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1998 Annual Report

The City of Scottsdale Green Building Program was initiated in February of 1998. It was developed to encourage environmentally responsible building in our Sonoran desert environment by incorporating healthy, resource- and energy-efficient materials and methods in the design and construction of homes. It provides an alternative to homebuyers for sustainable living and the long-term advantages of owning an environmentally sound home.

The program was designed for the residential market and rates homes in the categories of site, energy, building materials, indoor air quality, water, and solid waste. A Green Building Checklist is used to gather a minimum of 55 points, choosing from numerous options. The program is strictly voluntary and uses incentives to entice builder participation.

Without the foresight and efforts of Scottsdale’s interim Green Building Advisory Committee, we would not have been able to make this program a reality. We would like to thank Paul Decker, Decker Homes; Denny Miller, Omni Block; Richard Zimmerman, AZ Sunshine Publishers; Beverly Westgaard, ADEQ; Tom Hahn, Sol Source; and Deborah Coburn, Healthy Housing for their guidance and valuable contribution.

Collaboration and Networks

During the course of the year, we gathered information from various programs around the region and country. Some of the organizations and programs that we have used as resources include the City of Austin Green Building Program, Green Builder Program of Metro Denver, Build a Better Kitsap Green Building Program (Kitsap County, WA), Civano Builder Program Workshop (Tucson Institute for Sustainable Communities), EPA Energy Star Program, ASU College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Arizona Energy Office, Arizona Vision Weavers, and Engineered for Life Program (Green Stone).

The city of Scottsdale joined the US Green Building Council and participated in the first Local Government Green Building Initiative meeting held in San Diego in February. About 14 representatives attended the meeting including the cities of Austin, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Tucson, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Seattle, and Global Green USA. Initiatives were shared and strategies were developed to broaden the reach of green building. In March and April, Scottsdale was invited to several city of Phoenix Environmental Quality Advisory Commission meetings to share information on the development of Scottsdale’s Green Building Program. Phoenix was considering the costs and staff impact of implementing such a program.

In January, Scottsdale participated in the first Planning Summit for Sustainable Building Codes held in Hesperia, CA. This summit discussed the impacts of buildings and developed strategies to make building codes supportive of green building materials and design. Finally in October, the city participated in the Green Building Challenge ’98 conference in Vancouver, Canada, which featured an international showcase for new developments in green building design and assessment.

As a result of some of Scottsdale’s green building involvement, the Arizona Environmental Strategic Alliance formed the Green Construction Collaboration Team in September. Some of the participating organizations besides Scottsdale include Southwest Gas, APS, SRP, Arizona Energy Office, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and representatives of the building industry. This team is planing various educational projects to inform the buying, building and regulating communities about the environmental and economic benefits of green construction choices. The Collaboration Team is seeking funding to produce educational information on a multitude of consumer and provider issues. These topics relate to reducing the use of virgin product and energy resources, the reusability of construction materials to offset life cycle costs of single usage, and the air quality impacts of overall energy-efficiency and healthy indoor product choices.

There has been a lot of activity in the Phoenix Metropolitan area during the Fall, including Scottsdale’s Green Building Workshop, the first annual Solar Home Tour, Principles of Applied Building Science Seminar, Sustainability Forum and Solar Lecture Series kick off. All of these activities have involved Scottsdale’s direct or indirect sponsorship in an effort to promote green building in the metropolitan region.

Green Building Workshops                                                                        

A total of three green building workshops were conducted in 1998. The first workshop served as the initiation of the program on February 20, 1998. The second and third workshops were held on June 18 and October 22. Collectively, the workshops involved over 300 individuals consisting of builders, designers and the home buying public. Also in attendance were representatives from local and state governmental agencies including Phoenix, Glendale, Cave Creek, Mesa, State Energy Office, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The workshops were designed as a collaborative venture, involving presenters from the private sector, governmental agencies, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. The workshops were organized around the six components of the program, which are site use, energy, water, building materials, indoor air quality, and solid waste.

Workshop attendance grew from 50 on February 20 to 135 on June 18 and leveled off at 120 at the October 22 workshop. The workshop evaluation comments were very supportive of the various green building topics and strategies. Ideas were offered for improving the effectiveness of future workshops, exhibits and educational programs.

Each workshop was free and included continental breakfast and lunch. Costs for the workshops were covered by utility company and state agency sponsors. In addition, exhibitor fees and company sponsors subsidized the June and October workshops. This allowed for revenues to pay for green building job site signs, newsletters and promotion material. Workshop sponsors were APS, SRP, Southwest Gas, ADEQ, State Energy Office, General Electric, and over 40 exhibitors featuring environmental friendly building products.

