Caption: Mayor Stanton helps out at a community garden.
Sustainability is a big deal. Empowering a city of 1.45 million people – more than 520 square miles – to live a healthier, more robust, and economically secure lifestyle is no easy task.
Sustainability is the deciding factor that differentiates large cities from great cities. It is the leadership and commitment to sustainability – coupled with great implementation – that drives cities forward.
Our economy, environment, and society are not disparate. Rather, they are inextricably linked and synergistic. Only by bringing these pieces together, can we achieve long-term opportunity.
Rather than simply come up with a checklist of items, I view sustainability as a policy that helps to guide our actions. Our thinking and acting should outlast and transcend any administration; it must be a flexible platform for success…and unify us together as Phoenicians.
Mayor’s Office Senior Policy Adviser on Sustainability
Colin Tetreault serves as senior policy adviser on sustainability. Colin is a business, environment, and community expert that is on loan to Mayor Stanton from Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability. Colin works to create resilient and robust economic opportunity for all; protect and expand environmental & natural systems; foster and grow our beautiful and vibrant pluralistic culture.
Reimagine Phoenix Goals
The City of Phoenix, its residents, business, and industries produce enough solid waste to fill Chase Field to the top, 14 times, every year. Much of this material is recyclable, reusable and valuable. The Reimagine Phoenix initiative will dramatically raise the citywide goal of diverting 40 percent of all waste from landfills by the year 2020. Reimagine Phoenix will more than triple the rate of recycling for the entire city; however, it sets the stage for a transformation on how waste is fundamentally viewed and handled.
Reimagine Phoenix will create and advance several key components that will have a positive impact on the local economy and elevate the protection of our natural environment.
1. Provide Education, Choice, & Opportunity
- Education: Provide greater education and awareness as to the choices available on how to dispose of, recycle, or compost material through partnerships with private industry and academia;
- Choice: Develop a program that rewards residents and businesses who embrace practices that minimize waste production and maximizes collection of recyclables;
- Opportunity: Champion expanded service for multifamily, commercial, and industrial entities that want to participate in recycling and diversion programs.
2. Change the Conversation
- Innovation: Create a collaborative Center of Excellence with industry and academic partners that will identify new and emerging solutions to solid waste;
- INew business opportunities: By viewing solid waste in a new light and working with industry partners and academia, new business opportunities will be created around materials resource and recovery.
3. Protect our Assets
- Natural Assets: By increasing the amount of recycling and waste diversion, the city will further protect the natural environment surrounding Phoenix;
- Cost Savings: By increasing recycling, the city will extend the life span of its existing landfill assets, there by delaying future new investments funded by customers.
Bike Share Program
Creating an enhanced multi-modal transportation system in our city requires options that go beyond roads and public transportation. Starting in December of 2013, Phoenix will have a Bike Share program.
These options must also include bicycle and pedestrian improvements. A Bike Share program, where residents and visitors rent a bicycle to complete a trip, is a critical improvement to our city’s overall transportation network. The Bike Share program will provide the following benefits to our city:
- Increase Access to Business and Cultural Opportunities
- Cleaner air with more trips being completed with zero-carbon emissions
- Maximize the investments in our bus and light-rail system by furthering its reach.
- Some people will only walk a particular distance to utilize public transit, but BikeShare extends the distance someone is willing to travel to reach a transit stop extending the reach of the transit system to more residents and businesses.
- Provide a mode of transportation that encourages public health by providing a means for people to be more active.
PHX Renews Program
Vacant lots are a minus for our city. They hurt the morale of neighborhoods and too often become targets for vandalism and graffiti. By working creatively with non-profits, the business community, and the community, we can turn them into a plus. PHX Renews will create an urban fabric that is rich with community and business driven uses of land that, on a temporary basis, provide access to and education of the natural environment, foster community engagement and sense of place, and act as an catalyst for smarter and more sophisticated urban and economic development.
Together with Keep Phoenix Beautiful, Barron Collier Companies and community leaders, we opened PHX Renews - a major project in November of 2012 that’s transforming a 15-acre vacant lot in central Phoenix into a sustainable public space. PHX Renews is the largest transformation of vacant land happening in the country and sits in the heart of Phoenix on the northeast corner of Indian School Road and Central Avenue, at the historic Steele Indian School Park.
The goals of PHX Renews are:
- Provide a mechanism for creative use of vacant spaces in the city;
- Positive community impact (reduction in crime, reduction in health concerns, increased property values);
- Act as a catalyst for more permanent, smart, and sophisticated development solutions for local businesses.
These are the projects happening right now at PHX Renews:
- Urban community farming supporting local non-profits, communities and Valley refugees
- Sustainable technology to improve energy, water and food cultivation
- Outdoor education space for local schools with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
- Office focusing on environmental science programs
- Job skills and vocational training for clients of service organizations
- Educational opportunities for nearby schools and community members teaching everything from small urban gardening, recycling, wise energy and water use to alternative transportation
- Large community art displays and cultural projects
- Creative use of play and social spaces
During the next 18 months and beyond, PHX Renews will evolve as a community-driven effort showing how citizens, nonprofits, businesses, and organizations can work with the city to shape the future of their community. We need to make it easier to get city approval for more projects like this in Downtown Phoenix and light rail areas.
Sustainability Advisory Committee
I appointed a group of citizen leaders – from diverse backgrounds – to counsel me and my staff on issues of sustainability within the city and beyond.
In May of 2012, I launched the nation’s largest rooftop solar program in a city. Together with the Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and the National Bank AZ, we launched a $25 million program to enable homeowners to have solar panels on their homes. This nation-leading program helps to reduce dependence on foreign energy, keep homeowners’ bills low, and protect our environment.
We have worked together to advance the city’s energy portfolio:
- We received $50,000 to advance are already great work on installing “Cool Roofs” on our city buildings to reduce our energy bills.
- We have installed more than 15 million square feet of commercial and 700 residential unit upgrades on energy efficiency under our Energize Phoenix program.
- We’ve hit more than 15 megawatts of solar power for the city generation, thereby keeping our costs low and reducing our environmental impact.
- We adopted the most recent energy code for new home construction, ensuring that homeowners can keep money in their pocket and not to paying for a comfortable house.
- We became a part of the Department of Energy’s “Better Building Challenge” to save 20 percent on our building energy costs.
Our city has a big portfolio when it comes to transportation. I have worked hard to ensure that we are doing the best in an efficient manner, focusing on reducing our costs and our environmental impacts, while providing great service to our community.
- We launched the PHX Sky Train at Sky Harbor International Airport
- Our buses and light rail have exceeded every rider projection, while operating in a more efficient manner each year.
- Our Solid Waste fleet, one of the largest in the nation, is converting all of its fleet to CNG, thereby saving the city over $2 million a year at build out and reducing our environmental impact.
Innovation and Planning
By thinking ahead in a progressive and innovative way, we are able to ensure the success of our city for generations to come.
- We were a finalist for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Grant with our idea to create “the smartest energy city in the world.”
- I spent time sharing our story and attracting opportunities to Phoenix at the NY Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference in April 2013.
- We are nearing completion of a sustainability training program for all of our city employees that will help us continue to steward taxpayer resources well and think creatively about our shared future.
I believe that sustainability is imperative for our city to be competitive and robust in the future. I will continue to advance sustainability, in its many forms, through the city.