Tag Archives: sustainable

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/.

Heliae Algae

Heliae Gets $15 Million Investment

Heliae, an Arizona-based algae technology solutions company, announced a capital raise of $15 million in funding from international conglomerate Salim Group’s agribusiness company, PT. PP London Sumatra Indonesia Tbk, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Agri Investments Pte. Ltd.

Frank Mars, co-Founder and Chairman of the Board for Heliae, stated, “I am personally pleased to welcome the Salim group into the Heliae family. As one of the most prominent equatorial-based food businesses in Southeast Asia, their Chairman, Anthoni Salim, recognizes the need to develop new and sustainable sources of nutrition and agricultural inputs to support the region’s growing demands.”

This new round of investment will support tangible steps toward creating an international presence for Heliae’s technology by funding continued research and development at Heliae’s demonstration facility in Arizona and taking steps toward operating an R&D center in Indonesia that will serve the region. Both of these near-term efforts will support the development of large commercial facilities in both regions in the next few years.

“Frank and I are of one mind on developing the solutions to address today’s issues with soil fertility, fresh water, growing demand for fish and animal feeds and ultimately sustainable fuel,” declared Anthoni Salim. “Our two families are committed to impacting the world’s future in a positive way. Both the large impact we see with algae and Heliae’s comprehensive approach to developing algae technology solutions formed our rationale for this strategic investment.”

This marks a total of close to $50 million in funding that Heliae has received since launching in 2008. As a start-up venture spun out of Arizona State University with the support of Science Foundation of Arizona, Heliae’s mission is to develop and validate technology solutions for the commercial production of algae for a variety of potential uses including food & feed, fertilizer, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and fuel.

“The recognition and support of the Salim Group delivers a sense of validation to our work,” said Dan Simon, President and CEO of Heliae. “These additional funds will help us broaden our reach and allow us to build a presence in Southeast Asia. Of equal importance to Heliae is the strategic relationship we have developed with Salim’s team and alignment of both groups – we look forward to the large impact we’ll be able to make collectively.”

For more information on Heliae, visit Heliae’s website at heliae.com.

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 Kranz ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Mark Kranz, SmithGroup

Mark Kranz, SmithGroup

Mark Kranz, AIA, LEED AP, is the design principal and lead designer for the Phoenix office of SmithGroup’s Higher Education and Science and Technology Studios.  Mark’s work has been published locally, regionally and nationally.

He speaks publicly about sustainable design strategies for laboratory and academic facilities, and his work is consistently recognized by the design and construction industries.  Kranz works regionally within the Western United States with research institutions and institutions of higher education creating laboratory and instructional facilities that elegantly reflect their specific context and function.

He has spent the past 11 years with SmithGroup, creating the vision for some of the most significant architectural contributions for some of the most prominent institutions and public entities in the Southwestern United States including Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, the City of Phoenix, the State of Utah, The City and County of Denver, and the Maricopa County Community College District.

He is currently behind the design visions for numerous landmark projects for clients including the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in Golden Colorado, The University of Hawaii at Hilo, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu, Hawaii, as well as Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona.


Topic: Sustainable Strategies for Higher Educational Facilities: A case study of four sustainable educational facilities in four unique settings.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Room 155

BIG Green Conference 2011


 

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

 



Sponsors:

Green Housing

Green Homeowners Can Now Turn To Converted Shipping Containers

“Living Green” has gone vogue and so has finding new creative “out of the box” ways to do so.

Next month, the forward thinking Phoenix-based development firm of UpCycle Living, led by Ashton Wolfswinkel and Jason Anderson, will break ground on a cutting-edge residential community known as Switzer Terrace in the beautifully forested mountain top city of Flagstaff, Ari., utilizing stacked shipping containers.