Participating Builders                                                                               

We qualified 10 homebuilders during 1998 with one or more building plans per builder. Decker Homes was the first builder to join the program and Wolf Environmental was the first builder to complete a home under the program in September. Most of the builders are custom homebuilders. The largest builder in the program is Classic Stellar Homes with a 35-lot subdivision. By the end of 1998, 21 homes were under various phases of construction. The following builders became active participants in the program (listed by order of builder entry into program):

Decker Homes Tierra Building Company
Wolf Environmental Golden Vista
Sloan Homes Arek Construction
Edwards Design Group Heller Construction
Classic Stellar Homes Solar Green Builders


As a consumer-driven program, we have engaged in an on-going marketing effort to bring the program to the attention of the construction industry and home buying public through educational programs, builder incentives, and media coverage.

We produced the following promotional material:

  • Overview/Fact Sheet
  • Program Guide/Booklet (55 page document)
  • 1st Quarterly Newsletter (Fall ’98)
  • Construction job site signs (24" by 36")
  • Directory of participating builders with company profiles
  • Homeowner’s manual with green feature descriptions
  • Directory of green building products
  • Four press releases (initiation of program & workshops)

Sixteen articles have appeared in over 10 local and national publications, including the Scottsdale Tribune, Environmental Building News, Arizona Home Improvement Journal, Desert Dweller News (AZ VisionWeavers), The Arizona Environment (ADEQ), The HBACA News Builder (Home Builders Assoc. of Central AZ), Four Corners Magazine, GoodCents (building news for a better environment), GreenClips (electronic newsletter), Kill-A-Watt Resources Magazine, and A Peek At The Peak (Greater Pinnacle Peak Homeowners’ Assoc.).

Our green building mailing list grew to over 400 individuals and organizations. Seven mass mailings were completed involving workshop notices, newsletter, special lectures and green building updates. In addition, we have received over 100 direct phone inquires and mailed out requested literature.

We also developed a Green Building web site (www.ci.scottsdale.az.us.az/greenbuilding) which contains most of the printed program material, including program application, workshop registration, and builder profiles. The web site was activated in late summer and has continually been refined and updated.

Tour of Solar Homes                                                                                    

On October 24, 1998, the Green Building Program joined the Arizona Vision Weavers and the Rio Salado Chapter of the Arizona Solar Energy Association in hosting the first "Valley of the Sun - Tour of Solar Homes". The tour featured eight homes, including the APS Environmental Showcase Home and the Desert House at Desert Botanical Gardens. With the exception of the Edward Jones residence in Ahwatukee, all of the homes were located in the Scottsdale area. Each of the homes featured various elements of passive and active solar systems including thermal mass, direct gain, earth integration, insulating skin approaches, solar domestic hot water heating, and photovoltaic installations.

The solar tour was part of a statewide program held in conjunction with the National Tour of Solar Homes. Homes on the tours are owned and lived in by ordinary people who have proven that solar is practical, reliable, and affordable. They demonstrate that solar energy can be simple and effective when incorporated into the design of buildings. These solar homeowners believe they have something extraordinary to share and are willing to open their doors to the general public, without compensation, for this one day.

Sonoran Solar Lecture Series                                                                  

On December 9, 1998, the Arizona Solar Energy Association (ASEA) and the Green Building Program kicked off the first in a series of solar lectures and presentations at Scottsdale’s Urban Design Studio. The first lecture featured Dan Aiello, environmental architect and Lane Garrett, solar engineer with their presentation on "Living With the Sun - Saving Money and the Environment". The speakers provided an introduction and historic overview of basic concepts and applications of solar technology with a focus on environmental and economic savings.

The goal of the lecture series is to educate the general public and design community about the benefits of solar in a variety of passive and active applications. The series present a variety of topics regarding solar and renewable energy utilization including design approaches: equipment ranging from photovoltaics to solar cookers; available and developing technologies, and social and environmental choices that impact Arizona and its citizens. The presentations demonstrate how solar energy is being used to generate electricity, heat water, power appliances, as well as heat, cool, and light our buildings. By promoting solar, we are supporting the Green Building Program’s effort to promote environmentally responsible and low impact building in our Sonoran Desert region.

