COVID-19 Update

The Community Development Department physical office is open to the public. Masks are required for employees and the public and are available at the front doors. All business may be conducted over the phone, online, or in person at the office.

The Sustainable Building Program will continue all aspects of our Program’s work during this time. We will continue to conduct project certification site visits or will work with contractors to obtain documentation of sustainable features. Feel free to reach out to us by phone or email with questions or for project support during this time.

Sustainable Building Tour: Carbon Neutrality Strategies

The Coconino County Sustainable Building Program hosted the 17th annual Sustainable Building Program with the theme of Carbon Neutrality Strategies on September 25th. This was a hybrid in-person and virtual event that allowed folks to see the outside of the building while learning about its sustainability features through the website on their phone.

The tour website is still up, so take the tour! Have a look inside the 9 tour locations here.

The 2020 Sustainable Building Tour- The Superpowers of Sustainable Building is also still available online. Have a look inside the 17 tour locations here.

Every Day Is Earth Day! Activities

Coconino County Sustainability has developed an interactive website dedicated to the National 50th Earth Day as an ongoing resource for the community. This website provides fun and engaging remote activities for everyone, including kids. Each day of the week has a specific theme and activities are time-flexible to support diverse schedules. Themes include transportation, energy efficiency and resource conservation.

Click here  to explore these activities!

Northern Arizona Solar Co-op

Interested in solar but worried about the cost? Join your neighbors in the Northern Arizona Solar Co-op and see the benefit of group pricing!

The co-op is free to join and open to homeowners and business owners in Flagstaff, Sedona, Coconino County, and surrounding Northern Arizona communities. Together, co-op members will learn about solar energy and leverage their numbers to purchase individual solar systems at a discounted group price.

Joining the co-op does not obligate members to purchase solar. Instead, members will have the option to individually purchase panels and electric vehicle chargers based on the installer’s group rate.

 After a competitive bidding process facilitated by SUN, co-op members will select a single solar company to complete the installations. SUN provides guidance on the process but remains vendor neutral, empowering the co-op members to decide. 

While the first group has closed, you can sign up on the waitlist for the next group.

Learn more about the co-op and sign the waitlist here.

New Code for Earthen Construction

 The Building Division, in collaboration with the Alternative Technology Advisory Group (ATAG), has drafted Ordinance 2020-11: Earthen Building Materials and Construction Code. This new code incorporates content from the New Mexico code, ATAG’s recommendations and the IBC code for adobe construction, resulting in a code for adobe, rammed earth and compressed earth block. The Ordinance was approved unanimously by the Planning & Zoning Commission, Building Safety & Advisory Board and the Board of Supervisors and goes into effect January 30, 2021, giving Coconino County its first prescriptive code for earthen materials! See the code here.

User Guide for Potable Rainwater Harvesting

The County’s new Sustainability Aide, Marty Johnson completed a User Guide for Potable Rainwater Harvesting. This project was originally started by one of the Sustainable Building Program’s previous interns, Nichole Gregory. The guide is meant to help folks understand the ordinance for potable rainwater collection and the components of designing and installing a rainwater harvesting system for potable uses such as drinking, bathing and cooking.

New Gray Water Resources!

Learn more about designing and installing a gray water system in Coconino County through these new resources:

For projects utilizing both composting toilets and a gray water system:

Green Features Now Part of the Multiple Listing Service!

One of the important ways to increase the valuation of sustainable homes in the real estate market is through capturing green building features accurately during real estate transactions. A tool for doing this is the inclusion of green data fields in the Multiple Listing Service. Now, through the hard work of the Northern Arizona Association of REALTORS®  (NAAR), our regional MLS has been "greened"! The new green fields went live in November 2019. These fields include everything from Green Label Plus carpeting to third-party certification and everything in between. You can see the added fields in this NAAR Residential Input Form- the green features are signified by a green leaf. A green MLS is a great tool for increasing valuation of sustainable homes because it makes green features of homes visible in the marketplace so buyers can make decisions with them in mind. As part of this effort, NAAR has also developed a Green Disclosure Form. This form can be provided by the seller to the buyer during the sale process to disclose all of the green features of the home.

We appreciate all of NAAR’s work in updating the MLS to capture information on green features, thereby increasing sustainable home values in our community!

New Alternative Technology Advisory Group!

While building codes don’t prohibit the use of any method or material, approaches that fall outside the scope of the building code can be challenging for code officials to evaluate. To address the need for the further evaluation of alternative methods and materials, the Sustainable Building Program worked with the Building Division to develop an Alternative Technology Advisory Group (ATAG). ATAG is structured like Portland Oregon’s similar committee; it is comprised of building professionals who are interested in alternative methods and technologies who can help evaluate these materials for safety and code compliance. After reviewing existing research and codes on a selected alternative, the group will make recommendations to the Building Division. The Chief Building Official will then be able to refer to the group’s recommendation report in making determinations on individual projects utilizing the material or method. The reports will be made available to the public online. See more information about ATAG here and the bylaws for the group here.

The members of the 2020-2021 Alternative Technology Advisory Group are:

  • David Cain, PhD, Coconino Community College
  • Joe Costion, Ashokala Gardens
  • Robert Hernandez, Coconino County

We thank them for their time and effort in serving on the committee!

