January 28, 2016

In 2015, Rio Verde – a private community located 40 miles northeast of Phoenix – earned the Green Community Award and was designated as the first Certified Sustainable Community in Arizona by Audubon International, a non-profit environmental education organization. Rio Verde was the first community in the Western United States and the second private community in the country to earn this award for its sustainable initiatives. To become certified, properties must develop and implement practices and policies according to a community-driven Long Term Sustainability Plan that has measurable goals and timelines addressing 15 key areas, including water conservation, wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, energy efficiency, and transportation.Rio-Verde-Community-Center-Xeriscape

To preserve their award recognition and continue to improve sustainability practices, Rio Verde Community Association is implementing new initiatives and measuring initial progress towards its chosen sustainability targets. The community’s current initiatives include native desert landscaping, local food sourcing for on-site dining facilities, “smart” irrigation controllers installed throughout the community, and a solar-powered community center. The Rio Verde Country Club utilizes reclaimed wastewater for irrigation, and landscaping crews use integrated pest management. The Rio Verde Community is also considering being a partner of Water – Use It Wisely to help with their water conservation messaging.

Additional accomplishments by Rio Verde include:

  • Solar panels installed on the community center serve 25% of the building’s average energy demand, resulting in over 250,000 kWh (and over $28,000) saved annually.
  • 15 acres of turf on the golf courses have been naturalized to desert landscaping, reducing water and maintenance requirements.
  • 3-4 tons of citrus are donated by residents annually to local food banks from their citrus trees.
  • A biennial educational event held on practices and products for living green draws over 100 residents and other local community members.
Noelle-Johnson-azplantlady television appearance
Noelle Johnson, AZ Plant Lady

In fact, this Saturday, January 30th, the Rio Verde Community Center will be host to the It’s All About Water Conference & Symposium from 9am – 1pm. The line-up of speakers includes Joanna Nadeau of Audubon International who will discuss the global water supply, Mike Kleminski of Rio Verde Utilities who will discuss the Arizona and local water supply, Donna DiFrancesco, a conservation coordinator with the City of Mesa (representing Water – Use It Wisley), and Noelle Johnson, a desert landscape consultant and native plant specialist. Vendors with sustainable products and green services will also be in attendance offering information on solar, water, and energy conservation. And, don’t miss the raffle offering a chance to win a “smart” irrigation controller. View a complete agenda for the conference and symposium here.

For more information, visit Rio Verde Community Association or call 480-471-2068.