Recent years have seen eco-friendly developers look for new ways to promote sustainable living, and this new form of housing has emerged as a phenomenal way to reuse these virtual “LEGO-blocks” as modern sustainable modular homes.

shipping_container_homeShipping containers were invented more than 50 years ago, and are certainly recognized as the basic unit in our global distribution network of products. Every commodity imaginable is shipped throughout the world from toys from China, textiles from India, grain from America, and cars from Germany. Yet, these visionary developers, architects and green designers, such as Upcycle Living and green living enthusiasts, are increasingly turning to these strong, cheap boxes as source building blocks to create some amazing modern architectural wonders.

According to the Upcycle Living’s architects, the modified containers are “nearly indestructible,” as well as resistant to mold, fire, and termites. The shipping containers can be readily modified with a range of creature comforts and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor and resources of more conventional materials. Some of the recent green living uses include disaster relief shelters to luxury condos, vacation homes, and off-the-grid adventurers.

With its modern lines and appealing spaces, the containers turn heads. Upcycle Living’s forested Switzer Terrace  community  boasts individual 6,000-square-foot lots. One such model includes a two bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 1,200 square foot spacious modern home with a two-car garage.  This luxury mountainside showpiece is built from four prefabricated, recycled steel shipping containers, along with some traditional building materials. Seventy percent of the building will be efficiently assembled in a shop, saving time, money and resources.

One such configuration includes a home perched on a hillside lot, with the four containers on top of a two-car garage.  Alternatively, the unit could be configured on a level lot with the garage along the side of the home.

On the inside, the home also demonstrates the importance of a livable floor plan and a well-orchestrated flow of space. On the ground floor, this open-plan module contains the living room, dining area and kitchen — and can be entirely open to the outside by incorporating vast windows or enclosed. Classic modern furniture provides comfort and style without taking over the room. The open kitchen, with its gleaming stainless steel appliances, is ideally suited to the love of entertaining the curious green living friends and family. Upstairs, private spaces are more compartmentalized. affordable-shipping-container-homeThe master bedroom at one end of the unit could look out onto a grove of trees (and will eventually have its own private deck).  The simple lines of the office area at the opposite end are highly conducive to concentration. Overall, this Upcyle Living home is a striking example of what can be achieved with a well-thought-out modular system of construction and design that focuses on sustainable living.

Although it is doubtful this new residential community and product will rebound the Arizona housing market, Upcycle Living has clearly taken a giant leap forward in introducing an innovative housing product whose time has come. However, only time will tell whether progressive Flagstaff homebuyers will catch the vision of this truly “out of the box” green living alternative.

True Food Kitchen Offers Simple, Delicious Meals

True Food Kitchen Offers Simple, Delicious Meals Emphasizing Local And Regionally Sourced Ingredients

Fresh local and regionally sourced food is always a score. Make it delicious and you’ve got a winner.

True Food Kitchen accomplishes just that.

The brainchild of best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil and Fox Restaurant Concepts, True Food Kitchen was first introduced to the Valley two years ago at the Biltmore Fashion Park. Now, the Scottsdale Quarter has gained a tasty addition to its restaurant repertoire.

The menu at True Food Kitchen is unlike those at typical restaurants. Locally and regionally sourced ingredients create a simple but satisfying menu. Helpful guidelines in the menu allow patrons who are vegan, vegetarian or prefer gluten free to quickly choose their meal.

The new location also has other sustainable elements that add to the restaurant’s “green” vibe. It is partially powered by solar panels and has an herb garden adjacent to the restaurant that is utilized for many of the restaurant’s dishes. It also features high efficiency kitchen equipment, waterless urinals (saving 40,000 gallons of water a year), reclaimed wood floors, compostable take out containers, low voltage LED lighting and much, much more.

One of the neatest green factors I enjoyed is the reusable wine bottles, including a Chardonnay from a local winery in Flagstaff, Kind Vines. The bottles have painted labels and glass corks and are returned to the distributor to be washed, sanitized and reused. A real throwback to the old school milkman days.

