What’s Green About This Workplace?

Pima County Government is going “green” and reducing government operating expenses at the same time. Since the Board of Supervisors adopted a far-reaching Sustainability Resolution in May 2007, County employees have achieved measurable improvements in the sustainability and efficiency of County government operations.

• Solar Smart Facilities. Pima County built the largest 1 megawatt polycrystalline photovoltaic solar array in Southern Arizona. With the completion of this facility earlier this year, County facilities now receive 5% of their energy from clean, renewable sources. Many other solar projects are now in the planning stage and once they are on-line, the County’s utility bills will be cut by about $552,000 a year!

• Green Fleet Vehicles. One-fourth of the County’s fleet vehicles now use alternative fuels (that’s 291 out of 1141 vehicles). The goal is to have at least 50% of the regular fleet run on alternatives fuels by 2017.

• Healthy Indoor Work Environments. The County uses many “green” products when designing new workstations. All finishes and materials from paints to flooring have low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content. Furniture is re- usable, ergonomically correct, and many products contain recycled content. Office spaces are designed to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Green Seal carpet tiles reduce noise, absorb shock and can be reused during renovation projects.

•Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. Pima County launched its “Recycle While You Work Campaign” in January 2009, increasing the County’s recycling program from 10 to 80 facilities. County Departments have cut their waste streams by almost 30% since Fiscal Year 2008, saving tens of thousands of dollars in waste hauling and landfill tipping fees. The County also manages a surplus property program that recycled more than 6,000 pieces of furniture and equipment over a three-year period in cooperation with 13 non-profit organizations.

• Energy Conservation. The County is engaged in a variety of energy saving activities, which resulted in a savings of $1.2 million during this past fiscal year. Programs to reduce energy expenses include encouraging the use of 26 videoconference stations rather than travel to off-site meetings; turning off heating and cooling systems after regular business hours; eliminating
unnecessary appliances at work stations; changing janitorial shifts to daytime hours; and retrofitting old lights and equipment with new energy-saving models.

• Water Conservation. The County cut water use in the County’s 39 urban parks by 20% compared to the baseline year of 2006. The County also saves potable (drinking) water by using reclaimed water at 10 parks and for landscaping along three roadways. In addition, stormwater harvesting and County-owned effluent are used to recharge groundwater, increase riparian habitat, and provide for public recreation. The County also incorporates water-conserving fixtures in new construction and remodeling projects.

• Green Construction. The County designs and builds all new occupied facilities to achieve a minimum standard of LEED Silver under the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system. The County’s recently-completed Sullivan Jackson Employment Center surpassed this standard, achieving LEED GOLD! New roadways are also built with “green” in mind: when possible, roads are paved with concrete made from recycled tires, salvaged native plants are used for landscaping, and roadway “footprints” are reduced under the County’s Environmentally Sensitive Roadway Design Guidelines.

• Carbon Footprint Reduction. With the aggressive implementation of all of the County’s sustainability initiatives, the County forecasts that it will actually generate less greenhouse gas in the year 2020 than in the year 2007.

To learn more about the County’s sustainability activities, please see the Sustainable Action Plan for County Operations and the Year Two Sustainability Report Card at www.pima.gov. Comments and suggestions are always welcome and may be directed to the Pima County Sustainability Steering Committee, attention Tedra Fox, at tedra.fox@pima.gov.