with all types of businesses, and each previously held event has been sold out, with each conference educating 600-1,000 attendees.

Some of Arizona’s most successful business leaders working in sustainability will be speaking at the GoGreen Conference, as well as promoting some of the best business practices and tactics to achieve sustainability.

Derrick Hall, president and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has been chosen to be a keynote speaker for the event in Phoenix.

“It’s a challenging task to pick a keynote,” Dickey-Nelson says. “Keynotes are a big deal, and we have to choose the ones that are the best. We chose him because of the industry he is in.”

Hall is known for his green tactics, which include the new solar shade outside the Chase Field that generates solar energy for the stadium.

Of course, there have been challenges in promoting sustainability practices and the GoGreen Conference in this improving, yet rocky economy.

“I think the most important thing is relating sustainability practices to businesses,” Dickey-Nelson says. “It deals with money, and we make sure in every session we address profitability and long-term saving.”

The conference has plans for business leaders and owners to leave with an idea of how to successfully change their business practices.

“We want to make your business more sustainable,” Dickey-Nelson says. “We want you to walk away with a tool chest of strategies.”

[stextbox id=”grey”]

If You Go:

GoGreen Conference ’11 Phoenix:
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011
8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Phoenix Convention Center, West Building
www.phoenix.gogreenconference.net[/stextbox]

Otis Elevator 2011

Otis Elevator Company Shows The Way To Green

Otis Elevator Company, a unit of United Technologies Corporation, launched a major global environmental program Feb. 8th called The Way to Green. The program is designed to extend to every aspect of their business — from design and manufacturing to products and end-of-life recycling.

The Way to Green is designed to significantly boost the companies’ commitment to environmental protection and sustainability while reducing energy consumption and offering the finest performance.

By introducing this program, the company will encourage environmental awareness to 60,000 of its employees, customers, suppliers and business partners making them aware of environmentally sensitive practices.

Eiffel Tower Otis blog 2011, Flickr, Moonlightbulb

They are the world’s largest manufacturer and maintainer of people-moving products — including elevators, escalators and moving walkways. More than 200 countries use Otis Elevator Company and over 1.7 million elevators and escalators are being maintained worldwide.

If you have never heard of them, think about the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building; the Eiffel Tower; the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Los Angeles International Airport. All of these places have elevators installed by this company.

Products:

The line of Gen2 elevator systems feature regenerative drives that reduce energy consumption by up to 75 percent compared to conventional systems.

The Gen2-coated steel belts and machines require no additional lubrication, and LED illumination is standard, lasting up to 10 times longer than conventional fluorescent lamps. An automatic switch-off mode saves up to 80 percent wasted energy.

Otis escalators and moving walkways reduce energy consumption by up to 60 percent, an efficient, automatic lubrication system reduces annual oil usage by up to 98 percent versus conventional systems, and LED lighting options are up to 30 percent more energy efficient.

Manufacturing:

Otis implements processes that recycle 97 percent of industrial waste produced by Otis facilities.

water otis blog 2011, Flickr, Snap

The manufacturing facility in Madrid uses solar panels to generate about 60 percent of the site’s energy needs.

The TEDA Manufacturing Center in China has achieved Gold-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Advanced technologies in use at this location reduce energy usage by at least 25 percent compared to conventional design and manufacturing methods.

Otis facilities have reduced water consumption by 12 percent by optimizing conservations through rainfall collection, recycling and the use of water-efficient fixtures.

More than 200,000 Gen2 elevator systems — covering a wide range of applications — have been sold to date, making it the fastest selling product in Otis company history. The Way to Green has taken “going green” to a whole new level.

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Lori Singleton ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Lori Singleton, Salt River Project (SRP)

Lori Singleton, SRP

Lori Singleton is the manager of sustainability initiatives and technologies at Salt River Project. She is a 29-year employee of SRP and 40-year resident of Arizona. She is responsible for design and implementation of SRP’s environmental outreach programs with special focus on renewable energy.

