Plan strikes balance between economic development and protection of environment

The Pima County Board of Supervisors recently adopted a new five-year sustainability plan that seeks to achieve a “balance between economic development, social well-being and environmental protection to ensure the needs of current generations can be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

“Pima County is leading the way when it comes to sustainability,” said Sharon Bronson, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman. “These efforts are saving the county money, helping make our employees healthier and reducing the county’s impact on the environment.”

The Supervisors first adopted a five-year sustainability plan in 2008. That plan saved the county more than $7 million in energy costs, partly due to an emphasis on energy efficiency and tripling the amount of renewable energy production. The county also more than doubled the number of parks watered with reclaimed water and increased the purchase of eco-friendly office supplies by 318 percent.

“Pima County demonstrates that a dynamic fully engaged sustainability program can lead to institutional changes that generate financial savings, habitat protection and sound resource management,” Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said.

The new five-year plan will build on the success of the 2008-2013 sustainability plan, which other counties across the country have used as a model for developing their own sustainability plans. Among the goals for the 2014-2019 plan are:

•Hold the line on the county’s carbon footprint so that for fiscal year 2019, the county’s carbon footprint is no bigger than it is was for fiscal year 2014 (which ended June 30).

•Add another 4 megawatts of solar to its renewable energy portfolio (currently the county has 7MW of production capacity).

•Use 80 percent of the biogas created at the county’s wastewater treatment plants by FY 2019.

•Reduce the water use in terms of gallons per square foot in county buildings by 10 percent by FY 2019. Require all new county-funded buildings designed after June 30, 2008, and building additions greater than 5,000 square feet to implement LEED elements sufficient to obtain 50 or more LEED points.

• Require 100 percent of new county contracts to include green specifications by FY 2019.

• Seek to reduce the number of county employees who are self-reported tobacco users from 33 percent to 15 percent by January 2019.

The plan is broken into nine action areas with each action area having defined goals, baselines to determine success and implementation timelines for achieving those goals. As it did with the first five-year plan, the county will publish annual reports tracking the plan’s progress. The nine action areas are:

• Minimizing Carbon Footprint

• Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

• Green Building

• Alternative Fuel Vehicles

• Water Conservation

• Land Conservation

• Waste Reduction

• Green Purchasing

• Health and Wellness

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