Comparing new urban and conventional development in Tucson
Civano is a test case for New Urbanism versus sprawl. The former generates more value according to economic, environmental, and social indicators.
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Civano, designed in September 1996 in Tucson, Arizona, was the first large US community to combine new urban planning and design protocols with — for its time — aggressive energy efficiency and sustainability goals. Civano represents an early understanding that New Urbanism and green development are mutually beneficial.
Civano had a long gestation, dating back to the mid-1970s, starting with the idea of creating a “solar village” to capitalize on Tucson’s abundant sun. I was the director of planning and design at Civano from 1997 through 2002, and managed the project for the last two of those years. Stefanos Polyzoides and his firm Moule & Poylzoides was the principle planner and urbanist for the project. Together we are researching and writing a book on Civano. One of our key findings is that the new urban overlay helped meet the community’s sustainability goals — and did so while creating a compelling physical place that performed well economically and socially.
This mix of New Urbanism and sustainable design could convince a broad segment of the housing market to change its definition of a “good place to live.” We examine three measures of value: home prices, impact on the environment, and the creation of