Scottsdale with Green Building Mandates? Is This the Scottsdale We Want?

Photo Credit: Rose Law GroupAhhhh, Scottsdale: the city of beautiful people, great nightlife, fantastic golf and leisure, and…strict environmental building codes.

Wait, what?

Yes, it is true: Scottsdale will become the first city in the state to mandate new “green building codes” to ensure more environmentally friendly materials are used, energy efficiency is emphasized, and water usage is reduced. These codes have been on the books locally for a while, but purely as optional; now they are mandatory.

I recommend checking out the above article as well as the dynamics in council. Councilwoman Solange Whitehead seems to have taken the lead on that initiative (as she has with other environmentally-focused concerns in the city), whereas Councilwoman Tammy Caputi is carrying the pro-growth mantle.

Yes, in theory all of these things are positive. Living in a naturally unsustainable area such as the desert, we absolutely must be cognizant of being wasteful, and water usage absolutely must be front of mind for any and all new developments going forward. And there is the positive aspect of Scottsdale leading from the front in terms of sustainability, which is strange to type out but is actually becoming reality.

That said, I feel compelled to bring up my hesitancy regarding overbearing government mandates, a feeling which both us and Scottsdale voters writ large seem to share. This feels like a mandate straight out of Tempe, something designed to be a feel-good for a strongly Democratic voter base..

Additionally, considering the anti-growth ethos of our city council recently, with the reluctance to say yes and green-light reasonable projects, we must consider how this will be seen amongst those who want to start new businesses here. Considering how high the threshold is to get large scale projects approved through the current iteration of council, can we really afford to push that bar up higher? Scottsdale once did this to benefit the city, but will these additional regulations be no big deal, or will they be dissuasive to quality projects?

Our sustainability issues, and more critically our water crisis, are very real and should be dealt with. I’m not sure that it should be lumped together with more overarching sustainability mandates however, as if Greta Thunberg was sitting in on council meetings and scowling disapprovingly at the concept of anyone considering bringing further joy to our little slice of heaven.

While I applaud best intentions, this does feel like it’s out of touch with the desires and needs of Scottsdale’s voting base, as well as the current business climate here. But ultimately, the voters will have their opportunity to tell us how they feel about it in under two years.