Category Archives: Sustainability

Local experts and national author to discuss state of sustainability in metro Phoenix, Jan. 17

A panel of local experts and Andrew Ross, author of “Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City,” will discuss the current state of sustainability in metropolitan Phoenix at a public forum on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.  The event, free to the public, will be held at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center at 415 E. Grant Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., panel discussion 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., audience Q&A 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and reception with complimentary refreshments 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Panel moderator will be Charles Redman, Arizona State University (ASU) Virginia M. Ullmann professor of Natural History and the Environment and founding director of the ASU School of Sustainability. The current slate of panelists (with two to be added soon) includes:

  • Maria Baier, state land commissioner, Arizona;
  • Steve Betts, former president/CEO of SunCor Development and current Arizona District Council Chair of the Urban Land Institute;
  • Terry Goddard, former Phoenix mayor and former Arizona attorney general who now teaches a course at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus: “Phoenix and the Art of Public Decision Making;”
  • Taz Loomans, architect and writer/blogger on sustainability issues;
  • Kris Mayes, former commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission and current director of the ASU Law and Sustainability Program and professor at the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law;
  • Andrew Ross, professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.
  • Silvia Urrutia, director of Housing and Healthcare Finance, Raza Development Fund

According to Susan Copeland, steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition, “Issues of sustainability are paramount to the future of Phoenix. Ross’ book is a great springboard from which to begin, or continue, discussion.”

The Downtown Voices Coalition is sponsoring the event with in-kind support from the Lexington Hotel in downtown Phoenix, Four Peaks Brewery of Tempe and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

Bird on Fire” is available at Made Art Boutique, 922 North 5th Street in downtown Phoenix and at Changing Hands Bookstore at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. It is also available at Burton Barr, Cesar Chavez and Mesquite Branch libraries in Phoenix.

Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources — the vibrancy of neighborhoods, the strength of the arts community, the uniqueness of historic properties, and the wonderful small businesses that dot downtown. For more information, visit

Valley Forward’s Environmental Excellence Awards Ceremony is September 17

Valley Forward is hosting their 31st annual Environmental Excellence Awards on September 17 at the Westin Kierland Resort.

Valley Forward Association’s 31st Annual Environmental Excellence Awards program, held in partnership with SRP for the tenth consecutive year, is scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011, at The Westin Kierland.

This prestigious program has grown significantly over the years and now encompasses seven broad categories, including buildings and structures, livable communities, site development and landscape, art in public places, environmental technologies, environmental education/communication, and environmental stewardship (SRP Award).

Read more here, plus watch a video from KAET’s Horizon program highlighting the 2010 awardees. There’s also a link to register to attend this year’s ceremony.

FREE Regional Tree & Shade Summit in Downtown Phoenix on Wednesday

Growing Connections: Roots to Branches

Arizona and its communities face challenging problems with diminishing resources. How do communities do more with less? Green Infrastructure is a solution multiplier that provides cost effective solutions to many economic, social and environmental problems. All Arizona communities and businesses have a role in cultivating a healthier, more livable and prosperous future.

Presentations and a Discussion on Cultivating Green Infrastructure

The Regional Tree & Shade Summit will bring together municipal and private sector professionals for a one-day meeting to address the growing importance of regional tree and shade plans and green infrastructure to the long-term sustainability and success of our communities.



Wednesday, March 9, 2011
8:30am – 5:00pm


A.E. England Building @ Civic Space Park
424 N. Central Ave, Downtown Phoenix

Adjacent to Downtown Phoenix Central Station. Light Rail Use Strongly Encouraged


Space is Limited: Register at

More information

If you have any questions, please contact Anne Reichman at or call 480-965-2168.


This event is brought to you by: 

  • Arizona Forestry
  • ASU Global Institute of Sustainability
  • City of Glendale
  • City of Phoenix
  • City of Mesa
  • US Department of Agriculture Forestry Service

Phoenix City Council to Discuss Proposed Water Rate Increase on Wednesday

Main entrance, with fountain.

