27th Avenue Compost Facility

Phoenix’s 27th Avenue Compost Facility Earns Envision Silver Award

Phoenix’s 27th Avenue Compost Facility is the recent recipient of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) Envision Silver verification. The Envision system rates sustainable infrastructure across the full range of environmental, social, and economic impacts. The 27th Avenue Compost Facility is the first solid waste infrastructure project in the United States, and the first in Arizona, to earn the prestigious Envision recognition.

The City of Phoenix set a goal of 40% waste reduction from landfills by 2020, which is part of a larger city sustainability goal to achieve zero waste by 2050. When completed, the Compost Facility will be capable of processing up to 110,000 tons of green and food waste per year, resulting in an estimated 11% reduction of waste being sent to the city landfills. The city plans to implement a second phase to the facility, which will allow it to double its composting program from 110,000 tons per year to 220,000.

Organizations involved in the design and construction of this state-of-the-art facility include the City of Phoenix (owner); Arrington Watkins Architects, Green Mountain Technologies, and Dibble Engineering (project design team); Brycon Construction (project design team and constructor); and HDR (lead Envision sustainability facilitator). All partners collaborated at the earliest stages of design to enhance the sustainability of this facility.

“Phoenix has authored one of the most remarkable sustainability turnaround stories in the country, and our new composting facility starts an important new chapter. Opening this facility will help us reach our ambitious waste reduction goals while building our circular economy. This award is a testament to our partners and their commitment to make Phoenix one of the most sustainable and resilient cities in the world.”

– Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix

Created in 2012 through a collaboration between ISI and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, the Envision system rates the impact of sustainable infrastructure projects as a whole. The ISI Envision system measures sustainability in five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Natural World, Resource Allocation, and Climate and Risk. These key areas contribute to the positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community.

The 27th Avenue Compost Facility earned high scores in the Leadership, Natural World, and Climate and Risk categories. Key sustainable accomplishments of the project include:

Leadership: Sustainability is a core value of the City of Phoenix, as well as the consortium of firms engaged in this project. In fact, all key organizations involved in this project signed a formal commitment to pursuing an Envision award for this project, which bound each organization to working cooperatively and proactively to reach this goal.

The Envision framework, in addition to aligning the project with the city’s goal to achieving a 40% reduction of waste to landfill by 2020, guided the planning and design process for the 27th Avenue Compost Facility. Also, by using the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) construction delivery method, the city connected the contractor and design team to develop the most efficient and sustainable composting system. This teamwork and collaboration involving all parties, including design and Envision workshops, was central to the project’s success.

The nature of the Compost Facility is to reduce waste by turning food waste and green waste, a by-product of landscape operations, into a new material resource—compost, which will be sold to landscapers and used by the city to maintain its parks. Furthermore, this facility is not only a key component in the city’s waste reduction plans, but it is also a key piece of Phoenix’s new Resource Innovation Campus.

Natural World: The 27th Avenue Compost Facility has been designed with a storm drain system that will harvest all runoff water that falls on the site, as well as any water that is pumped in and used onsite. Once water is harvested, it is stored onsite and reused in the composting process, ensuring the project eliminates the negative impacts of infrastructure on stormwater runoff quantity and quality.

Although the project is located in an industrial area, landscaping components are being introduced at the site. The landscape design for this project is composed of only native and desert adaptive plant species, none of which require management through chemical applications.

This project also preserves greenfields, since 100% of the project’s developed area is located on a greyfield (a previously developed site).

Climate and Risk: The Compost Facility has been designed to be both resilient and adaptive. Plans and designs have been added to this project for long-term climate change, including managing a 100-year flood event within the existing on-site water detention pond, redeveloping an existing well-head site to provide a cheaper and more reliable source of non-potable water for the facility’s use, and designing the project for future installation of solar equipment. These features will also offer significant savings to tax payers.

The project includes plans to mitigate several short-term hazards in the area, including flash flooding; extreme, short-duration dust storms caused by strong winds; and compost fires. It is also designed to reduce air pollutant emissions, meeting both the California Ambient Air Quality Standards and applicable South Coast Air Quality Management Standards.

“The 27th Avenue Compost Facility‘s closed-loop system will serve the City of Phoenix and neighboring communities for years to come. The sustainable benefits associated with this project are numerous, including a significant waste diversion from landfill, which will help the city achieve its 40% waste reduction goal by the year 2020,” said ISI President and CEO John Stanton. “ISI is pleased to present the City of Phoenix with the Envision Silver award for sustainable infrastructure.”

The awards ceremony was attended by Mayor Stanton, Phoenix City Council members and several sustainability and industry leaders, who applauded the public-private partnerships, the efficient management of the project and the impact of this facility to the local economy. The Mayor and City Council members also commended the leadership of John Trujillo, Phoenix Public Works director, who will be retiring at the end of April. The more than 100 guests at the ribbon-cutting event were offered to take an up-close look at the new facility’s equipment and composting processes.

To learn more about the 27th Avenue Compost Facility, please visit phoenix.gov/publicworks.

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