Of course, the sustainable theme is felt throughout the restaurant’s décor with elements of nature visible in the fragrant herbs, potted plants and flowers dotting the interior and exterior.

But enough about the green stuff, let’s get to the food. The cuisine at True Food tastes different right away, but only in the best way possible. Every flavor, texture, and aroma is enhanced — you can simply taste the freshness in each bite. We began our meal with shrimp dumplings, comprised of shiitake mushrooms, brocolli, kale, ginger and cilantro – that packed just the right amount of punch.

Then we moved on to some entrees: Chicken Sausage Pizza topped with tomato, fennel and fontina as well as the Teriyaki Rice Bowl, made up of Asian vegetables, sesame, avocado and shrimp. The pizza was made with organic flour, spelt and flax seed and you can almost trick yourself into thinking it was as healthy as pure veggies.  But indeed, the normal greasy, pit-of-the-stomach feeling you get after eating pizza? Gone! These slices tasted fresh and invigorating, a testament to the quality of the ingredients.

The rice bowl was also a hit. Diners have a choice between pairing the dish with tofu, chicken or shrimp. I chose the shrimp option and was also blown away with the result. Just like the pizza, the rice bowl left me feeling satisfied but not stuffed. Each ingredient had its own unique flavor that harmonized perfectly together.

To top it off, we selected a flourless chocolate cake, made with 72 percent cocoa and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel. The decadent treat was so good, we didn’t even miss the flour.

For an appetizing and healthy meal, True Food Kitchen is a fantastic choice for the health-conscious foodie with a hearty appetite.

If You Go:

Scottsdale Quarter
15191 N. Scottsdale Rd., Ste 100
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
480-265-4500
www.truefoodkitchen.com



The idea of starting your own business can be frightening with the recession - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

6 Tips To Launching Your Own Business In A Down Economy

The idea of starting your own business can be frightening, particularly with the recession stubbornly choking the Arizona economy. However, by following a few tips for getting started, launching your own company doesn’t need to be scary.

In fact, there are a few advantages to launching a business during an economic downturn. Commercial space is available at extraordinarily good prices. Talented professionals are looking for work. Goods and services can be found at discounted prices. And, depending on your industry, competition may be scarce.

1. Practice Due Diligence
It’s critical to objectively evaluate your proposed venture. Asking yourself some hard questions may discourage you from pursuing your first venture, but that is not a negative or pessimistic approach. It’s a useful tool for evaluating your business. Start with these questions: Is there a genuine need for the product or service you are offering? Is that need already being met by established companies? If so, what improvement or unique feature are you bringing to the table? Do you have the necessary skills and resources to start your business? If not, are you prepared to bring in the people with the skills and capital that are needed, and possibly give up some ownership?

2. Prepare a Business Plan
Too often, entrepreneurs articulate a great idea and foresee success, but gloss over the hard work. That hard part is thinking through the idea for your business and writing it into a plan, including the steps you’ll need to take to implement your idea. Start with an outline and consult a book or online guide about writing business plans. It’s important that your end result is a completed plan that includes a budget for your business.

3. Determine Capital Requirements
Most small businesses are funded with the business owner’s own money and funds from family and friends. A venture capitalist or angel investor may provide the necessary capital in exchange for part ownership of your business. It’s critical to focus on the amount of money you will need to start and operate your business, including at each stage of the company’s development.

4. Create a Board of Advisers
Creating a network of advisers can be a tremendous asset to a start-up business. It’s helpful if that board consists of advisers with a diverse array of professional backgrounds. That diversity will ensure you receive insights from a wide range of perspectives. Good choices for advisers may include your attorney, accountant, suppliers, customers, bankers and realtors.

5. Tap Into Available Resources
There are myriad advisers, consultants and nonprofit agencies that will assist you in developing your business — marketing it, creating websites and raising capital — who work for free or a nominal fee. The Small Business Administration (SBA), for instance, is a valuable and cost-effective resource. Moreover, SCORE: Counselors to America’s Small Business, provides free advice and mentoring for small business owners. If you pay for a similar service, be sure to get recommendations from a trusted adviser. Then, check that company’s references.

