There is a dearth of documented sustainability best practices for urban systems in arid and semi-arid environment. This includes the sectors of sustainable energy, water, waste management, urban forestry, food systems, transportation and health. Practitioners and policy makers in Arizona seek best practices and case studies to draw information from and for comparative purposes for improved decision making. In this applied course students collaborate with stakeholders from cities and municipalities to document and analyze best practices, draft case studies and provide insight on a variety of sustainability topics. Students collaborate with and shadow selected officials to design, explore, verify and disseminate activities that are being currently implemented and have not been documented. Using standardized practices, this highly collaborative work forms the basis of the cities’ real time case studies and best practices in any chosen sector.
Urban Sustainability Applications is a graduate and senior level course offered in Fall 2014 by the School of Sustainability and taught by Dr. Nalini Chhetri and advised by Anne Reichman. The following are the final deliverables and presentation materials that were completed at the conclusion of the Fall 2014 semester. Two presentations were given at the School of Sustainability Open House: Engaging With Cities Luncheon.
City of Mesa: A Permanent Facility for Household Hazardous Waste
The City of Mesa approached ASU’s Urban Sustainability Best Practices/ Case Studies course led by Dr. Nalini Chhetri at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability to assist them in exploring the feasibility of a permanent Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility. The City believes there are economic and environmental opportunities.
City of Mesa: Low Impact Development
Conventional stormwater management has several drawbacks including high costs, water pollution, and aesthetic problems that low impact development (LID) attempts to address. The City of Mesa, Arizona has embraced LID despite the absence of an extensive track record in desert climates. Through personal interviews with key people and a review of current literature, this study highlights the City’s experience with LID, focusing on the benefits, barriers, lessons, future outlook, and a LID toolkit that Mesa hopes will advance the prospects of LID locally and eventually throughout arid regions.
City of Tucson: Low Impact Development
Low impact development (LID) has become a promising paradigm for the environmental, social, and economic externalities of conventional stormwater management, which include pollution, high cost, and unsightly infrastructure. Those externalities, however, are not always accounted for in comparisons and the benefits of LID are likewise sometimes difficult to monetize and make tangible for decision makers. As arid cities like Tucson embrace LID, they are finding that a strong business case is sometimes hard to make. The feeling of many is that this is not due to the actual economics, which are often favorable, but because of lack of evidence for arid climates and other barriers and the simple need for a new accounting paradigm that includes all potential benefits beyond initial project construction. This case study analyzes the economic situation and available tools, one in particular called the Business Case Evaluator, to frame and give voice to the Tucson contingent of LID advocates that want to advance the city’s standing for progressive infrastructure. Two projects in particular give a focus.
City of Scottsdale: Green Building Program
This project assists the Office of Environmental Initiatives of Scottsdale in exploring leading Green Building and Rooftop Solar Programs to increase the popularity and competitiveness of the Scottsdale program.
Luke Air Force Base: Bioremediation
Luke Air Force Base (LAFB) has improved the traditional methods of Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) contaminated wastewater, in partnership with Continental Research Corporation (Bacto-Treat OWS® and ND-365®) for bioremediation. Through equalized distribution of bacteria into oil water separators (OWSs), holding tanks and grease traps, LAFB has achieved full sustainability of wastewater and eliminated traditional pump and treat methods.The bacteria injection initiated in October 2013 and results documented herewith in, the first year were astounding. By approaching wastewater from a 360-degree approach, wastewater compliance has been made easy, sustainable, and achieved tremendous cost savings.
Walton Sustainability Solutions Service: Feedstock Regionalization and Consolidation
Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives (WSSI) approached ASU’s Urban Sustainability Best Practices course led by Professor Nalini Chhetri in the School of Sustainability to examine regionalization and consolidation of green organic feedstock in the Phoenix area.
Walton Sustainability Solutions Service: Economic Impacts of Energy Disclosure Ordinances
Energy generation and use are at the forefront of the sustainability movement of the 21st century. For solutions, many cities and states are looking to energy efficient buildings as a way to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to city sustainability goals. Thus, they are investigating the benefits and impacts of the development and implementation of Energy Use Disclosure Policy. Our research identified possible economic value drivers, and our analysis determined the benefits, best practices, and challenges involved with these ordinances. City councils and states can use these findings in the development and successful implementation energy rating and disclosure policy.
Walton Sustainability Solutions Service: Creating a Circular Economy for Green Organics
The primary purpose of this paper is to determine the economic impacts of feedstock aggregation of waste streams focusing on “residential green organics,” and the creation of a circular economy in the Phoenix metropolitan area, as well as, other U.S. metropolitan areas. Our research and analysis also determined the benefits, best practices, and challenges involved with green organic waste and a circular economy which will be presented to city councils, public works departments and private companies as explanation and to support states and cities in the development and successful implementation of related policies.
Walton Sustainability Solutions Service: Best Practices, Recycling Diversion and Contamination
The City of Phoenix has aspired to divert at least 40% of waste from the landfill by the year 2020. With increasing climate change impacts from greenhouse gas emissions as well as health hazards and pollution associated with solid waste land-filling, the need to transform how we view and use waste is as pressing as ever. This case study was developed as an initial report to inform such strategy development for Phoenix. We present here an overview of best practices from around the world of cities that have achieved inspiring rates of waste diversion, an initial list of indicators and sustainability targets to help the track its future progress towards goals, and future recommendations for the city of Phoenix.
Recommendations and Best Practices: City of Goodyear Demonstration Garden
Goodyear was established in 1917 by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. It went through several growth periods until it was finally established as a city in 1985. Goodyear has been an industrial city throughout its history, but is currently dealing with groundwater contamination near the Phoenix Goodyear Airport. This land is considered a Superfund site, and creates a barren and deteriorated landscape around the Historic District and City Hall. Crane Company has been working to address the contamination issues. The City of Goodyear sees the cleanup of this site as an opportunity to repurpose the land to address local water issues. Goodyear’s 73,832 residents are currently using 40 to 60% of water for outdoor purposes (Goodyear City Council, 2014). Therefore, the City approached universities and other interested third parties to help them develop a demonstration garden on the Superfund site.
City of Goodyear: Constructed Wetlands for Brine Water Management
With a projected increase in population of 115,300 total residents by 2020 and 167,700 residents by 2030 (City of Goodyear, 2014), the city of Goodyear will need to meet the demands of potable water for its growing community. Given that the city currently depends solely on groundwater to meet this demand and will remain heavily reliant, future pressures of limited supply will require innovative and effective means of treating and reusing this supply throughout the city. In light of these challenges, the City of Goodyear has embarked upon an experimental wetland system as a potential means to treat brine concentrated wastewater to be discharged into surface waters. This brine wastewater is a byproduct of treating brackish groundwater for potable water purposes for Goodyear residents through the process of reverse osmosis (RO). Given the challenges for alternate means of treatment such as thermal driven evaporation processes or deep well injection, constructed wetlands presents an innovative, effective method for not only treating such brine wastewater, but providing a myriad of economic and social additional benefits as well.