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Green Cave Creek
Green Cave Creek
Green Cave Creek


Green Cave Creek is a group of volunteers fostering sustainability in the town by providing information and running programs. The group, which advises the town, always seeks fresh ideas. It meets monthly, welcoming visitors and new members. view the topics to the left to learn more.

Join Save-a-Watt
If you’re here to learn about Save-a-Watt – so you can save money and work toward energy independence  – view the Save-a-Watt button at left.

Save-a-Watt Offers Deals on Home Checkups
Imagine slashing your electric bill by up to 30%. Not sure where to start? Cave Creek residents can get answers from a deeply discounted home energy checkup through Save-a-Watt, in cooperation with APS. 
    The first 90 applicants for Home Energy Checkup Rebates will pay only $49, a fraction of inspections’ $400 value. power usage by September 2012. The checkups identify upgrades that can cut electric bills by up to 30%, paying dividends for many years.  A state-of-the-art checkup uses a whole-house approach to identify ways to improve a home’s comfort, safety, and energy efficiency. For details, view on Save-a-Watt at the upper left.

Save-a-Watt Seeks 10% Energy Cut
Save-a-Watt is kicking off its efforts to reduce energy consumption community-wide by 10% within two years. The idea is to save money while moving toward energy independence.
    Partnering with the town, the Green Cave Creek town advisory group will promote subsidies and other energy-efficiency opportunities for residents and business owners.
    "We're elated to receive this funding to help the community save money while reducing greenhouse gases to protect the environment," said Patrick Grady, chair of the newly renamed advisory group which helped the town request the grant. "This ambitious undertaking is an important step forward in our efforts to make Cave Creek sustainable."
    A $49,150 federal grant awarded by the Arizona Commerce Authority will underwrite the town's partnership with Energy Star, a federal program to improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings nationwide. The town joined the program in May. Green Cave Creek will use the funds over the next two years to encourage energy conservation by everyone within town boundaries. The group plans to:
  • Spread the word to residents and business about opportunities for cutting power usage.
  • Stage a town hall meeting on energy conservation
  • Sponsor a vendor fair for green industry
  • Operate a light bulb exchange to increase use of CFLs
  • Support Arizona Public Service programs including subsidies for efficient lighting at businesses
    The group also is asking the town to streamline the process for installation permits and waive the $150 fee for solar water heaters. The grant would reimburse the town for lost revenues. 
    The Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce will help engage business involvement. 
    The grant under the Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, is the second awarded to Green Cave Creek. Theresa Rigney, chair of the group's Energy Subcommittee which worked on the grant proposal, said the new program has far greater implications than the first grant that replaced inefficient water utility equipment.  "The first grant bought energy-efficient equipment," she said. "This program will educate the community in opportunities for energy efficiency and alternative energy.  It will pay dividends for many years."

