By the invitation of the City of Tucson, Arizona, the Trust for Sustainable Development became involved in the development of a "New Town" (within the City limits), which became the Community of Civano in 1995. The Trust arranged, through a public-private partnership, an innovative Municipal Development Agreement with the City, which provided financing for the servicing of the project, as well as other benefits. In return, the Trust planned the most environmentally advanced community in North America.
The goal of the Civano project was to demonstrate the marketability of sustainable community development on a large scale at affordable prices. This 820 acre traditional neighborhood development utilizes proven, available technology to measurably reduce natural resource usage substantially below traditional usage. The property is located on State Trust land in the City of Tucson, southeast of Houghton and Irvington Roads.
Civano addressed the growing desire for a new development pattern that enables people to meet their economic needs, yet maintain social values and ecological harmony. The first neighborhood with 400 homes has a thriving commercial centre . Within eight years, the Community of Civano became home to more than 5,000 people and the location of light industry, offices and retail businesses. Commercial, cultural, and civic activity clustered in the village center will foster a small town ambiance. Half the population and two-thirds of the jobs will be within a five minute walk of Civano's town center.
Businesses in the Community of Civano provide jobs for many of the residents, reducing the need for automobile travel and its attendant air pollution. The plan's aim was to create one job for every two households. Civano has attracted businesses engaged in solar power and other renewable resource fields which are operating on the site.
The Community of Civano buildings use the best available technology including passive solar designs to reduce energy demands. As photo-voltaic electric generation and similar technologies become economic, Civano expects to lead the country in providing alternative power to the community.
Harvested or reclaimed water irrigates xeriscape vegetation and conserves precious potable water. Pedestrian friendly streets together with walking and biking paths, reduce automobile usage for internal circulation.
The Trust for Sustainable Development sold its interest in the Civano project to its operating partner at the completion of the Master Plan. Equity funding for the project was subsequently provided by Fannie Mae Corporation. The projectís 2800 houses, neighborhood and Town Center are complete.