Flickr photo by sea turtle

Phoenix City Council is taking public comments on the water rates proposal (see below) and will be discussing the issue at 3 pm on Wednesday, February 23rd.

The meeting will be held at City Council Chambers, 200 W Jefferson St.

Proposed Water Rate Increase Overview

[Source: City of Phoenix]


To provide safe and reliable drinking water to Phoenix businesses and 2.3 million residents – a critical public health issue.

Need for proposed 7 percent water rate increase:

  • Debt service to repay more than $1 billion in bonds issued in last five years for projects already completed
  • Maintain AAA credit rating, which saves taxpayers money on interest
  • New unfunded, federally mandated requirements

— $200 million – Safe Drinking Water Act
— $15 million per year in related operating expenses

  • Over the last 10 years, for every million gallons of water produced, chemical costs have increased by 493%; electricity costs by 68%; and raw water costs by 41%
  • Proposal increases average water bill by $2.21 per month
  • No increase in wastewater rates; 4.4 percent combined increase

Water Services has instituted significant cost cuts and generated millions in revenues:

  • Reduced water and wastewater capital budgets by $621 million – delaying, reducing and eliminating lower-priority projects
  • Cut operating budget by $10 million; eliminated 25 percent of management position
  • Raised $4.5 million per year by selling reclaimed water to Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station; $30 million region wide over four years
  • Collecting $5 million/year with new late payment fees; sold land assets for $2.1 million
  • Contracting with private sector for bill-payment processing, capital construction, and pipeline repair projects

Water Services employees:

  • 803 employees – just 17 percent of Water Services Department budget is personnel costs
  • Responsible for operating, maintaining and repairing 540-square-mile system, including six water treatment plants, 7,000 miles of pipeline, 50,000 fire hydrants, and customer service needs for 403,000 water accounts
  • Lowest number of employees per capita in 10 years
  • Funding rate increase solely through personnel costs requires cutting approximately one-third of Water’s employees

Comparison to other water providers:

  • Phoenix’s water and  wastewater average family costs are sixth-lowest of 20 largest U.S. cities
  • Phoenix’s rates are third-lowest of 11 large, southwestern cities and lower than most Valley water providers

Costs of not implementing water rate increase:

  • Risk of losing AAA bond rating; leading to higher borrowing costs and larger shortfalls
  • Capital funds for rehabilitation and replacement programs would need to be reduced, which may lead to decreased levels of service, increasing risk of system failures
  • Significantly higher rate increases will be needed in future years to maintain system

Additional information:

The Phoenix City Council will consider the water rates proposal at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, at City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St.

View a video on water rates

Sustainability Forum at Downtown Phoenix’s Convention Center this Thursday

The Phoenix Convention Center invites you to join then at their Annual Sustainability Forum between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010.

  • Meet and network with local businesses, professionals and industry experts Learn how to implement sustainable practices at your business or home
  • Visit exhibitor booths

This event is free and open to the public!

Discussion topics and exhibits include:

  • Why Local Matters – Kimber Lanning, Local First Arizona
  • Green Careers – Dr. George Brooks, Southwest Green Magazine; Phil McNeely, City of Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs; Mark Wilhelm, Green Ideas; Eric Frei, Waxie
  • Power of the Virtuous Cycle: Closing the Loop on Food Waste – Miguel Jardine, Vermisoxx
  • Green Lifestyles – Terry Gellenbeck, City of Phoenix Public Works, Steve Priebe, City of Phoenix Street Transportation, Tishin Donkersley, AZ Green Living Magazine
  • Holiday Menu – Jesus Cibrian, Executive Chef of Aventura Cartering


Sustainability Forum at the Phoenix Convention Center
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010
West Building Arcade 100 N. Third Street

For more information call Michael Campos at (602) 534-6451

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Downtown Phoenix ASU Building Wins Design Award and Achieves LEED Gold

The Downtown Voices Coalition provided input into final design to improve the building’s shading and create a more open looking building.