Lori’s responsibilities at SRP include development and implementation of renewable energy projects to meet SRP’s sustainable resource goals. Singleton oversees research and development projects to support company-wide initiatives for SRP including gasoline lawn mower recycling, tree planting, clean school bus initiative, travel reduction and other internal environmental programs.

She works on development and implementation of the “green” energy pricing program, solar incentive program for residential and commercial customers and renewable energy education programs for implementation in middle school and high school curricula.

In addition, she does promotion and public relations for all new renewable energy projects and purchases (solar, wind, geothermal, landfill gas, low head hydro, fuel cells) while serving as the environmental issues media spokesperson for SRP and being a constant representative of SRP on numerous environmental committees, boards and commissions.

She was appointed by Governor Janet Napolitano to serve on the Solar Energy Advisory Council and also has several other current affiliations including: Valley Forward Association, Board of Directors; Audubon Society, chair, Board of Directors; Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force, chair; Association for Commuter Transportation, Valley of the Sun, President & National Board Director; Southwest Center for Education; and the Natural Environment (ASU), Board of Directors.

Current Affiliations

Solar Energy Advisory Council, appointment by Governor Janet Napolitano
Valley Forward Association, Board of Directors
Audubon Society, Chair, Board of Directors
Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force, Chair
Association for Commuter Transportation, Valley of the Sun, President &
National Board Director
Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment (ASU), Board of
Directors

Affiliations (Past)

Valley Forward Association, Chair, Board of Directors
Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force
City of Phoenix, Environmental Quality Commission
Valley Metro, Clean Air Advisory Committee
Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Committee
Valley of the Sun United Way Loaned Executive


Topic: How people & organizations can get involved in the green movement from an energy perspective.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Room 157

BIG Green Conference 2011


 

BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



 

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Mark Roddy ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Mark Roddy, SmithGroup

Mark Roddy, SmithGroup

Mark Roddy, AIA, a design principal and lead designer for the Phoenix office of SmithGroup’s Office Workplace Studio, has over 18 years in the architectural field.

Mark received his bachelor degree from the University of Arizona in 1991 and a Masters in Architecture from UCLA in 1996. He has taught architecture design at the University of Arizona, Montana State University and Arizona State University.

His expertise produces civic/municipal spaces that respond to the surrounding community and its culture, while his office/workplace designs are efficient without sacrificing environmental responsiveness. This is most evident in the recently completed Chandler City Hall that is tracking LEED Gold Certification. This commitment to sustainability is also demonstrated in the “green” addition to his historic home in Central Phoenix that has won numerous awards including a Crescordia from Valley Forward. Mark’s work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally.

He believes architecture should be expressive and environmentally responsible, but above all it should seek and find a balance between beauty and function.


Topic: Sustainable Office Design, Two Case Studies in Regional Office Design: Strategies and benefits of sustainable office building design, focusing on three main topics — regional design-buildings, performance strategies and employer & employee benefits.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Room 155

BIG Green Conference 2011


BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



Sponsors:

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Kevin Woodhurst ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Kevin Woodhurst, Dolphin Pools and Spas

Kevin Woodhurst, Dolphin Pools & Spas

Kevin Woodhurst has been building and promoting energy efficient pools since 1996.

The companies that he has owned or worked with utilize the latest technologies and standards in order to deliver consumer and environmentally projects that save or conserve natural resources. Kevin has been a student to the pool industry for many years and as such has held or holds more certifications than nearly anyone in the country.

In Kevin’s words he says, “It is still not enough, you must go out every day and try to be better and learn something new”. Kevin is a well known industry expert and participates nationally and internationally in many industry forums.

He has won multiple local, state and national awards but still enjoys the smile on the face of a satisfied client more than anything.


Topic: Energy-Efficient Pools

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Room 155

BIG Green Conference 2011

 


BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



Sponsors:

Green Law - Valley Forward’s Goals Are Important To Dan Litteral’s Company, Apollo Group

Valley Forward’s Goals Are Important To Dan Litteral’s Company, Apollo Group

Dan Litteral
Vice President/Legal & Associate General Counsel
Apollo Group/University of Phoenix

Dan Litteral has been in higher education and has practiced regulatory law for more than 20 years, and that experience has enhanced his involvement with Valley Forward.

