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 1998-2000 News

April 19, 1999

PATH National Pilot Civano Opens First Sustainable Neighborhood Homes . . . Tucson Community to be the Nation's Largest Sustainable Living Development

Colleen Haggerty, Fannie Mae
(626) 396-5225

Lynn Hudson, Civano Development Company
(520) 889-8888

Homes in the nation's largest sustainable mixed-use community are ready for families as Governor Jane Hull and U.S. Representative James T. "Jim" Kolbe (R-AZ) joined U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Dan Reicher, Tucson Mayor George Miller, and Civano's key partners April 16 in Tucson to celebrate the first completed neighborhood homes in the environmentally-friendly Civano. Joining Governor Hull and the other dignitaries at the ceremony were representatives from Fannie Mae (FNM/NYSE), the nation's largest source of financing for home mortgages and majority owner of Civano, the Civano Development Company, the American Lung Association (ALA), Tucson Electric Power Company, and over 500 partners and community members.

"The State of Arizona has supported Civano for over 18 years, spanning five administrations of Governors, and I proudly continue that support," said Gov. Hull. "Civano is a prime example of the 'Growing Smarter' program I developed and the State Legislature approved, to ensure open space and conservation of Arizona's precious natural resources. I applaud the Civano Development Corporation, Fannie Mae and all the public and private partners who transformed the vision of Civano into a reality."

Civano is a 1,100 acre, mixed-use community that serves as a prototype for the next generation of housing and community development, incorporating traditional neighborhood design with the highest standards of resource conservation for 2,600 families. Twenty percent of Civano's residential units will be affordable for low- and moderate-income families. Civano will also create 1,200 jobs through its business and retail center, with businesses built within walking distance from Civano.

"Civano combines the best of city living and maximizes our appreciation for desert dwelling, doing more than pay just lip-service toward the goal of decreasing energy consumption," said Rep. Kolbe. "Completion of the first sustainable neighborhood in an 1,100 acre community designed to house 2,600 families is an example of the benefits society accrues when private sector initiatives blend with greater public's goals for land-use."

Commending the creative project, U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson said, "This new, more livable community, integrating the best in solar technologies and efficient construction practices, is an outstanding example of the success that can be achieved when government and private sector partners work together to address the challenges of the future."

Last year, President Bill Clinton named Civano as one of five national pilot developments under the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH). PATH pilots, selected for their highly innovative technologies as well as for new approaches for land planning and design, are models for the U.S. residential construction industry.

"We are proud that Civano has become the model for building a livable community for the coming century," said Kevin Kelly, president of the Civano Development Company. "Civano has been a group effort from the very beginning, involving the community, government, private business, academicians and experts in planning and environmental engineering to create a classic town setting that meets residents' economic and social needs, in balance with the natural surroundings. Civano's energy standards will save enough energy to prevent one billion pounds of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere."

Construction on Civano's first industrial facility began in 1997, with residential development occurring the following year. The project's future was bolstered with the help of more than $5 million in equity from Fannie Mae's American Communities Fund (ACF), which provides capital for unique affordable housing and community developments that often are difficult to finance through traditional investor avenues. Civano attracted the attention of Fannie Mae because of the environmentally friendly aspects of the community and the construction materials and technology used to build it.

"Civano is a unique opportunity in real estate development," said Kenneth Bacon, senior vice president of Fannie Mae who heads the ACF, which is an 84 percent owner of the development. "Fannie Mae believes Civano is a worthwhile investment in America's new generation of housing, where a neighborhood is created, the beauty of the environment is preserved, and the homeowner is provided with energy efficient housing."

Homes and businesses in Civano will be 50 percent more energy efficient than standard requirements through the use of advanced building technology that substantially reduces depletion of natural resources, such as adobe, straw bale, RASTRA, a recycled styrofoam, and slurry cement panel block. Civano's first building in its Environmental Technologies Business Center has been described by experts as the most environmentally friendly industrial building in Arizona. Its tenant, Global Solar Energy, expects to save $46,000 a year in water and energy costs. Complementing Civano's natural resource-saving efforts is the efficient use of its environmental surroundings, with one-third of the land designated as open space to containing orchards, parks, walking trails and bike paths.

"Tucson is proud to be the home of Civano," said Mayor Miller. "Civano is a realization of a grass roots vision to a more responsible form of development. It is designed to reduce the impact on the fragile desert environment surrounding it, setting an example for communities across the nation. Already, the Tucson Electric Power Company has joined with qualified builders to construct energy efficient homes in Civano with guaranteed comfort, with heating and cooling costs bills for participating homes as low as 79 cents per day."

The city of Tucson has been an integral part of the public/private partnership that has worked to bring the Civano community to fruition. The city has committed municipal improvement district bonds, the proceeds of which will be used for public road and infrastructure improvements for Civano, and has committed to include a recreation complex and park near the community in its municipal bond, to be voted on in 2000.

The 195 homes in Civano's first neighborhood will range in price from $90,000 to $200,000. Custom homes and those constructed with alternative building materials will be available from $150,000 to $300,000, with lots available for sale to individual buyers and custom builders. The first neighborhood contains a one-acre neighborhood center, a cafi, bakery, welcome and educational center, a sales center, and corporate offices. A neighborhood recreation center with tennis, swimming and other facilities will also be opened. RGC, KE&G, T.J. Bednar & Company, Solarbuilt and First Homes are constructing the homes in Civano.

Civano is also one of two 1999 national demonstration sites for the American Lung Association's Health House Project, a national consumer education project focused on improving indoor air quality in the home. The ALA of Arizona is completing construction of two new homes in Civano that will demonstrate the versatility and cost effectiveness of building to the Health House criteria. "The American Lung Association is a partner with Civano because of our shared belief that healthier indoor environments save lives," said Dianne Walsh Astrya, director of the Health House Project. "Civano's strict adherence to environmental standards is a model for communities across the nation and the ALA/Health House intends to promote this effort."

For more information on Civano, please visit on the Internet.

Content updated on 3/8/2005

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