Recycling and Other Green Initiatives Saving ‘Green’ at Maricopa County

Posted By Mike Padgett

July 20, 2009


PHOENIX, Ariz. – More than 300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions have been avoided by using biodiesel fuel in Maricopa County‘s fleet operations.  Well over 360 tons of paper have been recycled this year and even more materials will be diverted from the landfill because of an expanding recyclables program. The largest energy audit in Arizona is underway with 133 separate county buildings being analyzed for potential energy and water savings.

All are the early accomplishments of a sweeping environmental program by the county government. The five county supervisors were briefed on the initiative, “Green Government Program,” Monday by Assistant County Manager Joy Rich and Sustainability Manager Jonce Walker.

“We are excited about the county’s efforts in the Green Government Program,” said County Supervisors’ Chairman Max Wilson.  “The board is committed to advancing regional sustainability and achieving a cleaner, healthier and higher quality Maricopa County.”

“The goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, save energy, save money, and operate in a more environmentally sensitive manner,” Walker said. “There is a lot we have already accomplished but there is always more we can do. By sharing our ideas among many departments, we can develop and implement plans that work – and ‘green’ our operations.”

An interdepartmental task force, the Green Government Council, headed by Rich, has identified 16 action steps and 124 specific measures to address air quality, carbon footprint, land use, recycling, materials reuse, transportation and energy efficiency.  County Manager David Smith has linked the green government initiative with specific performance measurements in order to evaluate progress.

The program has taken a series of small steps, many borrowed from other public and private agencies but all part of a comprehensive pattern of an energy-saving and environmentally-friendly strategy.  They include:

• Janitorial and custodial service use “green” cleaning supplies wherever possible.

• The Joe Foss Shooting Range (also known as Buckeye Hills Shooting Range) demonstrates the county’s  commitment to energy conservation. This new facility is completely off the grid, powered by a 110 kW photovoltaic solar system. The remote location had no electric service.

• Hybrid-preferred parking spaces at four county locations.

• The nature center at Estrella Mountain Regional Park was completed using LEED standards for sustainability. The 4,000-square-foot building’s garden roof system will insulate the building and reduce runoff. The Estrella nature center serves as a prototype for other environmentally friendly structures at other parks.

• The Environmental Services Department will replace 50 percent of its fleet with alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles by 2012.

• The Transportation Agency of Public Works will allocate $3 million each year to the paving of dirt roads and roadway shoulders to reduce dust emissions.

• Public advertising advancing environmentally friendly messages through outdoor kiosks and signage.

“We have great hopes that the county will find cost savings to the taxpayers through this program, as well as job creation in the sustainable energy area,“ District 2 Supervisor Don Stapley said.

The council has also placed a high priority on using its website,, as a teaching tool for residents. The website includes a wide array energy-saving and environmentally-sensitive tips for home, work, school and the road. A complete listing of the Green Government Council’s plans, goals and performance measures are available on the same website.

For more information, contact Jonce Walker at the county at 602-372-0875.

Jul 20th, 2009

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