Litteral joined Valley Forward in 2007 through Apollo Group and the University of Phoenix, which have both been longstanding members and supporters of the organization.

“It became apparent to me that Valley Forward was an almost uniquely positioned organization for a metropolitan area that was really committed to public dialogue between organizations and civic leaders,  to promote environmentally sensible development,” Litteral says.

Before working for the University of Phoenix and Apollo Group, Litteral spent 20 years practicing law in the Washington D.C., area. He helped build the in-house legal department at the University of Phoenix and was University of Phoenix general counsel from 2003-2007. Litteral then was moved up to the Apollo Group where he currently runs a practice group for Apollo that provides education and regulatory law services.

Litteral says Valley Forward is staying fresh and relevant, and is important to Apollo Group because it has aligned goals. Apollo Group has focused on sustainability and appropriate environmental usages.

Since 2008, Litteral has sat on the Valley Forward board of directors and executive committee. He was also chair of Valley Forward’s Earthfest Educators Night, an annual event that invites between 300 and 500 teachers from around the Valley to learn about environmental education so they can share the information with their students.

Litteral wants to see a focus on continued relevance from Valley Forward. He says that as the economy turns around and the organization grows, it is important to improve the issues that revolve around sustainability.

“Valley Forward clearly wants to be the environmental go-to organization in the Valley in terms of balancing the need for growth, development an stability,” Litteral says. “By undertaking events and continuing to engage leaders in corporations and the business world, it will fulfill that mission.”

Valley Forward works with organizations such as Apollo Group to educate the community and businesses on how to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. Valley Forward provides an opportunity for public dialogue of discussing how to move forward with environmental considerations.

“Valley Forward has a long track record of making the Valley a good place to live and work, while understanding we need to continue to develop and grow, and to do so in an environmentally friendly way,” Litteral says.

Electric Vehicle were a big hit in 2010 in Arizona

Arizona’s “Green” Future Was Founded In 2010

2010 will probably be remembered more for the challenges it brought than the successes it yielded in our Valley and state. But out of the darkness came some light, and the illumination casts hope for a bright future.

Countless volunteers gave generously of their time, talent and treasury to support green initiatives in our region despite a challenging economy. Their efforts are evident in a range of projects that contribute to the sustainability of our unique desert environment. And their commitment will make our communities stronger, more vibrant places.

Working together, they’re a testament to the power of collaboration representing companies both large and small, government entities, educators, non-profits and concerned citizens. Their individual successes are our collective treasures:

We’re one of five states selected to deploy “smart” charging stations as part of an electric vehicle program by ECOtality and the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of charging stations in Phoenix and Tucson will create more green jobs, less pollution and a reduction on foreign oil dependency.

Daily ridership on our 20-mile light rail system exceeded expectations by an average of 58 percent, and a new Adopt-A-Station program promotes use of public transportation. In addition, the city of Phoenix in partnership with ASU, APS and other sponsors received $25 million in stimulus funds to build the Green Rail Corridor Demonstration Project to showcase ways to reduce energy usage and carbon emissions.

The Center for Teacher Success was officially launched to improve the academic achievement of Arizona students by elevating the professional performance of their teachers and education leaders. Several non-profits partnered to provide environmental education resources to teachers through workshops, forums and special events.

In the wake of municipal budget cuts, Adopt-A-Park programs have drawn thousands of volunteers to trash pickups, tree plantings and general spruce ups of city recreation areas.  The city of Chandler opened the Paseo Vista Recreation Area, a 64-acre park built atop the closed city landfill; and the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center opened on the banks of the river in Phoenix to connect people with nature.

The town of Gilbert celebrated its 90th anniversary and was named the 17th safest city in America, one of the best places to live in the U.S. and among the best places in the nation to learn.