6. Listen
The more you listen — the more you truly hear an adviser’s ideas — the more advice you will be able to translate into actionable plans for your company.

Still, while these recessionary times may present a good opportunity for entrepreneurs, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

Select an industry that is doing well, despite the recession. The health care industry, senior care and information technologies are financially better off than many other industries.

Choose a business sector with a bright future — Businesses that tap into growing consumer demand for green or sustainable products may be an avenue worth pursuing. There was a 41 percent increase in consumer purchases of green products and services from 2004 to 2009, according to the research firm Mintel. Moreover, there may be federal or state subsidies or tax credits available for green companies.

Select a company with low capital requirements. Home-based businesses with low start-up costs may be good choices, notably because the ongoing credit crunch will likely make it tough to get a loan to cover these expenses.

If you are considering starting your own business, you will be in good company. More than half the companies listed on the Fortune 500 in 2009 were launched during a recession, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Moreover, in 2009, an average of 558,000 new businesses were launched each month in the United States.

The trick to joining these ranks is to get started. There’s no better time than now, recession or not.

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something,” Nolan Bushnell, founder of both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, once said. “It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Illustration of suburb with recycle logo

Sustainability Is Possible In The Suburbs. Really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Tartesso Elementary

Elementary School Leaves A Small Carbon Footprint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crayon

ASU, Crayola & More Making Sustainable Impact

When it comes to sustainability, it’s a great time to be proud of Arizona.  This week we’ve gathered stories about ASU making the green honor roll, Phoenix being a top city for graduates and others.

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

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

ASU Makes the Green Honor Roll
Arizona State University was one of the 18 colleges and universities that made The Princeton Review’s 2011 Green Rating Honor Roll.  ASU was chosen for leading the way in the sustainability movement. It established the first School of Sustainability in the U.S., and employs more solar panels than any other university in the country.

Phoenix is One of the Top Cities for Green Grads
Phoenix is No. nine on mnn.com’s top 10 cities for new grads seeking green jobs.  Sandwiched between Detroit and Houston, Phoenix’s solar capabilities and commitment to green endeavors make it one of the top.  One of Phoenix’s favorite Suns also has his city on the list.  Sacramento, Calif., whose mayor is Kevin Johnson, is No. six.

Yet Another Reason to Buy a Hybrid

Hybrid cars are almost never stolen.  Whereas gas guzzlers like the Cadillac Escalade should just have targets painted on them.  One in every 100 cars that is stolen is an Escalade.  Small cars like the Mini Cooper and the Saturn VUE are also low on a thief’s wish list.

Crayola Goes Green
A 15-acre solar farm could help crayola not just produce green (crayons) but also be green.  Funded in part by a federal stimulus, this farm could produce enough energy to help produce one-third of Crayola’s annual output of crayons.

Walmart and Seventh Generation Team Up
Seventh Generation, which produces environmentally-friendly cleaning products, will put its products in about 1,500 Walmart stores nationwide and online.  Previously Seventh Generation and Walmart haven’t been the best of friends.  But maybe they’re coming together for a greater good?

USA Energy Guide

Green News Roundup – Alternative Energy, USAEnergyGuide & More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.usaenergyguide.com

Cohesive Workplace

Cohesive Sustainable Workplace Environment

The summer of fun in Arizona has arrived. What are some of the exciting topics around the water cooler this season? Consider these: A splendid May that has seen unseasonably cool temperatures; our Phoenix Suns vying for a championship; environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico; this little thing called Senate Bill 1070.

Did you just feel the air go out of the break room? Regardless of personal and political ideology, the recent piece of state legislation (with national implications) brings to light a workplace issue that should be at the forefront of managers minds: How do we build a cohesive and sustainable workplace?

