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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Development of an Innovative Climate Projects Coordination Structure

Gila River Indian Community, Arizona

Federal Funding: $262,124
Project Timeline: February 2010 – December 2012

Latest Update

The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) continues to implement multiple recycling, clean energy, and green building projects. GRIC has continued to support the Pilot Residential Recycling Program, and between May 2011 and September 2012, the Community collected 106 tons of recyclable material. Upcoming activities include increasing public awareness of the Pilot Recycling Program and estimating the program’s greenhouse gas reductions. Additionally, GRIC has completed the GRIC Community Renewable Energy Plan, as well as their baseline Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. The GRIC Green Building Guidelines are being used in new commercial and residential building construction plans, and GRIC has continued to develop LEED practices and efforts through site visits and energy assessments. Additionally, GRIC’s Environmental Quality Project Associate has received LEED Accredited Professional status. GRIC has conducted numerous energy efficiency outreach events that promote energy efficiency by distributing compact fluorescent light bulbs, and will continue to seek out opportunities to develop renewable energy projects.


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Gila River Recycling Bins

Gila River Recycling Bins

GRIC distributed curbside recycling bins to residents.

Gila River Recycling Bins

Recycling Audit

Staff during a recycling audit conducted in April 2012.

Gila River Recycling Bins

Recycling Audit

Staff during a recycling audit conducted in April 2012.

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Project Summary

Using Recycling, Renewable Energy, and Green Building Programs to Fight Climate Change

The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) had many ideas for projects that would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These efforts, however, were uncoordinated, unfunded, and in need of grant-writing support and technical assistance to succeed. GRIC is using its Climate Showcase Community grant funding to complete these projects by:

  • establishing a Climate Projects Specialist in the community's Department of Environmental Quality,
  • completing a community–wide GHG Inventory,
  • implementing a curb-side recycling program,
  • implementing a compact fluorescent (CFL) lighting and Green Building program, and
  • developing options for reducing industrial facilities' GHG emissions.

To provide staff support for GHG emission reduction projects, the Gila River Department of Environmental Quality has established a Climate Projects Specialist position. This staff person coordinates new and existing project teams, is pursuing LEED certification, and is promoting the program through presentations and articles in the local media.

One of the Climate Projects Specialist's duties is to implement a demonstration curb-side recycling program. Through presentations and outreach materials, she is educating community members about the program, and she will evaluate the program to determine how to expand the program throughout the community.

The Climate Projects Specialist is also working with the Department of Environmental Quality to promote the benefits of CFL light bulbs and Green Buildings. The target is to replace approximately 90 percent of conventional light bulbs in the community with CFLs, develop green building guidelines for the community, and construct at least one LEED-certified home.

Finally, the community's air quality program is developing a GHG emissions inventory of facilities operating in the community and an options paper outlining reduction strategies and their costs. The Tribal Council will use this report to decide how to implement further GHG reduction programs within the community's jurisdiction.

The benefits of this program include direct GHG emission reductions through curbside recycling, CFL bulb replacements, and the construction of LEED-certified homes. The establishment of a Climate Projects Specialist builds internal capacity, establishes strong community partnerships, and ensures the results are replicated through the community. These projects are consistent with natural resource protection, a core cultural value of the Akimel O'odham and Pee Posh peoples of the Gila River Community.

Community Characteristics

Population 22,000
Area 640 square miles
Government Type Tribal
Community Type Rural
Median Household Income $34,000

Program Results

  Reported Results (as of September 2012) Projected Cumulative Results
Annual GHG Reductions 297 mt CO2e 3,317 mt CO2e
Households with Recycling Service 841 1,000
CFL Bulb Replacements n/a 90% of households

Media Coverage

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