Several LEED certified projects came online throughout our region, and 12 Valley mayors signed a proclamation by Valley Forward and the U.S. Green Building Council, Arizona Chapter in support of green schools.

Through a preservation-by-relocation effort, the Sandra Day O’Connor House, originally constructed in Paradise Valley as a family home for the former Supreme Court Justice, was undertaken and piece-by-piece, the entire house was deconstructed and transported to Tempe. It was meticulously reconstructed in Papago Park, with a keen focus on historic preservation and environmental sustainability.

Our region overall has become a brighter green in the past year. And it occurred in the worst recession most of us can remember in our lifetime.  As the year closes with winter’s short days and long evenings, we’re reminded that even in the darkness there is light.

The Canalscape Project Beautifying The Phoenix-Area Canals

The Canalscape Project Envisions Beautifying The Phoenix-Area’s Many Canals

Forget “The Valley of the Sun.” Imagine “The Venice of the Southwest.”

It’s an idea that’s hard to fathom now, especially when most Valley residents think of canals as “ugly, smelly and dangerous,” says Nan Ellin, a former Arizona State University professor who conceived Canalscape with her students.

Canalscape is a concept that encourages Phoenicians to embrace the canals that give life to the desert by developing “places of urban vitality” where major streets meet canals, Ellin says.

Despite the canals’ bad reputation, Valley Forward Association and Ellin see a bright, watery future for Phoenix. With more than 181 miles of canals, Phoenix has more of such waterways than Venice and Amsterdam combined. But unlike their European counterparts, canals in Phoenix are not a vital part of the city’s culture.

“The canals used to be the front porch and they became the back alleys,” with the urban sprawl of the 1960s and 1970s, Ellin says.

Valley Forward is committed to transforming the canals from eyesores to amenities, says Jay Hicks, chair-elect of Valley Forward.

“Canalscape represents the next evolution of Valley Forward being able to really bring their membership to a project,” Hicks says.

He adds that the diversity of Valley Forward’s members will help establish connections and relationships between cities, developers, the Salt River Project and other entities to push Canalscape forward.

Currently, the Canalscape project is in the research and discussion stages in Valley Forward’s land use and open space committee. By the end of this year, Valley Forward hopes to create a separate Canalscape committee to allow all of Valley Forward’s members to participate in the creation process, says George Pasquel III, chair of the land use and open space committee.

Canalscape fits perfectly with two of Valley Forward’s goals — promoting sustainability and giving Phoenicians a high quality of life, Hicks says.

Two important aspects of the Canalscape vision are to bring nature into the city by not hardscaping the selected areas, and to keep the ground level spaces public to attract visitors.

“When the ground floor is public, it’s saying welcome,” Ellin notes.

Each “canalscaped” location would have a unique look. The Canalscape developments could range from a naturally landscaped public recreation area to a public school to small urban hubs complete with restaurants, grocery stores and dry cleaners, Ellin says.

Canalscape’s urban centers would create a lifestyle in which walking, biking and mass transit replace cars as the main modes of transportation, thus making the Valley more sustainable and increasing the quality of life, Ellin says.

Currently, there are several locations being considered for Canalscape’s pilot project, but no decisions have been made.

“The best location for a pilot project is whatever location can get implemented the fastest, have the most positive public impact and be the greatest catalyst for future locations,” Pasquel says.

Gateway Community College, which houses the Canalscape Exhibit, is a possible location and GCC President Eugene Giovannini says he hopes the college is chosen.

“I can’t think of another area in the city that is more worthy of the initial pilot project (to) move (Canalscape) forward, because of its location as it relates to mass transit and an underserved, underdeveloped area in the city,” Giovannini says.

The METRO Light Rail’s 38th Street stop at Gateway Community College will connect to Sky Harbor International Airport’s tram when it is completed. As a result, the stop becomes the front door to the city for visitors, and the city should roll out an attractive welcome mat, Giovannini says.

Whichever location is chosen, Pasquel says he hopes to see Canalscape fully developed in the coming decade.

