The Sustainability Program
149 North Stone, 2nd Floor
Tucson, AZ 85701
P.O. Box 27210
Tucson, AZ 85726
The City has been a leader in energy efficiency for decades. In the 1990’s the City developed and adopted the Sustainable Energy Standard for all new City buildings. In 2006, Mayor and Council adopted LEED Silver standards for all new City-owned buildings and renovations over 5,000 sq. ft. The City is now working to improve the energy efficiency of City buildings and operations, and to increase the City's use of solar energy. The City is also utilizing the input of energy sector experts to identify additional opportunities for reducing community-wide energy use.
Mayor and Council endorsed the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement in September 2006. Energy efficiency and reducing green house gas emissions are the driving force behind the MCPA. Although all of the goals in the MCPA are related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the goals specifically related to responsible energy use in are guiding the City’s efforts to improve energy efficiency.
Energy-related elements of the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement:
• Inventory global warming emissions, set reduction targets and create an action plan.
• Increase the use of clean, alternative energy.
• Improve municipal energy efficiency.
• Purchase only Energy Star equipment and appliances for City use.
• Reduce fossil fuel consumption by the municipal fleet.
• Educate others about reducing global warming pollution.
This page is dedicated to providing information about the City of Tucson’s departments, codes, plans, programs, and resources related to Energy and Climate Change. Please also visit the Transportation Alternatives and the Smart Growth and Green Building pages of this section for more related information.
General Services Department
The Department of General Services efficiently manages fleet acquisition and maintenance programs, professionally operates and maintains public safety and general services communications systems, and provides technical resources for energy management and telecommunications development.
The Architecture, Engineering, and Energy Management Division operates the City's Energy Office, which administers the Solar America Grant that the City was awarded in 2007.
Doug Crockett, Energy Manager
Bruce Plenk, Solar Energy Coordinator
Planning and Development Services Department
This Department is responsible for current and long-range land use planning functions for the City of Tucson and provides assistance to the community for the building and development process, including permits, zoning, and inspections, and monitors compliance with the land use code, development standards, and building codes.
Housing and Community Development Department
The Department of Housing and Community Development is the City of Tucson Department responsible for administering housing, community development and social services programs.
Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCC)
Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission (MEC)
The Tucson-Pima Metropolitan Energy Commission (“MEC”) was established in 1980 by resolution of City of Tucson Mayor & Council and Pima County Board of Supervisors. The goal of MEC is to serve "…as a catalyst for the City of Tucson and Pima County to build a more sustainable energy future in the region."
City Plans, Codes and Programs
$5.1 million in EECBG funds was allocated to the City of Tucson in March 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development is working with City staff and the community to develop an investment plan for these funds that maximizes energy efficiency gains, greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and job creation.
Solar One Stop
The Solar One Stop is a multi-agency, collaborative effort led by Pima County and the City of Tucson, with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Solar America Communities Initiative. The goal of the program is to spread the news about affordable, quality, and efficient solar technologies for homes and businesses.
Solar Energy System Permit Fee Waiver (Mayor and Council Resolution)
On May 24, 2011, Mayor and Council reinstated the solar energy system permit fee waiver in which, “The Director of the Department of Planning and Development Services (“Director”) shall waive the amount paid by an applicant for a permit for the installation of a Qualifying Solar Energy System up to a maximum of $1,000.00 for any new or retrofit single installations or $5,000.00 for any project or the actually amount of the permit fee, whichever is less, as provided herein.” Click on the hyperlink above to view the Mayor and Council Resolution.
City Solar Map
This map shows City of Tucson solar installations with photos and other information about each site.
Solar Stub-Out Requirements for new residences
On June 17, 2008, Mayor and Council unanimously voted to require all new residences to be solar ready for electric (PV) and hot water. Starting March 1, 2009, all new single family homes or duplexes must include in the plans either a solar hot water system or a stub out for later installation of a solar hot water system in order to receive a building permit.
Mayor and Council adopted an ordinance April 16, 2006 requiring Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver for all City buildings and renovations 5,000 sq. ft. or larger. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. To date, 10 buildings have been completed or are being designed with a minimum LEED Silver standard, including the Pennington Street Garage and the new Reid Park Zoo Conservation Learning Center which has a pending LEED Platinum Certification.
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.
Solar America City
In 2007, the City of Tucson was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as 1 of 13 of the nation’s first Solar America Cities. With the award, the City received a $200,000 grant to be used to help expand the Tucson solar market through accelerated investments and to transform local barriers into opportunities for more solar installations over the next 2 years. Visit the City’s Energy Office for more information about this program.
U.S. Department of Energy Solar America Initiative (awarded Tucson a Solar America City in 2007)
Other Government Programs
Pima County Green Building Program
Pima County Sustainable Action Plan for County Operations (pdf)
Arizona Corporation Commission
The ACC adopted the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff in 2006 which requires electric utility companies to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. Each utility must submit a plan for achieving the standard.
The ACC also adopted a general rule for net metering that requires electric utilities to compensate individuals for the excess solar power they feed into the grid. Individuals that install solar panels now have the potential to get paid for the energy they are producing!
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, cars, fuel cells
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.
Greater Tucson Strategic Energy Plan
A working group was established after PAG and the U.S. Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding on Aug. 8, 2005 to cooperate in the development of a vision and plan that positions the region as a leader in the development of renewable energy, clean energy technologies, energy surety and green building techniques.
Click here for information about State incentives and regulations for alternative fuel vehicles.
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.
TEP Solar Electric Photovoltaic and Bright Tucson Community Solar Programs
TEP has a solar incentive programs for both residential and commercial applications. Bright Tucson Community Solar is a program to fund public installations of solar panels.
TEP Energy Smart Homes
TEP Energy Smart Homes are designed and built to conserve energy and save you money. In cooperation with TEP, a number of Arizona builders are incorporating energy-saving features and building techniques in their new homes.
TRICO SunWatts Program
With the SunWatts rebate program, Trico’s residential and small commercial members can receive a rebate of $4 per installed watt for qualifying systems installed on their homes or small businesses, up to 50% the total cost of the unit.
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.
U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Website
DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.