Cohesion in the workplace drives company loyalty, reduces employee churn, increases efficiency and productivity, and creates an environment where people desire to work. What does this mean from a business sustainability standpoint? Better people, better work, and better potential profit. A workplace environment in which employees dread coming to work, do not feel engaged, and are not valued does not equate to a prudent business model. An organization that embodies employee respect and engagement has a framework for success and sustainability.

In the midst of our state’s economic and social uncertainty, here are some ideas to help foster a more cohesive environment in your workplace:

Stakeholder Engagement:
You will be amazed at the innovative ideas and solutions that your employees possess. Provide your employees, at all levels, with the opportunity to “co-create” their future and the future of the organization in concert with you, the manager.  Buy-in, especially by those most closely tied to the organization, is always in style.

Employees as Assets:
Don’t marginalize or alienate the greatest asset in your workplace; employees. Make a concerted effort to develop and advance your employees professional and personal life. You will be amazed how a little development will produce a lifelong raving fan that works harder and better for the organization.

Create a nurturing environment:
Workplace stress can have deleterious effects on employee behavior, health, and family life. Combat this by making the workplace one in which people have fun, interact, and look forward to coming to each day.

Arizona is a beautiful state that is home to a diverse and pluralistic community of individuals that provide us with a rich culture. Naturally, this permeates into our collective workforce. While businesses should always act in a manner that complies with the current legal framework, they should also make a concerted effort to establish a more cohesive environment for its diverse workforce and act in a more sustainable manner.

What are your success stories in creating cohesive and sustainable business environments?

BP Oil Spill

Green News Roundup – Oil Spill In The Gulf Of Mexico, Eco Style

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green job growth, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, eco style and more. Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com.

Green Jobs Slowly Ticking Upward
According to the NY Times Green Blog the green economy is growing, albeit slowly. Though green services and businesses accounted for 1 to 2 percent of the private business economy in 2007, there are many signs pointing to the number being on the rise.

Eco Style
Being “green” is becoming quite stylish. Art of Board, a design company based in Hannover, PA, has transformed discarded skateboard materials into a variety of unique design elements including household accessories, wall tiles and more.

BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
The devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has captured the attention of the nation and the world. The Environmental Protection Agency has set up a special website to track progress and containment of the spill. A 100-ton containment structure will be placed over a blown-out oil well; the plan is to contain the biggest leak with the structure. Visit the site to get the most up-to-date information.

Sopping Up An Oil Slick With Castaway Hair
In order to protect coastlines from the approaching oil slick, containment booms are typically used to sop up the oil. However, an alternative source for the booms is something you probably wouldn’t think of — hair.

60-foot Vessel Sets Sail On an 11,000-mile Voyage
Sure sailing from the San Francisco Bay to Sydney, Australia isn’t that unusual. However, doing so on a boat made from recycled plastic bottles is! The aptly named “Plastiki” set sail on March 20. The goal of the voyage is to “call attention to environmental issues like bottled water and plastic waste.”  Solar panels and windmills power the vessel, and the crew stays in touch via Skype, Twitter, blogs and video updates. Life on a boat made from 12,000 reclaimed plastic bottles isn’t easy, but the crew is determined to finish their journey in a sustainable fashion.

Green World

Green News Roundup-Sustainable Haiti, Economic Development & More

The catastrophic events that have stricken the people of Haiti demonstrate — quite lamentably — that in a world of nanotechnology, Google-enabled mobile phones, double tall soy lattes, and proposed universal healthcare, there remain societies on the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse. For comparison sake, recall the 1989 earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area; a 7.0 geological shift took the lives of 63 people. The same magnitude befell the people of Haiti on Jan. 12; while estimates vary, 100,000 could be dead. That is half of the population of the City of Tempe.

International aid organizations have begun to alleviate immediate suffering; there has been a nationally televised charity concert where people could “text-message” help from the comfort of their own home; myriad countries have sent physical and monetary support. However, there remains a normative question that should be on our minds:

What should we do to ensure a more sustainable Haiti, in the future?