“I’d like (the canal system) to be an active part of the Valley that’s not so ignored, that people … actually think of it as a thoroughfare that connects areas,” he says.

Canalscape connects the Valley, while also maintaining each community’s uniqueness by involving a “combination of urban and nature, and a combination of live, work, play that you don’t see anywhere else in the Valley,” Ellin says.

“So it would really improve the quality of life … and overall it would really enhance the reputation of the Phoenix metropolitan region.”

16th Street and Indian School Road proposed by Jens Kolb

The intersection of 16th Street and Indian School Road as proposed by Jens Kolb.


16th st and indian school exisiting canal

The intersection of 16th Street and Indian School Road as it exists today.


Metrocenter Proposed by Nicholas Glover

Metro Center as proposed by Nicholas Glover.


metro center today

Metro Center as it exists today.

Photography of Joel Sartore - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Life Through The Lens Of Wildlife Photographer Joel Sartore

It is summer in Antarctica. Frigid temperatures have been replaced by mild, 50-degree days.

Surrounded by green hills rolling into lush, snow-capped mountains and thick fog, Joel Sartore is crouching low to the ground. Usually, it is he who is chasing his subjects, but this time the tables have turned. Instead, in the middle of the beach-like terrain, Sartore is surrounded — by penguins. King penguins to be exact.

“Most of the time the animals I’m seeing are running away, they don’t want anything to do with me,” Sartore says, adding that the King penguins did the exact opposite. “They just wanted to stare at me. I got low on the ground and they stood right over me and looked at me. The whole thing was just tranquil, peaceful, and one of the most impressive things I’ve ever been a part of.”

Most of us will never get the chance to experience such an event. But for Sartore, it’s just another day on the job. From Antarctica to Russia, he has seen it all. Throughout his 20-year career working as a photographer for National Geographic, Sartore has traversed the globe, photographing everything from rare wildlife to hurricane aftermath and even state fairs.

“Once I discovered photography, there was never any turning back for me,” he says.

Sartore’s impressive body of work has been featured in Time, Life, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. He also has contributed to several book projects and has been the subject of national broadcasts.

In addition to his talents as a photographer, Sartore devotes his energy to conservation efforts. A Nebraska native, he is committed to conservation in the Great Plains, is co-founder of the Grassland Foundation, and a founding member of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

Sartore will share his passion for sustainability as the speaker at Valley Forward’s 41st Annual Luncheon on Dec. 3.

“That is just an excellent group. There needs to be 100 groups like them. We have to start talking about this stuff and realizing that it’s easy to be green. It’s certainly a better way to live your life,” Sartore says. “There needs to be more and more people thinking and caring about the earth. We don’t have the luxury of time to count on the next generation to start saving the planet. We have to be doing it now.”

Sartore addresses the global environmental crisis using photography as his platform.

“I really am constantly faced with environmental problems,” says Sartore, a self-professed hyperactive person. “My job is to get people to think.”

While photographing the American Gulf Coast during one of his first assignments for National Geographic, Sartore was drawn to the plight of animals and the environment.

“I remember walking the beach and the bottom of my feet were black with spilled tar and oil, and there was garbage and a dead dolphin wrapped in plastic,” he says. “When you see things like that it makes you think that we could be doing a lot of things better, could be treating the Earth better.”

Sartore’s focus on building a sustainable future has allowed him to draw attention to issues that are often overlooked. His latest book, “Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species,” sheds light on some of the country’s most endangered species of plants and animals, and what the public can do to help. “Rare” was originally inspired by a magazine assignment, before turning into a personal project for Sartore and later a full-fledged book.

Several of the subjects featured in the book were shot in Arizona, including the California condor, photographed at the Phoenix Zoo; and the Tarahumara leopard frog, photographed at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.

Although, sadly, one of the other animals featured in the book, the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit, became extinct during the book’s production, Sartore emphasizes the importance of highlighting environmental issues.

“It was a very good experience to give a voice for the voiceless,” Sartore says. “The encouraging thing is that most species in the book could make it if we pay attention to it. I guess that’s what I try to convey to people: There’s always hope. These things are absolutely worth saving.”

