Tempe Aiming to be First Fully Green City in Arizona

Tempe, AZ has set some ambitious goals to meet in the upcoming years – starting within the next 17 to be exact. Expanding on its 2014 goal to use renewable energy only in 20% of its buildings by 2025, the City Council recently voted to be at 100% by 2025. According to Tempe sources, they are at approximately 10% of their initial 20% goal. They also approved the lofty goal of being at a complete carbon neutrality by the year 2050 – only 20 years after they intend to be a city run completely with green energy.

The Tempe City Council has quite the spokesperson on the issue with Councilwoman Lauren Kuby taking the helm of the measure. She points out that the United Nations has released studies on the issue, and that according to the UN, cities are a leader in creating the pollution and the current carbon footprint. Cities put out approximately 70% of the waste that contributes to the issue. Following that logic, she and the Tempe City Council feel that cities should be leaders in at least minimizing if not reducing that damage. “Cities are about 70 percent of the problem when it comes to carbon emissions,” Kuby said. “Cities need to be 70 percent of the solution.”

Tempe has used solar panels to get to 10% of their buildings to renewable energy status. Though it is likely that the continued use of solar panels will allow them to hit their initial goal of 20%, it is unlikely that they can achieve much more then that without looking into and developing more of the renewable solar and even hydro-powered utility providers. Since renewable energy is still growing and developing, the way that Tempe will start integrating it into more and more of its buildings is hard to foresee. Kuby seems confident that the city will be able to keep up with the technology and their goals within the budget they have already set for the goals.

Tempe has been successful so far by understanding the basics of going green. They understand that before switching the buildings to renewable energy sources, they have to first make the buildings as energy efficient as possible. In order to sustain the renewable energy effectiveness on the outside world, that first step is vital. Once the buildings are as energy efficient as possible, then they can be powered with solar panels, hydro-power – some form of renewable energy. Going with basics first has enable Tempe to be on top of the green movement.

Councilwoman Kuby also points out that it is not just a victory for the renewable energy/going green factions. The project will bring more jobs to the area as they transition into clean energy systems. Also, switching to renewable energy will attract bigger companies, bring more industries to the area and help to bring better and more affordable energy to all Tempe residents. Kuby and the City Council are also quick to point out that reducing the pollution in the air will only benefit everyone in the Tempe area, especially children.

Kuby is adamant in stating that Tempe’s plans are not a list of must-dos, or a map to follow implicitly. They understand that by setting these goals, they are simply agreeing to a shared vision for the city and striving to meet those goals in the quickest and best ways possible. 

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