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Sundt Construction, Arizona

Sundt Construction Expands To New Mexico, N. Carolina And Texas

Arizona-based general contractor Sundt Construction has expanded its operations, opening three satellite offices in Albuquerque, N.M.; Cary, N.C. and El Paso, Texas. The offices will support active projects in those areas.

“During Sundt’s 122-year history, we have completed projects across the United States and around the world,” said Doug Pruitt, CEO and Chairman of Sundt Construction. “The opening of these satellite offices aligns with our plans for growth, and will help us best serve our current and future clients and partners in those markets.”

The El Paso office supports work underway at the Fort Bliss military installation, including housing projects, tactical facilities and infrastructure, training ranges, tank trails and more. It will also act as the hub for West Texas project work for public agencies and private owners alike.

The El Paso satellite location is the second Texas office to open in the last year and a half. In February 2010, Sundt established a Texas District headquarters in San Antonio in light of its active projects and long history in the Lone Star State, which includes more than 40 years and $1 billion in project work.

In addition to its work at Fort Bliss, the company is working on projects at Fort Hood in Killeen and Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, as well as the Public Safety Answering Point / 9-1-1 Dispatch Center in San Antonio. The most recent Texas project win came last month when the Texas Department of Transportation awarded Sundt a $24.1 million civil construction contract to renovate the W. Seventh Street Bridge in Fort Worth.

In North Carolina, Sundt’s Cary office supports work underway at Camp Lejeune. The company is working for the U.S. Navy Facilities Engineering Command to construct two Marine Corps barracks facilities with a total of 370 units at Camp Lejeune. Sundt hopes to increase its presence throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, where it has a history inclusive of federal and private sector projects.

In New Mexico, Sundt’s Albuquerque office supports work at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Sundt presently serves as the Construction Manager at Risk for the $22 million Chamisa Village project, which includes the construction of three new three-story buildings, associated site development, utilities and self-perform concrete work. The new buildings total 127,000 square feet and will house approximately 300 students in two- and four-bedroom apartments situated around central courtyards.

Designed by Steinberg Architects, Chamisa Village will seek LEED Gold for Homes certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which would make it the first Gold-certified multi-unit university building in New Mexico.

Trilogy at Vistancia, solar homes - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2011

New Master Planned Communities Seek To Bring Back Customers

With the residential market suffering through the Tepid Economic Recovery, homebuilders are devising ways to bring customers back to their new Master Planned Communities. These days, the magic word Is “Green,” as in sustainable. But it also represents energy and money savings for homebuyers.

In the Valley, Shea Homes launched its green initiative (Shea Green Certified) in the fall of 2007. Trilogy homes at Vistancia (601 sold to date) and Encanterra (285 sold) are built according to those standards, which means all homes come standard with more than 20 green energy and cost saving features. American Solar Electric, Arizona’s largest residential solar integrator, has partnered with Trilogy to provide solar roof tiles to all its homes that are built with the Shea Green Certified — Ultra Package.

Meritage Homes is selling residences at two of its communities — Lyon’s Gate in Gilbert and Weston Ranch in Glendale — that include a high-tech package of sustainable features included in the base price of the home.  The future of new homebuilding, with respect to energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainability and green building practices, appears to be a national trend, and even more so in Metro Phoenix.

“In addition to Meritage Homes, Joseph Carl Homes has really distinguished itself with its green and solar features being offered at the CantaMia development in Goodyear,” says Dustin C. Jones, a Phoenix lawyer who publishes the Livability Law Blog. “It has seen a record number of individuals visit the active adult community since its grand opening. I believe that local homebuilders are seeing the need to distinguish themselves from the glut of foreclosed homes in the market and ‘greening up’ is one way to do so.”

Some of Meritage’s features include ECHO Solar Electric/Thermal Systems, spray foam insulation, super high-performance windows, energy-efficient lighting, weather-sensing irrigation, high-performance plumbing fixtures, and a 14 Seer air conditioning unit. All of these features are included in homes from about 1,640 square feet to 3,062 square feet and starting in the $170,000s.

“We spent the last two years working with the EPA, DOA (Department of Agriculture), and building science experts to revolutionize the functionality of a home, while maintaining its price competitiveness,” says C.R. Herro, vice president of environmental affairs for Meritage Homes. “But at the same time, ‘green’ has become a marketing gimmick for everything from soap to homes; that has confused and jaded a lot of consumers. The real work is in allowing consumers to make a more informed decision.”

With the move to green master planned communities, homebuilders and homebuyers both benefit from cost savings. Some homebuilders, such as Arizona-based Robson Communities, are partnering with companies that produce energy-saving products.

Robson also has partnered with American Solar to offer solar electric systems at two of its popular active adult communities, Pebble Creek in Goodyear and Quail Creek in Sahuarita. New homebuyers are also able to select either a 2.5- or 4-kilowatt grid-connected solar electric system at the time they purchase their homes. These systems save $600 and $950 a year, respectively.

“Building green master planned communities is a win-win for everyone,” Jones says. “Not only does the consumer benefit, but the community as a whole. Oftentimes, one can lose sight of the greater good by building sustainable master planned communities.

