Beyond Recycling – Sustainability Day Opens Our Eyes and Minds

33 Nancy Neff Final.jpgBy Nancy Neff
Scottsdale Community College

As Scottsdale Leadership Class 31 filed into the Scottsdale Public Library auditorium to kickoff Sustainability Day, I would venture to guess we were all feeling pretty confident in our day-to-day sustainability efforts. After all, we recycle, right?

Well, it quickly became apparent that there is far more to sustainability than our own individual efforts to separate paper, glass and plastic into the proper recycling barrels.

Thanks to Charlie Popeck, Class 27, president of Green Ideas Building Science Consultants, we learned that sustainability is a continuum driven by awareness, education and systems thinking. We also learned, much to our delight, that Arizona and the City of Scottsdale, are leaders in sustainability. Arizona established a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) chapter in Scottsdale in 2002 and, in 2005, Scottsdale committed that all new city buildings would be built to a LEED Gold Standard.

Charlie pointed out the importance of considering the up-front costs associated with designing high-performance buildings, but also the need to think over the long term in order to protect our environment and meet the needs of future generations. Up-front costs for sustainable, or LEED certified buildings, might be higher, but most of those costs are recouped through energy savings over time.

Dorie Morales, publisher of Green Living AZ Magazine, takes sustainability personally and her family’s efforts can teach us all a few things about saving our environment. She has literally rid her home of toxic chemicals by being purposeful in purchasing organic and natural products for household cleaning, décor, hair/skin care and cooking.

green-livingDid you know that just by pouring a bit of vinegar into your washer’s fabric softener receptacle that you can eliminate the need for toxic dryer sheets? Did you know you can use cedar chips as a natural way to rid your home of scorpions? Thanks to Dorie, now you know.

What simple solutions are you doing, or what can you do to help save our environment for future generations? Or, maybe it’s something you can stop doing…like overseeding your lawn in the winter and using our precious water supply in order to have a green lawn all year round.

Even companies and buildings that have been here for years can change for the benefit of future generations. The General Dynamics building on McDowell Road and Granite Reef was designed and built in the 1950s. A major feature of the building was the lush green lawn that took up a span of space the size of three football fields – just think about the cost of not only watering the lawn in the heat of an Arizona summer, but also over seeding and watering in winter to keep it green.

Fortunately, LEED building is also applicable to existing buildings and a major effort by the General Dynamics Facilities Department was undertaken to transform “the football field” to a natural desert xeriscape that significantly saves water, energy and, ultimately, revenue that can be invested back into the business.

As we think about the future, you can take pride that the City of Scottsdale, in developing its new vision for General Plan 2035, that continuing to expand and enhance sustainability is a key mission. In fact, adoption of the latest energy and green building codes is going before the City Council on Nov. 28.

ken-singhClass 31 ended its Sustainability Day with a visit to a new venture by Ken Singh, owner of Singh Farms. The Singh family has purchased the closed Rio Salado Golf Course – 70 acres of plush land – with plans to transform the space for family use to unwind, relax and enjoy nature in a non-toxic environment. We can’t wait to see how it all comes about and look forward to another visit to the space in the future.

As leaders, what is your personal vision and mission for taking sustainability to the next level and leaving the planet in better condition for our future generations?

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