cc mus guy w panel 037  301.jpgCave Creek Museum is 1st Town Non-profit With Solar PV
Even hidden gems like the Cave Creek Museum are feeling the recession's wrath. It isn’t easy being a small museum off Arizona’s main tourist trail: despite hard work that lured 45 more visitors in one year, the museum’s budget was slashed by nearly one quarter amid the worst financial squeeze in its 40-year history. 
    Carefree and Cave Creek governments, caught in their own budget vises, withdrew $33,000 of the museum’s $133,000 funding. “We are in a continuing struggle to remain viable as is every small museum in Arizona,” said Barbara Chatzkel, president of the museum board. “A lot of funding sources have disappeared.”
    But the situation improved significantly after Mike Rigney, Cave Creek assistant utilities manager, noticed an announcement of energy conservation grants for non-profits. The museum had to move fast – it had less than three weeks to submit a proposal – but the effort produced a $34,277 grant by the Arizona Department of Commerce to pay for photovoltaic panels expected to meet museum electricity needs and save about $4,000 the first year. The system, worth about $70,000 including Arizona Public Service rebates and discounts, began operating in February after a turn-on ceremony including Town Manager Usama Abujbarah and Carefree Mayor David Schwan. 
    “Most operating costs, such as electricity, can’t be cut," Chatzkel said. "Installing solar energy is a great way to reduce an operating cost. This is a really big step for us.”
Solar systems pay bigger dividends as electric rates rise. “We know in the future rates are not going down,” she said.
    The grant complements the town’s Save-a-Watt program to cut energy usage by 10% in Cave Creek. Although Save-a-Watt is aimed primarily at guiding residents and businesses toward energy independence, the non-profit museum landed a standout role – providing leadership while helping the program meet its energy conservation goal. 
    “This grant award is a great example of the ongoing partnership between the town and museum,” said Evelyn Johnson, museum executive director. “When Mike first saw the grant he gave us a call because he thought it would be perfect for us.”
    The Cave Creek historical tapestry includes archaeology, cattle, sheep, mining, a tubercular camp and dude ranches. The museum offers education and interpretive exhibits that bring to life pre-contact history, gold mining, tuberculosis camps, and early ranch settlements.  
    The grant, using stimulus funds from the Department of Energy, will pay for 57 photovoltaic panels measuring 3 by 5 feet.* The 13 kilowatt system atop the museum’s main building should produce power by the holidays, Chatzkel said.  
    Salt River Solar and Wind, LLC of Surprise installed the system. 
    “We are doing our work where the future meets the past,” said owner Mike Fricker . “It’s a way for Salt River Solar and Wind to help preserve a part of Arizona’s history.” 
    “Salt River Solar and Wind worked hard with us to make this happen,” Chatzkel said. The museum had already been recycling and conserving energy through high-efficiency lighting, she said. “The museum and the volunteers are as green-conscious as we can be. We are excited about the Save-a-Watt Program and we will continue to look for ways to help reduce energy use in Cave Creek.”
    Save-a-Watt would like to see others follow the lead of the museum and Tobias Automotive, which in February became the town’s first business to generate solar power. 
    "We're thrilled the museum is the town's first non-profit to go solar," said J. Patrick Grady, chair of Green Cave Creek which runs Save-a-Watt with the town. "The grant couldn't go to a more deserving organization.  We hope this project will inspire others to adopt the ultimate strategy for energy independence."
    Save-a-Watt will provide free low-usage light bulbs, energy-saving tips and workshops while alerting the community to money-saving subsidies.  Arizona is increasing electricity consumption four times as fast as the national average. If demand keeps rising, more power plants must be built which would hike electric rates and pollution.   
    “This is our small contribution to not having to build an additional power plant,” Chatzkel said. 
    To learn about the Cave Creek Museum, visit the Cave Creek Museum website.  The museum, at 6140 East Skyline Drive in Cave Creek, is open Wednesday through Sunday.  Call (480) 488-2764 for additional information. 
    Learn about Save-a-Watt.

Kill Invasive Desert Brooms before Millions of Seeds Fly
By Gregory V. Smith
    Last winter's rains have nurtured an invasive species which is sending millions of seeds in an airborne assault.  Residents should immediately remove desert broom by the roots, or at least cut off seed heads as a temporary measure.  Dandelion-like seeds have begun flying all over town, threatening the Sonoran Desert.
    When winter rains moisten the soil, it's much easier to pull out weeds.  It's also easier to exterminate small enemy invaders, before they get a foothold.  But with seeds starting to take flight, residents can take immediate action by using pruning shears to cut off the female flowers which are larger and fuzzier. This will reduce the number of seeds this year, buying time for extermination. Another approach is using a chain saw or tree limb cutters to cut plants near the ground, the pour Roundup onto the stump so it's soaked into the roots.
    Certain other winter invasives, such as grasses and globe chamomile, haven’t yet dropped all their seeds into the soil. If you remove seed heads in time, you could prevent thousands of their seeds from possibly germinating in the future.
    Invasives endanger the desert ecosystem by choking out native plants and causing fire hazards, biologists say.  Pristine desert contains nonflammable rocks and soil along with fire-resistant cacti and trees spread far apart. Invasive weeds and grasses spread fire quickly and provide enough fuel to fatally sear native plants -- which require decades or centuries to fully recover. Many invasives, on the contrary, sprout quickly and thrive after fires. They can take over habitat. Goodbye, Sonoran Desert. Even small infestations can produce a cumulative effect that does great damage over the years. Some biologists fear buffel grass can even turn soil nearly sterile so nothing can live there.
    Certain plants even put homes at risk. Desert broom, for example, contains a flammable oil that provides a nearly explosive fuel for fires. The broom is now forming flowers that will send seeds  airborne in a few weeks, flying dandelion-style to infest areas near and far.
    To avoid using chemicals, residents can pull weeds (or ask landscaping maintenance professionals) using gloves and a simple-weed removal tool.  This is an ideal time of year to remove desert broom, whose extensive roots are hard to remove when earth is dry. A small desert broom pulls out in seconds now, compared to a 3-year-old that can require back-breaking digging to remove -- especially in dry conditions.
     If you prefer to use poison, glyphosate (Roundup®) is prefered by many landscapers as a less toxic alternative. Work early in the morning when it's cooler, drink water and protect yourself from the sun.
    Green Cave Creek will feature invasive species from time to time including plants and animals.
    For a list of invasive plants with photos, go to Invasive Plants.
    Information on buffelgrass
    Alternatives to fountain grass