Innovative Materials and Systems Pilot Program adopted by the Board of Supervisors as an Amendment to the Building Safety Code 

The purpose of the Innovative Materials and Systems Pilot Program is to support community members who are interested in utilizing sustainable and innovative building methods, materials and designs in their rural residential dwellings and the use of such approaches has been identified as difficult to permit prescriptively. 

This Amendment allows a Rural Residential Owner-Builder the option of seeking an exemption from the application of the currently adopted version of the Coconino County Building Safety Code, including the requirement for construction plan review and/or inspections under certain conditions.  It is only available where the property upon which the construction will take place is located in either zoning district General (G) or Agriculture Residential (AR), and has a minimum parcel size of two and one-half (2 1/2) acres or more. Only one dwelling unit can be constructed on the parcel under this Program. This option is only available for new residential owner-occupied construction projects with no more than one (1) story, with a total construction area of 600 square feet or less, and acceptance into the Program is contingent upon the use of alternative building methods, materials, systems or design in the project..

Find more information on the Pilot Program website.

For further information about the Program please call Nina Schmidt at (928) 679-8882 or Amanda Acheson at (928) 679-8853.

New Substantive Policy for the Construction of Greenhouses

Coconino County Community Development has approved a substantive policy for the construction of greenhouses. This policy will allow for the construction of a greenhouse without a permit as long as it is 400 sf or less, built with lightweight framing, wall heights do not exceed 8 feet with a maximum roof peak of 15 feet, and no plumbing, electrical or mechanical is installed with the exception of a standpipe. See the full policy here.

Rainwater for Potable Use Presentation

At the March Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, Project Intern Nichole Gregory gave a presentation on Coconino County's  proposed Rainwater Harvesting for Domestic Use Code and the educational booklet she is developing to accompany it. Click on the image to the right to see her presentation.


Incentives for Green Realtor Certification

The Sustainable Building Program recently began an initiative to promote higher valuation of high performance and sustainable buildings within the local real estate market. We have been hearing from some contractors who are certifying their projects through the Program that the added investment in building high performance homes is not being reflected in appraisal values. One of the goals of the initiative is to increase the number of local real estate professionals that have green designation. If you are a realtor, consider green designation! Click here to see our incentives for green designation. Find more information on the National Association of Realtors Green Designation on their website.

NAR green
Green Realtor Highlight

Tad Moore- NAR Green® Designee

Being a Flagstaff native, I am passionate about helping my clients buy and sell homes in the community I love. Since 2006, I have provided my clients with outstanding expertise and professionalism, and always go the extra-mile to ensure their real estate transaction is one they can look back on fondly. I am always striving to help this great community in any way I can. Sustainable living is a big part of that. From water harvesting, to energy efficiency, to even smart home devices that help homeowners maximize the efficiency of what's already in place, I pride myself in educating my clientson the most current options that can help them be more conscientious about the positive impact we all can make in helping our fragile environment!


Sustainable Building Program Newsletter

Subscribe to the newsletter to learn more about sustainable building topics, current happenings in the Program, projects that are going through the certification process as well as announcements of events related to sustainable building. See and example newsletter here.

Subscribe to our bimonthly newsletter



New Resource- List of Books on Sustainable Building Topics at the Library

Our Coconino Community College Special Project intern, Don Fisher, recently completed an Excel spreadsheet listing 254 books on sustainable building topics that are available at the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library. As it is in spreadsheet format, the entries can be filtered by topic, name, date of publication, author and location. This can be done by clicking the dropdown menu on the heading and choosing the desired category or selection.

The spreadsheet can be downloaded by clicking here.

                                                                                                                                                                      Intern Don Fisher

Update to the Incentives Directory

One of our new Coconino Community College Special Project interns, Camille Clark, has completed the latest revision of the Sustainable Building Program's "Incentives for Sustainable Building" directory! This directory includes tax credits and rebates for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency measures and water conservation features for both new construction and retrofits, residential and commercial. It also lists mortgage products, programs for no interest loans for home maintenance and more. You can find the updated directory here.

Rainwater Harvesting Panel

On September 28th, the Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership hosted a well-attended rainwater harvesting discussion panel as part of the Flagstaff Festival of Science. The discussion included design, installation and maintenance aspects of rainwater harvesting systems for landscaping and potable use.

Presentations included those by:

  • Julie Lied- A local homeowner who has 10,000 gallons of storage for collecting rainwater and treating it for their families domestic water needs.
  • Amanda Richardson of the City of Flagstaff Stormwater section provided a brief overview of Low Impact Development methods used locally.

You can view their presentations using the links at the right.

Julie Leid's presentation

Julie Leid presentation

Amanda Richardson's presentation

Amanda Richardson presentation
Booklet cover small

New Sustainable Development Educational Booklet for the Residential Checklist

Check out the new draft Sustainable Development Booklet for the Residential Construction Checklist, a comprehensive guide to sustainable development in Northern Arizona!

The Booklet, written and designed by intern Nathan Hays, details the components of sustainable building listed in the checklist, explaining their relevance to sustainability, how they are accomplished and how points are assigned to those features for projects that are being certified through the Sustainable Building Program.