Consider these:

Expand education efforts:

In a nation where 38 percent of the population is under the age of 14, developing intellectual capital will allow good ideas to originate, blossom, and be implemented in a country that is in dire need of them.

Economic development and investment:

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. By advancing an equitable combination of foreign direct investment, NGO/nonprofit work, and domestic revenue producing opportunities we can ensure that Haitians are placed on a path of economic self sufficiency;

Further micro-lending networks and opportunities to allow access to entrepreneurial capital and development. Jobs starting from bottom up will empower individuals and reduce the economic stratification that is rampant in the country.

Establish legitimate governance systems:

Haiti’s government has utilized 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers to maintain some semblance of order and control since 2004. While a future government does not have to be a veritable paragon of representative democracy and efficiency, the people of Haiti deserve a government that will work — vigorously and in earnest — to advance their well-being. Imagine there were a comprehensive and enforced modern building code prior to the earthquake; would Haiti have fared more like San Francisco?

The world is not a mutually exclusive place anymore. We, a global people, are connected to one another in innumerable ways. As such, we need to demonstrate our solidarity and resolute commitment to creating a more sustainable Haiti. I challenge you to ask what else you, your business, organization, or nonprofit can contribute towards the economic, social, and environmental revitalization of Haiti.

Let’s start a thoughtful and innovative conversation about how businesses, organizations, and nonprofits can move beyond status-quo assistance and be truly entrepreneurial and ground-breaking in their aid. I look forward to making positive change happen, together.

Recycled Plastic Used as Building Material

Recycled Plastic Bottles — Building Material For Classrooms

It’s all about the three Rs right? — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Laura Kutner certainly took this idea to a whole new level when she led the way in the construction of a school building in Guatemala, using discarded plastic bottles.

The inspiration came to her when she realized there was plastic trash everywhere yet classrooms had no walls. Why not use the resources available and create a solution?

Kutner, a Peace Corps volunteer, gathered the community of Granados — a village of 900 people — to collect more than 4,000 used plastic drink bottles. They then stuffed these bottles with other waste material and stacked them side by side, tied them with chicken wire and coated them with a cement-sand mix.

The Guatemalan group Pura Vida, inspired Kutner to the design. The group was using bottle-filled “eco-blocks” for construction projects.  With the help of local businesses, who donated labor and materials, and the Hug it Forward organization the project was successfully completed.

I’m no engineer but I was very impressed at this hands-on yet useful approach. This sustainable solution was a great gift to the children of the school. Not only did they recycle plastic bottles that would have otherwise littered the area, they received the biggest reward — a safe, stable building to learn in.

Read the full story here: www.oregonlive.com

Peace Corps
Pura Vida
Hug it Forward

Moving Valley Arizona 2010

Moving the Valley and Arizona Forward

Oh, give me land, lots of land
Under starry skies above.
Don’t fence me in.

That little tune written by Cole Porter and Montana engineer Bob Fletcher has served as the unofficial song of the West for almost 75 years. It’s captured the lure of the West; with all this room, there’s no need to grow up — grow out!

Despite warnings dating back decades, Western cities have been growing out at a rapid clip. Now we have to face the fact that our resources cannot sustain this type of urban sprawl.

It’s estimated that the state’s population will swell to 10 million by around 2040. Eight million of those residents will be living in the “megapolitan” Sun Corridor, a swath of land stretching from the middle of Yavapai County to western Cochise County to the Mexican border.

Fortunately, one organization, Valley Forward Association, has been working steadily on this problem for 40 years. Valley Forward’s mission is to bring business and civic leaders together in order to find ways to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities.

One of Valley Forward’s signature events, the Environmental Excellence Awards, takes place this weekend. The awards program is the state’s oldest and largest environmental competition. The program, now in its 29th year, recognizes buildings and structures, site development and landscape, art in public places, environmental technologies, environmental education/communication, environmental stewardship and livable communities that promote the cause of sustainability. The event is held in partnership with SRP.

