Architecture and Sustainability in Tucson’s Built Environment

Our built environment — housing, public facilities, commercial buildings — is vital to sustainability in our cities and towns. But what goes into making that built environment sustainable? What makes a building “green”? How does a building qualify for LEED certification? And what does LEED certification mean?

Beyond these technical questions, we want to examine broader social and environmental issues relating to our built environment. Can sustainable buildings, for example, affect our health? How can multi-family or low-income housing be made “green”? And even, can energy-efficient buildings impact climate change?

Join us at the next Sustainable Tucson meeting for an exploration of these and related issues, at the first event in a collaboration between the Sonoran Branch of US Green Building Council – Arizona and Sustainable Tucson on “Architecture and Sustainability in Tucson’s Built Environment.”

At this first event, the Sonoran Branch of USGBC-Arizona will present a panel discussion addressing local, sustainable buildings and green certification systems. The panel will offer perspectives from professionals in several fields within the residential and commercial building industries.

Richard Franz-Under, Green Building Program Manager for Pima County Development Services and a USGBC LEED Accredited Professional, will moderate the panel. The panel will feature:
• Nicole Brule-Fisher: a Realtor with RE/MAX Trends and President of Tucson Association of Realtors; the first Tucson Realtor to become a certified Eco-Broker and the first to become a National Association of Realtors GREEN designee
• Andrew Hayes: working with Hayes Construction, a custom home building company that provides earth-friendly practices in its projects and incorporates no-cost solutions to make homes more energy efficient
• Thomas C. Mannschreck: president, CEO, and owner of Thomas Development Co., a Boise, Idaho-based real-estate development company, and of Thomas Investments Limited Partnership, a family-held, real-estate investment entity; through Thomas Development Co., developer of four LEED Platinum multi-family housing projects for low-income seniors and families
• Rob Paulus: an architect, developer, and musician; founded Rob Paulus Architects to create unique, award winning, and regionally-specific architecture; active in promoting high quality design with appropriate density for our community.

Check out a recent Arizona Daily Star article on Tucson Association of Realtor and Sustainability.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

The second event in “Architecture and Sustainability in Tucson’s Built Environment” will be a free tour on June 18 of Primavera Foundation’s Las Abuelitas Family Housing, a LEED Platinum project by Poster Frost Mirto Architects that provides housing for low-income grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. A mixer will follow the tour.
For more information about the tour, please visit the event listing Space will be limited for the tour, so registration (available at the event listing) is required.

Intro to Rammed Earth Building

Desert Sky Music, Art & Sustainability Festival In collaboration with Harmony & Health Foundation and Earth Prototypes offer a two day “Intro to Rammed Earth Building” workshop on both May 16 & 17 from 9am – 3pm.

Building with Earth provides us with a deep connection to the land and is an abundant resource of the Sonoran Desert. Come learn how to build 4′ x 8′ Rammed Earth sections and how to install form work, tamping techniques and their specialized tools, along with soil composition and proper wetness.

Students will learn: The basics of Suitable soil selection, soil/cement ratios and how much water is needed, mixing techniques, ramming Method, and simple Formwork design and installation.

Location: Desert Sky Festival Grounds at Harmony & Health Eco‐Village, adjacent to 13554 W. Sacred Earth Way, Tucson, AZ.

Tuition: $40 for the weekend or $25 ‐ per day.

All the particulars and to register.

The Economics of, and Threats to, Rooftop Solar

[You can see the presentations below. ]

• Are new proposals to state regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission by Tucson Electric Power and Trico making it more difficult and expensive for Tucsonans to “Go Solar”?
• Are local solar jobs at stake?
• What is the value of rooftop solar?
• Are you concerned?

Come to Sustainable Tucson’s May 11th meeting to become an informed citizen.

Speakers will include:

• Bruce Plenk: Local solar consultant (Solar Possibilities Consulting), current chair of the Southern Arizona Solar Partnership, and member of the Tucson Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission
• Russell Lowes: Sierra Club Rincon Group Energy Chair, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter Solar Task Force Chair, and Research Director at
• Ron Proctor: Core team member Sustainable Tucson, Co-chair City of Tucson Climate Change committee, homeowner with 1Kw PV grid-tied system since 2006.

The meeting will also outline opportunities for advocacy on these important issues, including suggestions for crafting your message to policy makers.

Doors open at 5:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 6:00 pm.

Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Lower Level Meeting Room,
101 N. Stone, (free lower level parking off Alameda St.)

Take Action Now. The Arizona Corporation Commission has to approve efforts to stifle distributed solar with new fees. They will be holding public hearings soon and your emails to the Commissioners will be counted and noted. Act Now

Russell Lowes –
Bruce Plenk –
Ron Proctor –