University of Arizona Drives Tucson’s 2030 District Pledge for Water, Energy Savings

Tucson, Arizona, became the latest 2030 District in December. Tucson’s goals include dramatically reducing water use, transportation emissions, and energy use. Tucson has 10 million square feet committed in its pledge to demonstrate that “high performing buildings can be the most valuable and economical buildings” in the area.

The University of Arizona – particularly its Office of Sustainability – was the driving force behind the city’s move to join the 2030 Districts network.

Specifically, Tucson and the University of Arizona (UA) aim for a 50% reduction in energy and water use, as well as emissions, for existing buildings. New buildings will strive toward carbon neutrality by 2030 in an effort to be economically and environmentally sustainable, writes the UA’s Daily Wildcat.

One initiative of the 2030 District is a program dubbed SCALE UP (Sustinable Communities Accessing Lending and Expertise Upon Performance) geared toward helping businesses save money while reducing their carbon footprints. The program has helped 11 local businesses invest in retrofits and other sustainability initiatives to ensure a more sustainable future, writes Tucson Local Media.

The 2030 Districts Network is a US nonprofit aiming to develop and sustain local 2030 Districts in their drive to achieve the Challenge goals. With over 463 million square feet of commercial building space and over 1,000 member organizations, 2030 Districts are rapidly emerging as a new model for urban sustainability, the organization says.

Current 2030 Districts include Albuquerque, Ann Arbor, Austin, Burlington, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ithaca, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (Maine), San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Stamford and Toronto.

Trevor Ledbetter, director of the UA Office of Sustainability, points out that the partnership is especially relevant at the moment because “we are in a semi-arid environment and we are in the middle of a drought.”

Interest in the 2030 Districts Network is accelerating, the organization told Energy Manager Today in 2017.  “We continue to have conversations with new cities which are showing interest,” Dave Low, the Network Liaison for the 2030 Districts, said. “We feel the recent changes in the political environment may be a driver of interest as there will need to be more local efforts to combat climate change and the 2030 District model is an ideal method for enacting local efforts.”

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