Sartore’s passion for photography began in high school and continued into college, where he earned a degree in journalism with an emphasis in photojournalism from the University of Nebraska. Thanks to some great mentors, Sartore decided to pursue a career in photography, but he didn’t forget his journalism roots.

“In any of these situations I go into, I bring with me a reporter’s aesthetic and background to it,” he says.

This background has proven beneficial, as he shoots such a wide variety of subjects in exotic locations around the world.
“I want to know why things are the way they are and how to fix it,” he says.

As thrilling as his job may be, it comes with its share of dangers. When asked how many times has he almost been killed, Sartore responds on his website: “More than I care to tell my wife about for sure.”

He hasn’t let the danger stop him, but he does try to err on the side of caution.

“You can’t take more pictures if you’re dead,” he writes.

Sartore continues to journey around the globe in search of the next great photo. Currently, he’s preparing to travel to Africa for an assignment. Despite two decades of experience under his belt, Sartore still worries.

“I’m very nervous that I’ll fail, starve and die, in that order,” he says. Irrational fear or secret to success? Maybe worrying is just part of the job, Sartore adds.

“Everything has worked out well so far, yet I’ve always been very worried that nothing ever would,” he says. “With a strong story you may just reach those people who can change the world. If I can right a few wrongs, then that’s probably a life well spent.”

    If You Go:
    Valley Forward’s 41st Annual Luncheon
    11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
    Dec. 3
    Hyatt Regency Phoenix
    122 N. Second St., Phoenix
    Reservations: info@valleyforward.org; (602) 240-2408


    Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

    Environmental Protection Agency

    The Environmental Protection Agency Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

    On Dec. 2, 1970, the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was founded. Since the inception of the agency, the world has changed. Today, the green movement is stronger than ever, and our focus on bettering the environment is unwavering.

    The EPA has also grown with the changing times. You can view the agency’s history on an interactive timeline featured on its website. Some noted achievements include the increase of recycling by American families and businesses. In 1980, only about 10 percent of trash was recycled, increasing to more than 33 percent in 2008. The agency has also helped create high-wage jobs for more than 3,300 Americans and through the passage of the Clean Air Act, helped Americans live better, healthier lives.

    It’s safe to say that the work of the EPA has been fundamental in the shaping our country’s policies and practices regarding the protection and conservation of the environment. Happy anniversary and here’s to many more years of success!

    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.

    A New Approach to Green

    A New Approach To Going Green- Kansas Takes The Lead

    Kansas probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of sustainability, but you’d be surprised — the Sunflower State is making immense progress in saving energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

    This piece in The New York Times highlights the humble beginnings of the Climate and Energy Project, a small nonprofit group whose missions is to get people to limit their fossil fuel emissions. Kansas town managers are attributing the state’s new resolve largely to a yearlong competition sponsored by the Climate and Energy Project that “set out to extricate energy issues from the charged arena of climate politics” as noted in the article.

    What sets this project apart from the countless other sustainability initiatives is the approach.  The decision was made to focus on thrift, patriotism, spiritual conviction and economic prosperity, using these four pillars to try to rally resident of six Kansas towns to make a change in their energy use.

    Why did the conversation have to be about climate change, countered project chairwoman Nancy Jackson. If the goal was to persuade people to reduce their use of fossil fuels, why not identify issues that motivated them instead of getting stuck on something that did not, the Times article reported.

    Despite a hefty roadblock — according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press just  48 percent of people in the Midwest agree with the statement that there is “solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer” — the project trudged on and worked to overcome the skeptics.

    By the looks of things, it’s going well. One of the cities has already reduced its energy use by 5 percent and a wind turbine factory will be built in the Reno County area, creating as many as 400 local jobs.

    Hopefully this will serve as an example for other communities who aren’t so quick to embrace the green movement. This unique approach proves that there you can always find a  way to move toward a sustainable future.

    Source: www.nytimes.com

    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!