The lectures have revealed the following facts about Scottsdale’s solar history:

  • Bennie Gonzales’s vernacular architectural approach (late 60’s to early 70’s) for Scottsdale City Hall, Library and Center for the Arts was a passive solar solution to Scottsdale’s Sonoran desert climate
  • World’s first swimming pool circulating pump powered by photovoltaic panel was installed in 1980 in Scottsdale
  • Arizona’s first solar cook off was held in Scottsdale in 1981
  • World’s first integrated solar powered yard light was installed in Scottsdale in the mid 80’s
  • One of the world’s first solar powered evaporative cooler was built in Scottsdale in the mid 80’s
  • Arizona’s three photovoltaic distributors (factory direct) are located in Scottsdale

The remaining lectures will take place on the second Wednesday of the month (January through December, 1999) from 7 to 9 PM at the City of Scottsdale, Redevelopment & Urban Design Studio located at 7506 E. Indian School Road (NE corner of 75th Street & Indian School Road).

Goals for 1999 & into the New Millennium                                                

Performance Goals and Targets: Performance goals and targets are critical to measuring the effectiveness of the Green Building Program. To this end, we have started to develop a performance mechanism involving energy, water, construction debris, indoor air quality and low impact building materials. Thanks to an initial study performed by the Dept. of Geography at Arizona State University, we will be able to quantify and measure the reduction in resource and waste flows associated with buildings in Scottsdale.

We have set the following targets for introducing green homes into the Scottsdale single family residential market over the next 6 years:

Year Total Housing Starts Green Building Starts Percentage of Projected Housing Starts
1998 4,011 (actual) 21 (actual)


1999 4,000 (projected) 50 (projected)


2000 3,700 " 100 "


2005 3,400 " 500 "


Green Building Cost Model: We are also developing a green building cost model to determine what building costs would be added to a typical home for incorporating green building features in comparison to added benefits. We will use this cost model as a selling tool to convince builders and consumers of the advantages of building green.

Expedited Plan Review: In 1988, we had begun to expedite the second review submittal of green building plans as part of the building code compliance review. For 1999, we’ve made arrangements with the building plan review section to expedite the first review of green building plans. There will be one designated building plan reviewer for all green building plans. In addition, we’ve made similar arrangements with the other plan review sections (planning & civil engineering) to expedite green building plans.

We will use this expedited service as a marketing tool and incentive for builders to join the program. Green builders will be able to get their plans through the city and obtain their building permits quicker than non-green builders. The green building administrator will serve as the liaison and coordinator for all green building plans going through the permit application process.

Green Building Inspections: We’ve made arrangements with the city inspection services division to fund a part-time contract position for green building inspections. This new position will serve as the city’s first green building inspector to ensure that approved green building plans are built in accordance with the green building checklist. We’re developing a green building inspection checklist to coincide with a four-part inspection sequence. The green building inspector will also assist with plan review for qualifying projects into the program.

Interim Green Building Advisory Committee                                              

An interim Green Building Advisory Committee was established around the beginning of the year under the direction of the city Environmental Quality Advisory Board. Service on the Advisory Committee provides an opportunity for private sector individuals to help develop and sustain a pro-active campaign for environmentally responsible building in the Scottsdale housing market. This campaign entails education and promotion of the benefits of green building to homebuyers, builders, and designers.

The following individuals have served over the past year on the interim Green Building Advisory Committee:

Deborah Coburn,  Healthy Housing
Bob Morris,  John Hall & Associates
Paul Decker,  Decker Homes
Beverly Westgaard,   ADEQ
Tom Hahn,  Sol Source/ASU
Richard Zimmerman,  AZ Sunshine Publishers
Denny Miller,  Omni Block, Inc.
Mark Stoltzmann,  Golden Flame

Comments from the Interim Green Building Advisory Committee               

Deborah Coburn, Healthy Housing:

"It has been my pleasure to serve on the Interim Scottsdale Green Building Program Advisory Board during 1998. I have been impressed with the level of commitment and organization that you have demonstrated during the year. Notices of all meetings with agenda were faxed in a timely manner. Meetings were held to the agenda, no matter how tempting it was to go off on tangents. The three workshops were well planned and well presented. Thank you for your committed leadership!

"In response to your request for suggestions for the future of the Scottsdale Green Building Program, I lean towards strengthening and enlarging our program before we take it Valley-wide. I would like to see the Program encompass residential remodels in addition to new construction before it undertakes commercial buildings. The Green Building Checklist and Rating System is in place to expand into the residential remodeling industry. With all the older homes available for upgrading to energy, resource efficient and low-toxic standards, I think that this is an area that could be a natural extension for the existing Program. I believe that the Arizona Vision Weavers are interested in pursuing an eco-renovation as well, and might be an appropriate organization with which to share information and programs and pursue avenues for public education."

