Energy efficiency can be incorporated into a development or business in many different ways, from building design to the products used for operations. Making energy efficient choices reduces greenhouse gas emissions and decreases your contribution to global warming. Start by determining your carbon footprint (the amount of greenhouse gases your business is currently emitting through operations) and review where you are using the most energy. Try for online tools to calculate your carbon footprint. Then look for ways to reduce your energy use. The tools on this page will help you make decisions to reduce your energy consumption and save you money!

Also visit the Green Building and Smart Growth and Transportation Alternatives pages of this section for more information related to reducing energy use.

Land Development

Where a development occurs will have an impact on the energy consumption of the project. Development that occurs near existing infrastructure will save energy that would have been spent to extend infrastructure to the development. Infill developments often require shorter vehicle trips for people to access services, and encourage people to utilize alternative modes of transportation. A well-planned site design can achieve these goals and add to the sustainability of the community.


Infill Fee Waiver Program

Mayor and Council initiated the Infill Fee Waiver Program in 1997. They identified an area encompassing approximately 22% of the city, where a reinvestment strategy could be used to spur building and rehabilitation. The program waives fees for plan check and building permits for single family homes.

Downtown Infill Incentive District

Mayor and Council created this Incentive District on October 24, 2006 to encourage development in the downtown area. Developments that occur within the district boundaries may be eligible for fee waivers and expedited permit processing as well as other incentives.

Rio Nuevo Overlay District Design Standards

Development Standard NO. 9-10.0 establishes design standards for development in the Rio Nuevo and Downtown Zone.

Building Construction

How buildings are designed has a lasting impact on the future energy consumption of the structures. Building a structure to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency saves money and reduces the built environment’s impact on global warming.


Programs and Codes

Sustainable Energy Standard

In 1998, the City adopted the Sustainable Energy Standard (SES) for all new City buildings. The SES consisted of a modification to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and was developed to serve as the statement of energy requirements for all buildings in Civano. The intention of the SES is that it would also serve as a voluntary sustainable energy standard for other buildings throughout Tucson and Pima County. The SES requires that building energy efficiency is improved by at least 50% over the IECC guidelines. A full copy of the Code is available in the City Clerk’s Office in Chapter 6, sec. 6-40 of the Tucson Code.

International Conservation Code (ICC) Green Building website

Highlights of the forthcoming ICC/NAHB National Green Building Standard, development of Green Building Certification for Inspectors, and other related information.

Pima County Green Building Program

Contains information on the LEED for Homes program and Net Zero Building.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

The LEED Green Building Rating System was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council as a benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.

Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council

EPA Energy Star

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

Incentives for Energy Efficiency

Arizona Residential Solar Tax Credit Guidelines and Procedures

The state of Arizona offers a solar tax credit for 25% of the cost of an approved solar device or system. The maximum allowable credit is $1,000 to be carried forward up to five years: it is deducted directly from state taxes owed.

Federal Tax Credits for Solar Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency

One stop informational hub for federal tax credits and IRS forms available for:

• Consumers: solar energy systems, home improvements, vehicles, fuel cells

• Home Builders

• Appliance Manufacturers

• Commercial Buildings

HUD Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

The Energy Efficient Mortgages Program (EEM) helps homebuyers or homeowners save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy-efficiency features to new or existing housing as part of their FHA-insured home purchase or refinancing mortgage.


Financing an Energy Efficient Home

There are two types of energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs): one for a new home and one for an existing home. With an EEM, you can purchase or refinance a home that is already energy efficient, or you can purchase or refinance a home that will become energy efficient after energy-saving improvements are made. Most energy-efficient financing programs offer both types of EEMs, as well as home-improvement loans for making energy-efficiency upgrades to your existing home.

Center for Energy and Climate Solutions Cool Companies

The Center was founded to promote clean and efficient energy technologies as a money-saving tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Visit the “How-To” Guide for business strategies to reduce energy use and save money.

Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association

This site includes a member services directory for finding vendors in your area.

Purchasing and Operations

If your business occupies a space that has already been developed and built, there are still steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your workplace. Reducing energy use can be as easy as changing your light bulbs and choosing energy efficient office products. Revising your procurement policies will ensure you are purchasing office equipment that works for you—by saving you energy and money!


EPA Climate Change Website: What Businesses Can Do

The commercial industry can go a long way to help the United States bring down its emissions. This section of EPA's Climate Change site provides examples of the contributions businesses have made towards reducing U.S. emissions; how to educate their industry, consumers, and employees about global warming; and what further steps can be taken to further "lead by example."

A Business Guide to U.S. EPA Climate Change Partnership Programs (pdf)

Energy Star Purchasing & Procurement

These EPA resources are designed to assist procurement officials in smart purchase decisions. Take advantage of online training to understand the full range of purchasing opportunities.

Energy Star Product Guide

Products in more than 50 categories are eligible for the ENERGY STAR. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. 

Energy Star - Compact Florescent Light Bulbs

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

Energy Star – Office Equipment

Office Equipment — from computers and monitors to imaging equipment, such as printers and copiers — that has earned the ENERGY STAR helps eliminate wasted energy through special energy-efficient designs. They use less energy to perform regular tasks, and when not in use, automatically enter a low-power mode.

Energy Star - Heat & Cool Efficiently

As much as half of the energy you use goes to heating and cooling. This website has information to help you save energy.

EPA WaterSense

Saving water also saves energy because it takes energy to deliver water. Look for the WaterSense label to choose quality, water-efficient products.


Engaging your workforce in efforts to reduce energy use encourages a sense of personal responsibility for reducing your impact on the environment. Saving energy is about changing individual and workplace habits. Collaborate with employees to develop an Energy Reduction Program that will make you feel good about making positive choices and save you money on your electric bill!


Simple steps employees can take to reduce energy consumption include:

• Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Many businesses encourage employees to use the stairs if you are going up one floor or down two floors.

• Turn off your lights when you are leaving your office. An alternative is to install lights with sensors.

• Shut down your computer before you leave work at the end of the day.

• Don’t print material that you can access online or store electronically.

• Walk or ride a bicycle to meetings near your office. Consider starting a bike-share program where employees can check out a bicycle to ride to meetings.

• Ride a bicycle or use public transportation to get to work once a week.

• Start a carpooling program.

• Offer flex schedules that allow employees to work from home once a week or that keeps employees out of morning and evening rush hours.

    City of Tucson City Cycle Bike-Share Program Model

    Learn about the City’s bike-share program to help you develop one for your business.

    Pima Association of Governments’ RideShare Carpooling Program

    Carpooling and vanpooling options are available through Pima Association of Governments’ RideShare program, which offers a free matching service for people interested in sharing the ride. Commuters sharing the ride may be eligible for the Guaranteed Ride Home program, which provides free taxi rides home from work when there is a family emergency or unscheduled overtime.

    For more information about RideShare programs or to request a personalized carpool matchlist, please call (520) 884-RIDE (7433).