While Valley Forward has long been at the forefront of the sustainability movement in the region, several others now have joined the cause. In recognition of that, the U.S. Green Building Council is holding its prestigious Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Phoenix, Nov. 11-13. The keynote speaker is Nobel Peace Prize winner,  former Vice President Al Gore.  AZ Big Media is a proud in-kind partner of Greenbuild.

Another sustainability event that’s making its presence known is AZ BIG Media’s own Southwest Build-It-Green Expo & Conference, presented by SRP. The second annual event takes place March 18-20, 2010.

This year’s inaugural BIG Expo & Conference made good on its promise to be the Southwest’s largest annual event on sustainability for the commercial and residential marketplace. Nearly 9,000 people attended the BIG Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center, visiting the up to 300 exhibitors from commercial and residential businesses that offer sustainable products and services that affect everyday life.

The conference portion of the BIG Expo brought together industry experts, Valley leaders, instructors from Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and members from such organizations as Valley Forward, Valley Partnership, BOMA, SRP, APS, the U.S. Green Building Council and many more.

While Arizona has made significant progress in the sustainability movement we have to remember to keep moving forward.

Janet Perez
Editor-in-Chief
Arizona Business Magazine

www.valleyforward.org
www.greenbuildexpo.org
www.builditgreenexpo.com

Star Island, Green Island Resort

Star Island — A Green Island Resort Dream

While channel surfing on a recent Saturday, I stumbled across a show counting down the best exclusive island resorts. I decided to indulge in a little daydreaming and watched the special. Much to my surprise, near the top of the list was a resort unlike any other.

S.T.A.R. Island is a 35-acre island located near the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. The acronym stands for Sustainable Terrain and Resources, which, according to its Web site means that S.T.A.R. Island is “slated to be the world’s first sustainable, carbon neutral exotic island resort.”

The description alone is enticing. “An exclusive private island resort community and shining example of sustainable development, seamlessly combining the latest earth-friendly construction and design with the ulimate in luxury and comfort. A pure paradise where every detail has been artfully designed to balance with our environment at every level.”

How does S.T.A.R. Island plan on achieving such an amazing feat? Well, with a few things. A mixture of solar, wind, hydro and biofuels will help the resort provide typical amenities you would find at any luxury resort, but without any reliance on fossil fuels. The resort’s carbon footprint will be virtually nonexistent, washed away with the clear blue waters of the ocean.

Photovoltaic cells will convert natural light into electricity. The cells, which will be placed on the roof of every building, are designed to produce enough electricity to power all the resort facilities. The buildings will be constructed from Insulated Concrete Forms, eco-friendly, non-toxic recyclable polystyrene that provides not only a strong structure, but also a thermal barrier. Because of this unique material, the size of the resort’s heating/cooling units will be smaller than those normally found on such buildings. In addition, each building will also have a mini-wind turbine with excess energy being stored for later use.

But the green technology doesn’t end there. The resort will house geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, rainwater harvesting, and more. The developers of S.T.A.R. Island aren’t the first to embark on this idea, but they do appear to be among the first to actually achieve it. I must say I’m quite impressed with the resort and am curious to see how it turns out.

Led by president and lead designer of Star Island Development David H. Sklar, the developers have put together a top-notch team of designers and consultants to make the resort a reality. Now, if only I can figure out a way to come up with the green to experience this green resort … stay tuned.

www.starislandbahamas.com

Arizona State University

Arizona State University Makes The Green Honor Roll

“Go Green” indeed! Arizona State University has been named one of the nation’s “greenest” universities by the Princeton Review. For the second year in a row, ASU has made the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll rating of environmentally-friendly institutions. And we’re among some pretty elite neighbors: Harvard, Berkeley and Yale to name a few.