“This is why the U.S. Green Building Council launched its LEED-Neighborhood Development (ND) designation for such communities. It is important to look at the overall benefit to a community, rather than just doing a zero-sum analysis between builder and homeowner.”
In a special report, “A Green Recovery for America’s Homebuilders?”, Calvert Investments, which advocates for sustainable and responsible investing, updated its 2008 Green Homebuilder rankings based on the environmental and sustainability practices of America’s 10 largest publicly traded homebuilders.

While all 10 have improved their policies and practices relating to the environment and resources, much progress remains to be achieved, according to the report. The homebuilding industry was one of the earliest and most visibly affected segments of the U.S. economy during the recent financial crisis. While new residential building projects are only a quarter of what they were five years ago, the trend in the first half of 2010 is moving upward.  Green building, which is gaining momentum, offers an opportunity to the industry as it focuses on rebuilding its market and restoring financial profitability. Estimated at $36 billion to $49 billion, the green building market is considerable and expected to double by 2013.

In the green building market there is likely a first-mover advantage: companies that make a concerted national effort to integrate sustainability into project siting, construction materials, and construction processes, as well as provide energy, water, and habitat conservation options in new homes will be able to build a brand image as the environmental choice for home construction.

“New green residential construction is much more viable financially (than retro-fitting existing homes),” says Robson Communities spokesman Ross Novotny. “Being able to offer green features to new homeowners allows for costs to be wrapped into a mortgage and is more resource efficient, because older, less efficient products do not need to be discarded in the process.”

The government’s role in the move to more green master planned communities is crucial, experts say. The Obama administration has been supportive of domestically produced energy through tax credits and research money for advancements in green industries.

“An upcoming trend in new home construction may tie in the introduction of electric cars into the mainstream market and installing a solar system on each new home, which can serve as the at-home ‘fuel station’ for the next generation of homeowners,” says American Solar spokesman Matt Neils.
Adds Jones, “The most significant thing that the Obama administration has done to promote green master planned communities is announce the Partnership for Sustainable Housing and Communities, which includes the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Prior to the partnership, these federal agencies operated as silos, in isolation from one another,” Jones continues. “The Obama administration’s appointees recognized that from a sustainability perspective, these departments were inextricably linked. The three departments came together and the Six Livability Principles were announced.

Adds Herro of Meritage Homes: “We couldn’t have achieved this unprecedented accomplishment in energy efficient and sustainable communities without significant partnerships with the EPA, utilities, municipalities, suppliers and trades.”

Arizona Business Magazine May/June 2011

Sustainable Living - AZRE Magazine September/October 2010

Six Ways The Valley's Redefining Sustainable Living

The Sustainable Six: Redefining Sustainable Living in the Valley

It’s been a little more than a year since representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation announced they were teaming up to bolster community and economic development nationwide.

Like a band of caped crusaders, members of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (now the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities) pledged to help create greener, more sustainable communities through six guiding “livability principles” used to coordinate federal transportation, environmental protection and housing investments at their respective agencies.

At the time, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said, “It’s important that the separate agencies working to improve livability in our neighborhoods are all pointed in the same direction. We’re leading the way toward communities that are cleaner, healthier, more affordable and great destinations for businesses and jobs.”

Indeed, that sentiment, and the pot of federal money the Obama Administration has made available — including $1.5B in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and $100M released in June for regional integrated planning initiatives — is proof the suburban landscape is changing.

While there is still much work to do, several Valley municipalities, along with organizations such as the Arizona State University Stardust Center for Affordable Homes and the Family, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the newly formed Livable Communities Coalition, are taking steps toward improving the livability of communities statewide, as defined by these guidelines. Here’s a look at the six principles and how Metro Phoenix stacks up:

1. Provide more transportation choices

While the Valley still has miles to go before we wean ourselves from our auto addiction, light-rail construction is a step in the right direction. Next, stop chasing federal highway dollars and, instead, use light rail as the bait to snare funding to create additional transportation options.

2. Promote equitable, affordable housing

This principle aims to broaden the spectrum and expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.

3. Enhance economic competitiveness

In a January Arizona Republic editorial, ASU President Michael Crow outlined an economic-competitiveness strategy designed to “address long-term priorities, not just the current cycle.” Among other tactics, he called for an aggressive, coordinated strategy to tap out-of-state investment funding from a variety of sources for research, infrastructure and health and welfare. “Not competing to get the tax dollars we send to Washington each year simply makes no sense,” he wrote.

4. Support existing communities

Conventional financing and zoning code issues have become the bane of transit-oriented, mixed-use development and redevelopment efforts Valleywide. However, many municipalities are working to honor historic neighborhoods and update building and zoning codes to encourage adaptive reuse and infill projects. That action will contribute to community revitalization.

5. Coordinate policies and leverage investment

Regional planning and interconnectivity are more important than ever. Valley cities must think regionally, especially if they hope to snare federal dollars.

6. Value communities and neighborhoods

Valley cities such as Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler were beginning to create more livable, walkable communities before the housing market crashed. Now more than ever, development at the people scale, rather than large, single-use tracts, is needed to promote a sense of community.

Livability ranks high on the wish lists of companies looking to relocate. As the federal tide shifts in favor of sustainable living, we need to change with it. Even a place known for its Wild West sensibilities and love of private property rights can learn to adapt.

For more information about the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities and sustainable living, visit portal.hud.gov.

AZRE Magazine September/October 2010