Rio Verde Community to Receive Sustainable Community Certification on Earth Day 2015

RIO VERDE, AZ – Rio Verde Community Association has been designated as the first Certified Sustainable Community in the state of Arizona after completing requirements and meeting the strict criteria of the Audubon International Sustainable Communities Program. 

To become certified, Sustainable Communities Program members must develop and implement management practices and policies according to a community-driven Long Term Sustainability Plan (LTSP) that has timelines and measurable goals addressing 15 focus areas, including wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement, water conservation, energy efficiency, health, and transportation. Receiving designation as a Certified Sustainable Community by Audubon International is contingent upon the quality and completeness of the LTSP and its implementation.

“Rio Verde Community Association residents have worked enthusiastically to shape our community within the guidelines established by Audubon International,” noted Gary Holcomb, President of the Community Association. “Our focus on preservation, conservation and sustainability will certainly benefit our current residents as well as those who will follow in their footsteps. We look forward to a long-term partnership with Audubon International.”

Located 40 miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona, Rio Verde was built between the Verde River, the Tonto National Forest, and McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Residents enjoy 735 acres of desert wildflowers, cacti, and abundant native wildlife that accent the residential areas, hiking trails, tennis courts, fitness center, and two golf courses – irrigated with reclaimed water, of course. In 2015, this desert haven was voted No. 1 “Private Golf Course” and “Active Adult Community” in Arizona by Ranking Arizona: the Best of Arizona Business.

Director of Community Programs Joanna Nadeau will present the certification award to the Rio Verde Community Association at a final site visit on Earth Day 2015. “As the first member west of the Mississippi River to receive the Audubon International Sustainable Community Certification, Rio Verde has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainable living,” says Nadeau. “This community’s multi-stage, volunteer-led effort will help to preserve the unique desert setting and enhance quality of life for all residents over the long run.” 

To preserve its natural and recreational amenities, Rio Verde is implementing action items from an adopted long-range sustainability plan and measuring initial progress towards its chosen sustainability targets. Rio Verde’s accomplishments include:

  •  Solar panels installed on the community center serve 25% of the building’s average energy demand, resulting in over 250,000 kWh (and over $28,000) saved annually.
  •  15 acres of turf on the golf courses have been naturalized to desert landscaping, reducing water and maintenance requirements.
  •  3-4 tons of citrus are donated by residents annually to local food banks from their citrus trees.
  •   Created a native plant landscaping palette for the Country Club and Community Association.
  •  A biennial educational event held on practices and products for living green draws over 100 residents.

Rio Verde is the 5th community to receive this certification, joining Eufaula, Alabama; Williamston, North Carolina; Coconut Creek, Florida, and Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont.

About Audubon International

Audubon International is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) environmental education organization dedicated to providing people with the education and assistance they need to practice responsible management of land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources. To meet this mission, the organization provides training, services, and a set of award-winning environmental education and certification programs for individuals, organizations, properties, new developments, and entire communities. Through the Sustainable Communities and Green Neighborhoods Programs, Audubon International works to help community leaders and stakeholders embrace environmental stewardship and sustainability as a central element of planning, policies, and practices. For more information, contact Audubon International at (518) 767-9051 or visit the website at

About Rio Verde Community Association 

The Rio Verde community is governed by a homeowners’ association under Arizona’s planned community statutes. Rio Verde is an age-restricted community or “adult community,” which means one member of each household must be at least 55 years of age and no person under 19 can be a permanent resident of the community. This long standing and effective community association has proven effective over 40 years of governance and management for the approximately 1,080 residential home units. The HOA is run by a small professional staff that is augmented by volunteer committees who help run the community, including management of its streets and services.

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