Arizona Sustainability Alliance received a check for $25,000 to provide a low-income Mesa neighborhood with energy-efficient windows, from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant on Tuesday, December 19 at the Mesa City Hall. Members of the city council and staff joined the celebration, and we are please to share AZSA City of Mesa Liaison Allison Boley’s speech:

This project has been about community from the beginning. The Arizona Sustainability Alliance is focused on the intersection where the environment meets people. That intersection is important and far-reaching. For the past 18 years, the American Lung Association has compiled a “State of the Air” report because pollution is not just an annoyance; it is a detriment to our health. A 2015 Department of Defense report called climate change “an urgent and growing threat to our national security.” As an Arizona native, I grew up in our desert culture where we share a collective understanding of the value of conserving water and protecting ourselves from the summer’s extreme heat.

We are not merely tree huggers. We are people huggers.

So when the opportunity to apply for State Farm’s appropriately titled Neighborhood Assist Grant came along, we jumped at the chance. Energy Star windows can save up to an estimated $465 annually when replacing single-paned windows, reducing air conditioning costs and energy usage. However, the upfront cost of energy-efficient window installation can exceed $1000. This means that in low-income neighborhoods, some Mesa residents find themselves in the no-win situation in which they are paying for an unnecessarily high amount of energy because they cannot afford to lower their costs. Our proposal to install energy-efficient windows in a low-income Mesa neighborhood was poised to benefit not only the residents who would receive the windows, but also the local skilled workers who would install the windows. And in some small measure, the entire community benefits from the reduced energy demand.

But to win funding, we needed the help of the community, because the grant was a competition. We were a brand new organization, at the time existing for less than six months, and we received no traditional media coverage. For ten days, friends, family, and strangers alike voted and spread the word. It is only because of this community effort that at the end of those ten days, we made it into the top 40 proposals and received funding. If you were part of that voting community, we thank you.

And it is on behalf of our community that I accept this check. I believe that with projects like this, we can work together towards a more sustainable present for each other, and a more sustainable future for those yet to come.