How Phoenix Can Become a Carbon Neutral City

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The city of Phoenix is working towards its environmental and sustainable goal of becoming a carbon neutral city, operating on 100 percent clean energy. It is imperative to make an impact but the commission needs the people of Phoenix’s help.

“We welcome and are eager to hear from our fantastic colleagues, and the public about issues that may be important to them regarding environmental quality or sustainability,” said Colin Tetreault, Environment Quality and Sustainability Commission (EQSC) Chair.

The community of Phoenix has a desired goal of improving the quality of life, while also strengthening nature. In 2016 the Phoenix City Council embraced a plethora of environmental sustainability long-term goals, while also planning a few additional short to mid-term goals for the year 2025.

“We need to look for opportunity with important change,” said Sarah Porter, EQSC commissioner.

The commission is focused on what would best benefit the community and how they could aid in achieving these short-term goals brought forth in a presentation by the Office of Sustainability. 

“This is a really early perspective of what actions we are actually going to go to the public and stakeholders with,” said Mark Hartman, City of Phoenix Sustainability Officer.

Electric utility, new buildings, existing buildings and active transportation are the four umbrellas that will push the city of Phoenix to become a carbon neutral city. For these four buckets, there were actions presented that are seemingly necessary in order to hit target goals.

The question asked is how can we support utilities while at the same time decarbonize electric supply? Hartman had an abundance of ideas for the commission in order to answer this question.

Electric utilities are getting the power to homes, business’ and the likes. Hartman suggested that in order to improve the sustainability aspect of these companies it must be “advocated for options that allow customers to purchase renewable energy from the utility”.  It is also important to applaud utility efforts to decarbonize the grid so that the companies feel the work isn’t going unnoticed. Lastly, it is important to support utility effort to address the duck curve. An example of this includes encouraging daytime charging at work places. 

“Our ambitions for the city to become carbon neutral are a steeper curve then what the utilities current integrated resource plants are,” said Hartman. 

The next topic is regarding the new buildings. All of the new buildings will be “net-positive, when looking at the energy and materials being used. This means the buildings will produce more energy than being used. The city will do this by utilizing highly insulated wall assemblies and onsite renewable energy. More ideas that will help is Ev charging stations, solar, incentivize sustainable homes, builder incentive’s and building code enforcement.

The commission doesn’t want to only improve future buildings but the buildings that already exist. They plan to do this by promoting Home Energy Ratings System (HERS score), incentivizing home Audits and incentivizing key solutions. 

Hartman gave the commissioners insight into ideas that have not yet been implemented in the state of Arizona. He went on to talk about the windows of Arizona.

 “There are windows with low solar emission that have not reached Phoenix,” said Hartman.

To get this type of window in Arizona one must special order it which can be very costly. Hartman wants to find a way to get these windows to Phoenix without breaking the bank.

Transportation is a big topic in any city, the most frequented transportation tends to be cars. By expanding the urban walking code, implementing tree and shade master plan or even the grid bikes, it is felt that the community would be more inclined to get out of their cars. 

The commissioners of the Environmental Quality and Sustainability commission seem eager to create better, more natural, more sustainable living conditions for the city of Phoenix. Although the commission is ready to make a change, it can’t do it without the community’s help and willingness to make these changes and reach the short term and eventually long-term goals. 

“Our 2025 goal is achievable, but we must take actions,” said Hartman.

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