[Source: City of Phoenix]

The city-owned Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation Phase II building (NHI2) recently won the Design-Build Institute of America‘s (DBIA) National Design-Build Award for an Education facility over $25 million, and was one of two buildings, out of hundreds of entries nationwide, to be nominated for the Best Overall Award. In addition, NHI2 has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design New Construction (LEED®-NC) Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council, making it one of just a few LEED®-NC Gold certified buildings in Phoenix.

To be considered for the prestigious DBIA National Design-Build Awards, projects must demonstrate successful application of design-build principles, including collaboration in the early stages of the project and the acceptance of single-entity risk. The project must be completed on time, on budget and without litigation. Winning projects are honored for advanced and innovative application of total Integrated Project Delivery and finding unique solutions to project challenges.

The sustainable LEED®-NC Gold certified building features solar water heating, which harvests Arizona’s abundant renewable energy while reducing the building’s carbon footprint. More than three-quarters of construction waste (967 tons) was diverted from conventional landfills, materials used for the project contained recycled content and 70 percent of all wood products were certified by the Forest Stewardship.

The five-story, 84,000-square-foot, copper-clad urban building, located in downtown Phoenix, creates shade and adds architectural character to an evolving downtown core. It features classrooms, office and administrative space, a 240-seat conference center and a 60-seat computer classroom laboratory.

The NHI2 is part of a collection of seven buildings that thread together a cohesive and identifiable campus environment and is home to one of the largest and most innovative nursing programs in the U.S. The design-build team consisted of DPR Construction and SmithGroup architects.

Media Contacts:

Sina Matthes, City of Phoenix
Terry Olbrysh, Arizona State University
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Phoenix Bicycle Boulevard Update

[Source: Taz Loomans,]

The Bicycle Boulevard is planned to start at the northeast part of the Gateway Community College campus.  One entry point is the Grand Canal at 40th Street and Van Buren.  The nearest Light Rail stops are 38th St. and Washington and 44th Street and Washington.   Once you get on the Grand Canal, proceed northwest.  A foot bridge will be built to get from the canal to Roosevelt Street.  The path then heads west on Roosevelt all the way to 19th St, then south on 19th Street to either McKinley or Fillmore.


Image credit: Handout by the City of Phoenix Streets and Transportation Department

There are three choices of where the Bike Boulevard can go in the Garfield neighborhood and through Downtown, one is straight west on McKinley, another is Pierce (at 14th Street) and the third option is Fillmore. Currently, the McKinley route gained most traction at the last Bike Boulevard meeting.  Any of these three routes would take the biker west to 11th Avenue and cross the pedestrian bridge over I-10 and then west to 15thAvenue.  Going north on 15th Ave will take you to Encanto ParkPhoenix College, Christown Mall and the Arizona Canal just north of Dunlap Ave.  A foot bridge is planned for the Arizona Canal as well.

Essentially, the bike boulevard would be connecting Gateway Community College to Downtown, to northwest Phoenix.  The Light Rail stop at Gateway connects Tempe and part of Mesa to the bike boulevard as well, extending the reach even further.  Plus, let’s not forget that the bike boulevard will also serve those who ride to Sky Harbor Airport, like the employees.

The bicycle boulevard would consist of new bicycle lanes, take advantage of existing bicycle lanes, and where bicycle lanes can’t go in, there will be 24” bike dot markings every 250’ or less.  Bike dots will go on local (neighborhood) streets where there is no room for bicycle lanes.  Depending on which of the three Downtown routes is chosen, there will be 1 to 3 special pedestrian or bicyclist activated signals known as HAWKS (High-intensity Activated crosswalks) added at busy road crossings.

Since this project is relatively inexpensive to implement, funding for the bicycle boulevard will likely come from the normal capital improvement program or CIP.  The bicycle boulevard is projected to be in place by early 2011.