"As 98' closes, I look forward to our next challenges and a continuing role in the over all programs success."

Paul Decker, Decker Homes:

* Encourage consumers to consider the effects that our buildings are having on our environment
* Continue to gather & disseminate information on Green Buildings, product systems & design
* Continue to promote the concept of sustainability
* Broaden our base of builders to include track & the larger semi-custom builders
* Provide education, monetary incentive & publicity for the builders in the program

Tom Hahn, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, ASU & President, Sol Source, Inc.

"Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the progress of the Green Building Program in 1998.

"First, the Program has come an extremely long way toward its initial goals very fast. It seems a very comprehensive program that sets a reasonably high threshold, without being too easy for the average builder to achieve without some thought and commitment. As it stands, it creates an awareness and appreciation for green building and, by its certification, gives value to homes built in this way.

"However, the speed with which the program has come together might now need to be countered with period of reflection and revisitation of the program. The Program should be reviewed in detail to see that it meets its goals in the simplest and least redundant way possible, so that it can be easily understood by builders, and used by them effectively and efficiently. This should include a review of the weighting between categories and within the total threshold score, relative to the current building market and the overall goals of the Program and the City.

"Finally, the City administration should consider this a valuable Program and should consider it worthy of its support. The Program needs support documentation, brochures, a newsletter and marketing materials. The Program cannot be successful if no one knows about it. Its only real hindrance is recognition by the greater building community, and that can be overcome in large part by having the resources to share information about the program."

Denny Miller, Omni Block:

"At your request, I am sending you my thoughts and evaluations of the Green Building program for 1998. To your credit, quite a bit has been accomplished. Your direction and leadership has been invaluable. It is my feeling that if you hadn't been there as a driving force, the program would be about where most other city's programs are and that is virtually non-existent. I think as a whole, the program has had some affect on the home building community.

"For the program to continue to prosper and have a continuing affect on the building community, several areas need to be addressed. I agree with some of the other members of our acting committee that builders should be in the program for the reason that it is the socially responsible thing to do. The planet cannot sustain the current raw material usage indefinitely. Unfortunately, this country is a capitalistic society and competitive market. Only a very small percentage of the consumers have caught on and are willing to pay more for their housing due to Green Building practices. It is the old that is a great idea but let someone else pay for it. So, if building green costs more money, the amount of builders and homes built under the program will be minimal.

"To make an impact in the market, the City of Scottsdale in some methods needs to offer some special incentives to the builder or consumer buying a green home. The city needs to set the example of financially absorbing some of the cost of building green. Otherwise, the City is no different than the builder who says let someone else pay for the green building, which saves invaluable resources.

"I am not well versed in how the City is ran, how policies are implemented, how politics works. It is my sincerest belief that more needs to be done at the City level otherwise all our work will have been for naught. Most builders that I have talked to are disappointed in the program from a marketing standpoint. They want to be involved but find it not worth it and have taken a wait and see attitude.

"I thank you for the opportunity to present my feelings and look forward to the next year to see where it leads us. I have found working with the individuals on the interim committee rewarding."

Beverly Westgaard, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality & Arizona Environmental Strategic Alliance:

"Great stride and model for the valley. The Arizona Environmental Strategic Alliance and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) have endorsed the Scottsdale Green Building Program as a model program for Arizona residential builders. The Alliance and ADEQ will continue to promote this program as an active educator and partner in sustainable decision making for the building industry as a leader in energy and product choice management.

"The Alliance compliments your efforts and looks forward to strengthening our partnership in environmental stewardship."

Richard Zimmerman, AZ Sunshine Publishers:

"Thank you for the opportunity to be involved with both you and Randy Grant developing Scottsdale's Green Building Program. Our program has drawn national attention as a result of your effort and direction.

"During 98', we targeted Builders, Architects, Designers, and product manufacturers during our three, full-day workshops. A Green Building program guide was developed, revised, printed and published on the City's web site. Our firm is publishing a web site, www.E-Frog.com, (Earth Friendly Resources Online Guide), featuring national manufacturers, regional distributors, and local resources for green building products. Our link to Scottsdale's web site will direct builders and consumers to product sources answering the "what & where" materials question.

Our 1999 challenges include:                                                                      

* Green builder water fee credits
* Half-day builder workshops
* Green builder cost comparisons
* Multiple topic workshops
* Plan review and program compliance
* Grant feasibility & application