The Princeton Review began its Green Ratings last year with the help of ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental organization that participates in the project. The schools are measured on a scale of 60 to 99 and the schools that made the 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll (go ASU!) received the highest possible score of a 99.

“At Arizona State University, sustainability is a fundamental precept underlying its teaching, learning, research and business missions. ASU President Michael Crow is co-chair of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. The Tempe campus has the largest collection of energy-providing solar panels on a single U.S. university campus.
Established in 2007, ASU’s School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges. The school has over 60 faculty representing over 40 disciplines and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs along with a professional certificate. ASU subsidizes bus and light rail passes for all students and employees and offers car-sharing and a carpool program with special parking privileges. A student-run bicycle co-op offers low- or no-cost bike repairs and free bike rentals.”— The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review names these areas as the criteria for the ratings:

  • Whether the school’s students have a campus quality of life that is healthy and sustainable.
  • How well the school is preparing its students for employment and citizenship in a world defined by environmental challenges.
  • The school’s overall commitment to environmental issues.  The institutional survey for the rating included ten questions on everything from energy use, recycling, food, buildings, and transportation to academic offerings (availability of environmental studies degrees and courses) and action plans and goals concerning greenhouse gas emission reductions.

And there’s more good news. The publisher of the Princeton Review said that this year there was a 30 percent increase in the number of colleges participating in the Green Rating survey. The Princeton Review has also dedicated a special resource area on its Web site for students that are serious about the environment and are interested in learning more about attending a green college.

As an alumni of ASU I couldn’t be prouder of this achievement. The School of Sustainability is already making a huge step forward and this accomplishment only adds to the school’s ongoing commitment to greener living. This also brings the issue of the environment to the forefront and grabs the attention of a younger audience that will hopefully be motivated to do something about it. Dedication to sustainability is no easy task, but such sizable schools as ASU can certainly make a positive impact on the movement.

Criteria for The Princeton Review Green Rating of Colleges


The Princeton Review tallied the Green Rating scores based on institutional data it obtained from the colleges during the 2008-2009 academic year in response to ten survey questions that asked:

1) The percentage of food expenditures that goes toward local, organic or otherwise environmentally preferable food.

2) Whether the school offers programs including free bus passes, universal access transit passes, bike sharing/renting, car sharing, carpool parking, vanpooling or guaranteed rides home to encourage alternatives to single-passenger automobile use for students.

3) Whether the school has a formal committee with participation from students that is devoted to advancing sustainability on campus.

4) Whether new buildings are required to be LEED (environmental certification of equipment/appliances) Silver certified or comparable.

5) The school’s overall waste diversion rate.

6) Whether the school has an environmental studies major, minor or concentration.

7) Whether the school has an “environmental literacy” requirement.

8) Whether the school has produced a publicly available greenhouse gas emissions inventory and adopted a climate action plan consistent with 80 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 targets.

9) What percentage of the school’s energy consumption, including heading/cooling and electrical, is derived from renewable sources (this definition included “green tags” but not nuclear or large-scale hydropower).

10) Whether the school employs a dedicated full-time (or full-time equivalent) sustainability officer.

*Source: The Princeton Review

asunews.asu.edu
www.princetonreview.com/green-honor-roll
www.princetonreview.com/green/
www.ecoamerica.net

Solar Power in Arizona

State Incentives – Solar & Renewables

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency was established in 1995 and provides detailed analysis of federal and state incentives for solar and renewable energy throughout the country.

The website notes that the project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), mainly through the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis (PBA). The database is an ongoing project of the North Carolina Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

This site is a great tool for those beginning the journey of making their homes/businesses more sustainable. From green building incentives to the utility rebate programs this information is definitely worth checking out when researching various green options.

For more information on the database and how Arizona fares in comparison to other states check out their Web site at: www.dsireusa.org


www.ncsc.ncsu.edu
www.irecusa.org
www.eere.energy.gov
www.nrel.gov