What kind of model is Phoenix for 21 st Century Sustainable Cities?

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1 What kind of model is Phoenix for 21 st Century Sustainable Cities? Jonathan Fink, Director Center for Sustainability Science Applications Arizona State University Brownfields 2009 Conference New Orleans, November 18, 2009

2 Characteristics of a fast growing, arid city Phoenix is the fastest growing and 5th largest big city in U.S. Typical Sun Belt sprawling growth style ( drive till you qualify ) Relatively young, modern, and clean infrastructure and industry Infill has not made economic sense until recently Brownfields caused by electronics leaks begun in the 1970s Real Estate Industrial Complex dominates Phoenix business Strong correlation between air/water pollution and poverty

3 Phoenix is dealing with problems today that other global cities will confront in the future Water shortages due to consumptive lifestyles and low prices Heat island effect caused by hot climate and built environment Immigrants fleeing poverty and environmental degradation Auto based economy vulnerable to high fuel costs Current lack of renewable energy generation Food, fuel, and water supplies transported long distances

4 Metro Phoenix s planning must integrate across sectors, disciplines and cities Lack of regional governance a significant challenge Overlapping state, federal, tribal and local jurisdictions Local companies have clout in civic planning Arizona State University is a major economic and political player

5 University role in regional planning unusually strong in Phoenix Arizona State University (ASU) only research university in region ASU a thought leader for new and green economic reforms New publicly funded campus revitalizing downtown Phoenix Major federal grants for studies of rapid urbanization Urban focus led to world s first School of Sustainability and panuniversity Global Institute of Sustainability

6 ASU contributions to greening of Phoenix Decision Theater is policy link between city and university ASU prepared $75M Green Phoenix proposal to US DOE Sustainable City Network involves managers from all cities Customized research for urban sustainability solutions Renewable energy: Solar and algae based biofuels Energy efficiency: Building and neighborhood redesigns Heat island effect mitigation: New materials and strategies

7 Decision Theater is policy interface with Phoenix Non experts can explore future policy options Applies to environmental, social and economic issues State agencies, cities, private sector users Major emphasis on improved water decision making Global network being considered: DC, Dubai, Beijing

8 Decision Center for a Desert City Powell Equalizations Lake Mead, Lake Powell, and the Seven States Plan 2006 Powell Volume Powell Evaporation Copy 2 of Upper Basin Use Upper Basin Consumption CO Beginning of Drought Index Volume Powell Future - Historical Sw itch CO Drought Factor Max Powell storage Volume Thresholds Predicted Powell Powell Overflow UC Shortage Predicted Powell Upper Basin Flow Upper Basin Allocation CO Drought Multiplier CO Number Drought Years Rule to use Upper Consumption during shortfall Drought Factor LeesFerryInflow Copy of P ow e ll to Mead Colorado Index Year Seven States Rule Balance Amount Powell Watershed Holding Supply Projected Natural Flow Mead Copy of Mead watershed Colorado Random Flow Return to Starting Page Colorado mean Colorado sd Colorado AER $7.5M National Science Foundation grant Addresses water decision making under uncertainty Regional stakeholders engaged from start to finish Decision Theater helps them assess alternative futures Also applies to air pollution, energy, traffic, labor issues Can be applied to entire Colorado River Basin Same approach used to compare Beijing and Phoenix

9 Dynamic Water Supply and Demand Model W E T D R Y Watershed Simulation Climate Change Land Use & Population Policy Tradeoffs Groundwater Sustainability More technical Less Technical Slider bars on graphs let alternate futures be assessed in real time WaterSim also available online at

10 Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability deal with complex tradeoffs Urban heat island example Mitigation requires more vegetation and water Vegetation lowers local temperatures and air conditioning demand Power generation in AZ uses lots of water Planting trees and lawns may actually result in a net saving of water Land use example Most agriculture in Metro Phoenix is cotton farming Cotton uses large amounts of water Converting farms to houses results in net increase in available water However, converting desert to houses reduces available water

11 Phoenix as a 21 st Century Sustainable City Every city faces sustainability challenges Success depends on how adaptive and resilient they are Complexity of tradeoffs requires an integrated systems approach Phoenix can choose to ignore challenges or embrace them Phoenix could be source of policy solutions for cities worldwide Energy, water, heat, food, immigration are crucial issues Universities are under utilized policy assets in most cities Sustainable cities will be those that learn from each other

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