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Phoenix Aims For Carbon Neutrality

Phoenix is looking to arise anew – as the nation’s first carbon-neutral city.

Other cities around the world, such as Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, have been leading the charge, so it’s nice to see a major metro area in the U.S. taking a role. But is it feasible? Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon says indeed it is.

Mayor Gordon’s $1 billion, 17-point plan, "Green Phoenix," includes:
  • Enlisting residents in a pilot program that installs solar panels on their homes for free
  • Added usage of Phoenix’s new light-rail system
  • Building the city’s first solar power plant
  • Making city buildings LEED compliant
  • Painting rooftops white to reflect the sun and reduce “heat-island” effect
  • Using high-efficiency lighting in public places
  • Expanding recycling programs
  • Developing the city’s canal system for green-friendly transport
  • Cleaning up brownfield sites

The specific numbers being talked about -- such as adding as many as 6,000 green jobs and reducing annual CO2 emissions from 25.5 million metric tons to 430,000 -- are impressive, though not exactly “carbon neutral” – Green Phoenix is in partnership with Arizona State, so I asked Dr. Rob Melnick, Executive Dean, Global Institute of Sustainability and Presidential Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, for more details. Dr. Melnick says,

Green Phoenix is a comprehensive program to make Phoenix and potentially its neighboring cities especially sustainable. It will create a "lighthouse effect" and act as a model for other cities around the nation and the world that seek to improve their sustainability, reduce their carbon footprint, and improve the quality of life for the people who live and work there.

Collectively, the programs described in Green Phoenix would put the city of Phoenix on a sharp trajectory toward carbon neutrality.

One of the most important features of Green Phoenix is the partnership between Arizona State University and the city of Phoenix. The university's knowledge and innovation, coupled with the city's knowledge and excellent reputation in management, make the ingredients for a highly successful program.

What that sounds like to me is that while strict carbon neutrality may not be in the cards, at least within immediate plans, the steps being taken will get Phoenix pretty darn close.

It’s an amazing initiative – we can only hope it unfolds as planned. We’ll keep an eye on it, and on whether it influences some of our other Captivate markets to follow suit.

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“Phoenix Aims For Carbon Neutrality”