Sundt Sustainable Infrastructure Expert Presents at NAREE Conference

 |  Sundt People, Sustainability
Scot Bennett

Not all marriages are happy ones, but the union of infrastructure and sustainability is one that seems destined for long-term success. Bringing them together results not just in tangible things that make places work, but in imaginative, creative endeavors that actually make places work better and improve how we live – both now and in the future.

Sustainable infrastructure, as Sundt defines it, is the focus on creating environments that are socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable. Many cutting-edge sustainable infrastructure projects exist in Arizona, where Sundt is headquartered, and where there is an urgent need for projects that address the state’s growing needs for roads, water, and mass transit.

Scot Bennett, one of Sundt’s sustainable infrastructure experts, spoke on this topic last Thursday at a National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Denver, Colo. He emphasized the critical importance of cooperation between the public and private sectors as we work to improve America’s infrastructure, as well as the value of long-range strategic planning.

Scot’s presentation focused on several sustainable projects in Arizona – some that have involved Sundt – and what he calls “ideas that have the potential to be bigger than they are today.” They are:


Valley Metro Light Rail in Phoenix

A nonprofit, public corporation charged with the design, construction and operation of the region’s light rail system. Currently, the light rail line serves the cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. Construction began in March 2005; operation started December 2008. In 2011 it had an estimated daily ridership of 41,300, making it the 12th busiest light rail system in the country. The project is a sign that Phoenix continues to mature and think sustainably about its infrastructure needs.

Solana Station solar power plant

The $2 billion Solana Station solar power plant is located about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix in Gila Bend and utilizes the proprietary concentrating solar trough technology. Arizona Public Service (APS) has contracted to purchase 100 percent of the power output generated from Solana to meet the Arizona Corporation Commission’s mandate that the state’s regulated utilities provide 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.  If operating today at full capacity, Solana Station would be the largest solar power plant in the world, capable of producing enough energy to serve approximately 70,000 APS customers. Sundt is currently involved in this project as a contractor to Abengoa, the owner.

EnviroMission Solar Tower

In January of this year, EnviroMission received formal commitment to provide the development and construction capital for its first tower to be located in La Paz County, Ariz. Through a power purchase agreement, the tower will be providing energy for the Southern California Public Power Authority. To do this the company will construct a 2,600-foot-tall tower (twice the height of the empire state building) that will act as a turbine spinning chimney for hot air heated by a massive field of solar reflectors.

Superstition Vistas

Superstition Vistas is located within what some are calling Arizona’s Megapolitan, the Sun Corridor, between the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson. (Megapolitans are places where two or more metropolitan areas are growing together into one Superegion.) Superstition Vistas is comprised of about 175,000 acres of undeveloped land. The land is held in trust by the Arizona State Land Department and is managed for beneficiaries, the public schools and other state public institutions.

Because of its location, size and forecasted population growth, in 2007 this area was identified as the subject of a long-term land use and transportation scenario planning project by a group of public and private stakeholders. The goal is to take all the experience, knowledge, and lessons learned and develop a responsible, sustainable infrastructure and community for the future. Leaders view Superstition Vistas as having potential to create a new paradigm for sustainable development.