Phoenix, Arizona is hailing down a new era of sustainability.

Mayor Gordon is spearheading his “Green Phoenix” initiative. Light rail has arrived. Arizona is Jonesing to become the “Saudi Arabia of Solar.” One of the nation’s first Green Chamber of Commerces sprouted here last year.

And now we’re about to get a new carbon negative cab: Clean Air Cab and its fleet of tree-planting Priuses (Or is it Priusi?).

Let me back-up for a second. I had the pleasure of meeting Carrie Morgan of A Fragile Planet greenzine yesterday morning for coffee. Carrie is a local marketing pro and an ambassador for the Green Chamber of Commerce. And what an ambassador she is: I’m now signed up to help on the chamber’s communications committee for social media and blogging.  Anyway, Carrie introduced me to Clean Air Cab (Their site will launch October 1).

So I asked Clean Air Cab president, Steve Lopez, “Can you really be a carbon negative cab company?”

Here’s how they do it.

  • Start with 27 Hybrid Prius cabs hitting the streets October 19
  • Pre-purchase annual carbon offsets for each of its cabs from EcoAid (This is going to drive my buddy, Pat, in Seattle nuts)
  • Plant 10 trees per cab every month to “Re-green the planet”

“I am entirely committed to bringing the city of Phoenix new jobs, a generous fleet of carbon neutral taxi cabs, a small fleet of natural gas paratransit vehicles (the MV-1), the addition of hydrogen transportation when practical, and all of this done within a few years. We are a young and energetic taxi cab company with a passion of creating quality local relationships, and whose conscience is in complete harmony with the “green” vision of the leaders of our great city.”  – Steve Lopez

Steve also informed me of some of the other cool sustainable aspects of the green cabbie. They’re exploring the adoption of Phoenix Metro Light Rail’s largest station at Mill Avenenue and Sycamore in Tempe, where they will clean and maintain the station. They are also finalizing a new iPhone and Blackberry app. that will allow you to hail a cab electronically, and Clean Air Cab will target your position from the GPS.

The company also has been doing a nice job with social media, including a cab wrap design contest on their blog (winner featured above), and an active Facebook fan page.

I’ve lived in Phoenix since 1985, and until the early 2000’s, I haven’t seen a great deal of innovation in the desert. But things are humming now. And much of that hum is coming from projects in sustainability and renewable energy. Clean Air Cab is yet another entry in this growing sustainable field that I’m excited about.

You can learn more about Clean Air Cab and vote for its mission at Greenwala.com.