The Dean’s List. Olympic Gold. Fortune 100 status.
We’re all familiar with these hallmarks of success. For the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the premier benchmark is known as the Voluntary Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP). The program, which started in 2012, identifies four levels – bronze, silver, gold and platinum.
This year, CAP was admitted into the program at the highest Platinum Level, joining an elite rank of only six other organizations in Arizona, including APS, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Freeport-McMoRan, Honeywell Aerospace, Intel and Ping.
“This recognition is a reflection of CAP’s strong vision and commitment to environmental excellence,” said Ted Cooke, CAP general manager. “ADEQ has laid out an ambitious program for participants to challenge themselves and we are honored to be recognized at the platinum level. At CAP we have dedicated employees who hold themselves and the organization to the highest standards. This is a testament to their efforts over time and to their commitment to continuous improvement.”
VESP was designed to identify and reward organizations with a strong history of compliance with environmental regulations. To achieve Platinum status, an organization must have a fully implemented environmental management system – a set of processes and practices that represent reduced environmental impacts and increased operating efficiency. In a nutshell, the Platinum designation recognizes those organizations that truly go above-and-beyond legal requirements. For CAP, this includes:
- Reducing Carbon Footprint by CAP’s Power Portfolio — CAP is the largest consumer of electricity in Arizona due to the amount of power it takes to lift water more than 2,900 vertical feet over its 336-mile system. CAP has developed a diversified power portfolio, which includes a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for energy from a 30 MW solar facility that will provide 6% of our power needs. A second solar phase, coming online in 2023, will add an additional 3%.
- Preventing Pollution, Reducing Waste and Minimizing Resource Consumption — CAP’s employee-led Eco Team has implemented an award-winning recycling, commodity recovery and landfill diversion program. To cut back on emissions, the organization follows a four-day workweek, uses LED lightbulbs at all plants, promotes carpooling and recently added its fleet’s first electric vehicle. CAP diverts more than 1,800 tons from the landfill annually. As a result, Environmental Leader recognized CAP as its “Project of the Year” for waste management implementation. This accolade was part of the Environment and Energy Leader 100 program, which recognizes “leaders, innovators, shaker-uppers and doers in the environmental and energy management space.”
- Leading the Way with a model Climate Adaptation Plan – This innovative plan, published in 2018, focuses directly on CAP’s water delivery mission and considers the effects of climate change on CAP’s ability to accomplish this mission, beyond the obvious water and power implications. This is in addition to CAP’s other climate change-related actions.
- Providing National Leadership — For 2020 and 2021, CAP is chairing the Water Utility Climate Alliance (WUCA), furthering the organization’s mission to collaboratively advance water utilities’ climate change adaptation. CAP joins 11 of the largest water utilities in the United States to identify leading practices in climate adaptation.
“Achieving Platinum membership in ADEQ’s Voluntary Environmental Stewardship Program is a very high bar,” said Len Drago, ADEQ VESP Program Coordinator. “ADEQ is pleased to recognize Central Arizona Project at VESP’s highest level for its commitment to going above and beyond environmental regulatory requirements and dedication to continuous improvement.”