2024 KCP Application
Customers & Partnerships
Primary Project Category:
Secondary Project Category:
Carbon Sinks (Natural & Engineered)
Social & Cultural Pathways
Transport and Mobility
Project Summary / Description:
Waffle Forest's founder, Ernest Lerma, was born and raised in a poor Hispanic neighborhood in South Phoenix. Mr. Lerma's brief stint in prison inspired him to reflect on how he could improve his community and contribute to other similarly marginalized communities in the United States. On December 7th, 2020, while sitting on Phoenix's South Mountain, looking at the layer of pollution over the city, Mr. Lerma had the idea to restore land ravaged by landfills. Thus, Waffle Forest was born. Our purpose is to advocate for the environment and the communities that are most affected by environmental injustice. Waffle Forest will clean the environment while creating a beautiful, lush landscape in a previously forgotten and mismanaged area. This will provide residents and their families with the ability to create memories while contributing to positive change in today's environmental crisis.
Regions of Operations:
Best Estimate of GHG Avoidance/Reduction of This Project (Tonnes CO2 Equivalent/Year):
Impact on Underrepresented Groups:
When Mr. Lerma observed the fog of pollution over the city, he was observing the effects of discriminatory and hazardous environmental policies through which minority populations have been exposed to third world conditions in South Phoenix's urban heat island. Temperatures in South Phoenix have increased by 12 ¬∞F over the last 70 years (Bolin et al., 2012). This problem is largely driven by CO2 concentrations, which are currently the highest they have been in 650,000 years (NASA, 2022) . Deforestation exacerbates the problem by increasing CO2 emissions and removing the cooling effect of plants. In the last two decades, the United States lost 42.2 MH of tree cover, increasing CO2 emissions by 16.3 GT; Arizona alone lost 233 kH (GFW, 2021). Irreversible ecological damage has also created water insecurity in South Phoenix. Since the 1950s, the city has rerouted water from South Phoenix‚ recreational areas to suburban neighborhoods (Bolin et al., 2012). Various studies show that recreation contributes to healthy social development for children, and when a lack of recreational spaces is combined with an abundance of polluted ones, children are at higher risk of both chronic and infectious diseases (WHO, 2019). High incidence of disease and a lack of socialization can cause developmental delays that reduce lifelong cognitive, emotional, and physical potential. Waffle Forest will provide a safe, sustainable recreational space for South Phoenix families. Clean, safe, and secure environments are fundamental to healthy childhood development (Eme, 2017). As a former occupant of the area, and a former convict, our founder, Ernie Lerma, understands better than anyone the harms of a damaged environment. South Phoenix is constantly exposed to pollutants and industrial hazards, burdening them with the effects of climate change and environmental injustice. Waffle Forest strives to decrease these burdens and give back to the community, so that future generations can be inspired by change created by someone just like them. South Phoenix suffers from urban decay, which is a sociological process by which a city falls into disrepair and decrepitude (Andersen, 2019). Rather than offering residents safe and practical spaces in which to live, the area is riddled with dilapidated infrastructure, such as landfills. Neighborhood revitalization, which is a key aspect to our plan, concentrates resources in a specific geography and combines physical revitalization with increased provision of vital services like health care, education, and job training programs (Shroyer et al., 2019). We plan to remove industrial hazards which will also increase property values in the community. A study by Richard C. Ready indicates that large landfills, on average, decrease the value of the land adjacent to it by 12.9% (2010). Based on other urban landfill rehabilitation, the total economic benefits of the Waffle Forest will range in value from 59.62 to 61.47 million USD (Ospanbayeva & Wang, 2020). We are enthralled to be at the forefront of creating green spaces for South Phoenix. Integral to our process is advocacy for the enhancement of both the environment and the local community.
Research or Economic Modeling
Measurement, Reporting & Validation