cham young square.jpgcham dry ok.jpgbroom seedling.jpgbrom big new.jpg
Fast-spreading globe chamomile young, dry; desert broom seedling, broom chokes mature prickly pear

GCC Seeks Volunteers for Save-a-Watt & Other Projects
    Green Cave Creek needs your help. We are embarking on exciting projects, including the Save-a-Watt program to cut power use by 10% at Cave Creek homes and businesses.
    Volunteers can work as little or as much as they'd like. The most pressing immediate need is for people to work with the education subcommittee to help spread the word about Save-a-Watt.
    Help us green Cave Creek -- please write group chair Patrick Grady and mention any relevant experience or expertise you may have.

pear.jpgSend Cool Wildlife Shots & We'll Publish Them Here
    Do you have a good photo of a javelina knocking over your garbage bin at 3:00 am, a mountain lion taking a dip in your pool or a gila monster devouring a quail egg at the instant it hatches?
    No problem. We'll settle for a decent shot of a hummingbird at a flower.
   Send us your most unusual photos of desert denizens and we'll publish them here. Please send your name and a brief caption to this email.
    Your name will be credited unless you ask us to withhold it.     

Video Corner
Ads Tout Fresh Air for Sale in Polluted Hong Kong
    As residents of Hong Kong suffer sore eyes and lungs, an environmental group launches an ad campaign to educate young people on the worst-case scenario in their future.
   Air pollution in Hong Kong is several times as bad as that of Phoenix.
   Let's hope they are refilling all those air cannisters . . . 
View full article on The New York Times.

Extreme Green: Living in a 89 Square-Foot House
   A newspaper story this year gushed about a couple living in a green house in Scottsdale that was 6,000 or so square feet. All green building is good, but a purist would argue it's light green at best to live in such a big place. But where do you draw the line? Two people in 3,000 square feet?  2,000? 1,000? Would it be claustrophobic to live in 300 feet? Jay Shafer goes far beyond that extreme. Watch this video.

Beyond Cave Creek
State Ranks Higher on National Energy-Efficiency List
    Arizona moved way up this year in national rankings for energy efficiency. The state went from 29th last year to 18th place in the 2009 comparison by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. It tied with Utah for the biggest improvement. 
    “Arizona adopted aggressive new electricity savings targets to achieve 2 percent annual savings beginning in 2014 and by 2020 to reach cumulative savings of 20 percent, relative to 2005 sales,” the council wrote. For details, visit the Greentech Enterprise.

Cubs Stadium in Mesa Uses Green Concepts
    Green design and building material are being incorporated into the new facility. View more.
Northern Arizona Power Plant may have to Clean Up
 The Four Corners Power Plant may be forced to install $717 million on scrubbers to reduce air pollution, which emits the highest levels of nitrous oxide in the nation, leading to the air quality as bad as in LA. View more.

Unparking Day Ousts Cars from Spaces in Phoenix   
Feed the meter and roll out the artificial turf. Phoenix residents take over parking spaces to make a statement about our car culture. View more.

Lake Meade hits 54-year low; 2014 Rationing Possible
   Drought has lowered the level of the reservoir to the point where rationing could begin within four years if it keeps dropping at the current rate. Although the water is shared with other states and Mexico, Arizona would face 96 percent of the cutback. El Nino wet winters the past two years replenished lakes near the Valley but haven't brought sufficient snowfalls in the San Juan Mountains that feed the Colorado River and supply Lake Meade.
   Here's what's being done to buy time before rationing becomes necessary: Read more.

Beyond Arizona
A Look at Green Trends, Domestic & Global