If you have questions or comments or want to give your two cents on where the boulevard should go, contact Joseph Perez, the City of Phoenix Traffic Safety & Bicycle Coordinator  at 602-534-9529 or

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“Spills, Sins and Starbucks” at downtown Phoenix’s The Duce Thursday Nov 11

[From: Rogue Green]
November Rogue Green will bring us back to one of my favorite downtown Phoenix hang-outs – THE DUCE! With nothing like it in the city, Steve & Andi Rosenstein, the Duce owners, are a breath of fresh air for downtown Phoenix warehouse district with their visionary space, Midwestern work ethic and love for sustainability and values-driven business. These are people who know how to walk their talk.

This venue will serve as the perfect backdrop for our very exciting November event – a special presentation by my friend and colleague, green architect and best-selling author, Eric Corey Freed.

After seeing Eric’s new keynote presentation, “Spills, Sins and Starbucks: How Oil Has Negatively Altered Our Built Environment” at 2010 West Coast Green in San Francisco, I knew I needed to bring him and his insightful talk to Phoenix.

This will be a great chance to be in an intimate atmosphere with some of the best forward thinkers around.

The event is free to attend, but we will be collecting donations for our “For the Love of Bundt” fundraiser which took place last month, as we are still about $1000 shy from our goal.

The Duce is offering a special 15% discount on purchases from R&R Surplus on the evening of the event to help contribute to “For the Love of Bundt” as well. Time to stock up on Champion gear & warm hoodies!

I look forward to seeing you there!

Msss. Champion

*     *     *

You can find more information on the Rogue Green blog or Facebook page.

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Donate your Used Pens, Pencils and Markers at Phoenix Public Library

[Source: City of Phoenix]

Phoenix Public Library and the city of Phoenix Public Works Department kick off Recycle Write on Monday, Nov. 1, 2010. Visit any one of 16 library locations or nine OfficeMax retail stores in Phoenix to deposit used pens, pencils and markers of all types in designated collection containers.

The collected writing instruments will be shipped to TerraCycle, a company specializing in making consumer products from post-consumer materials. Proceeds from the program benefit the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library. Founded in 1977, the Friends support library programs such as the children’s summer reading game, GED classes and other services.

Newell Rubbermaid Office Products is assisting the Friends by underwriting the cost of shipping collected materials to TerraCycle.

Phoenix Public Library is a system of 15 branch libraries and the Burton Barr Central Library. For more information, call 602-262-4636 or visit Follow them on Twitter at

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Ramada Inn in downtown Phoenix is days from demolition

Read the Downtown Voices Coalition’s position on the demolition of the hotel here and here.

There will be a public hearing to allow a use permit for an interim parking lot on the site this Thursday, August 12, at 9:00 am. It will be held at Phoenix City Hall, 200 W. Washington St. 1st Floor, Assembly Room C.  More information can be found here.  A meeting agenda has been posted here.

[Source: Emily Gersema in the Arizona Republic]

Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic

Workers have been stripping recyclable items such as doors and wiring from the 175-room Ramada Inn at First and Taylor streets in downtown Phoenix to prepare the site for a parking lot.

A Phoenix group of concerned residents and business leaders, Downtown Voices Coalition, tried for several months to stop the demolition, arguing the hotel, once known as the Sahara Motor Inn, was a historic site and should be preserved.

City Manager David Cavazos has said the demolition is a done deal. Crews demolished part of the motel in May.

DEMOLITION: Jeremy Legg, Phoenix economic development program manager, said this phase costs about $700,000. Workers will begin razing the remaining buildings later this month.

PARKING: Legg said after the site is razed, workers will turn it into a parking lot, which could be opened to handle overflow from the nearby Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

NEXT STEP: Within two or three years, Arizona State University hopes to expand its downtown Phoenix campus to include a new building at the site for a new College of Law. The state budget crisis has forced ASU to wait for funding.