At SRP, sustainability happens every day - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

At SRP, sustainability happens every day

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• Debbie Kimberly is director of customer programs and marketing for Salt River Project.

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Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 3:45 pm | Updated: 3:54 pm, Thu Jun 14, 2012.

Along with delivering reliable power and water to the Valley for more than 100 years, SRP provides information, programs and strategies for customers to conserve these vital resources. The result is often happy customers who have reduced their bills while lessening their impact on the environment.

But it’s just as important for a utility like SRP to do the same. At SRP, we look for the newest technologies to reduce our own carbon footprint, and our goal is to find new ways to conserve energy and water at our facilities throughout the Valley.

From planting desert landscaping around our various buildings to replacing rooftops with green, energy efficient material, SRP is always looking for ways to save.

For example, with large industrial buildings, there are numerous caulking joints that keep the building weather tight. We recently visited our sites to install new caulking where needed, which keeps the heat out and the cold air in.

We have applied tint to windows where beneficial, mostly in areas where employees let us know the sunlight is raising temperatures in their area. Tinting is important because it stops the radiant heat from infiltrating the building. We have also installed and replaced window blinds in our buildings, which also reduces the heat from the sun.

While we encourage our customers to replace their burned-out lights with more energy-efficient CFLs, we have done the same. When lights go out, we replace them with the latest, low-wattage bulbs. They provide the same amount of light output with reduced usage in watts.

Finally, as we have implemented our regularly scheduled roof replacements on our facilities, we have done so with green, cool roofs. Made of a compound that is UV resistant and reflective, these roofs don’t contain the old oil and tar material they used to have in the past so they don’t absorb as much heat and more heat bounces off, saving SRP in energy costs.

Just to name a few more initiatives:

• The fuel usage of our fleet is down by about 10 percent due to fuel reduction tactics such as utilizing GPS and active route planning, eliminating unnecessary trips and performing regular maintenance including tune-ups and maintaining correct tire pressure.

• To date SRP has re-directed 4,000 tons of waste by doing things such as auctioning old computers on eBay.

• We have installed solar photovoltaic systems on some of our facilities, and our newest building, the Pinal Call Center in the far East Valley, is LEED certified.

• Currently 195 employees participate in our employee vanpool program traveling in 25 vanpools covering distances from 20 to 55 miles. We also encourage employees to carpool and utilize mass transit.

• Installing smart meters (which are operated, read and maintained remotely) contributes greatly to reduced miles on the road and reduced emissions.

As Rudy Aguallo, director of facilities services, puts it, “For us, it’s a culture. It’s what we do every day. When we replace equipment, we evaluate each piece to see what can result in more energy savings for us.”

• Debbie Kimberly is director of customer programs and marketing for Salt River Project.

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