Arizona builder Maracay Homes crafts its first LEED-compliant community with a touch of ranch-style living
By Jonathan Dean
Photography by Mark Boisclair Architectural Photography
Maracay Homes has been a leader in the Arizona housing market for some time now, building communities that are meant to accommodate just about any lifestyle homebuyers could want with the companies FlexDesign program. The proud homebuilder has now joined the ranks of other inspired homebuilders who have dared to achieve higher standards of sustainable living by creating Maracay’s first-ever set of LEED-compliant homes, thus writing a new chapter in the company’s distinguished history.
“This has been our first venture into LEED for Homes,” said Stephen Burris, Product Development Manager for Maracay Homes. “While we have always worked to offer homes and communities that balance the needs of homebuyers and the ever evolving building science practices, getting the necessary team together from the beginning to talk through and select the appropriate credits helped to shape the project earlier in the process than normal.”
The Territory at Santa Catalina is located in northeastern Tucson, Ariz., just two miles from its sister community, the Ranches at Santa Catalina. Both communities offer FlexDesign® floorplans that range from 2,607 to 3,412 square feet and allow for a level of customization for homeowners regarding the layout of their homes. The Territory community offers four distinct floorplans that can fit just about any lifestyle: the Parker allows 4-5 beds, 2.5-3.5 baths, a 3-car garage, and starts at $429,000; the Kimball allows 3-4 beds, 3.5-4 baths, a 3-car garage, and starts at $450,000; the Cholla allows 4-6 beds, 3 baths, a 3-car garage, and starts at $455,000; and the Pinnacle allows 4-5 beds, 3.5-4.5 baths, a 4-car garage, and starts at $479,000. The community is also within close proximity to Mount Lemmon, Tucson’s highest peak and the southernmost ski destination in the nation.
Beyond FlexDesign® floorplans, each home is ENERGY STAR® certified and comes with Maracay Homes’ LivingSmart® program that increases high performance and cost efficiency. However, Maracay has taken the leap towards achieving LEED status with the Territory and their first step into the larger world of certified green homebuilding that is sure to dominate the homebuilding industry in time.
To become LEED-compliant, Maracay took many things into consideration during the construction phase, including location, site management, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials, and indoor air quality to achieve certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Maracay balanced various arenas of effort to get the LEED seal of approval, including creating on-site retention basins to reduce topsoil runoff, third-party durability testing, installation of high-efficiency water fixtures throughout, energy efficiency levels that achieve HERS scores of low to mid 60s, environmentally-friendly building materials, and installation of Energy Star V3.0 and Indoor Air Plus certified – MERV 11 filters to reduce debris and contaminants in the air. Maracay also took special care to create landscaping that made a minimal disturbance to the natural desert landscape and easy care for homeowners.
As Maracay’s first official effort to create a LEED-compliant community, the process was not without its learning curve for the company. Just like all new things, it was a learning experience for everyone involved. According to Burris, one of the bigger challenges Maracay faced was getting all the paperwork together to ensure that all aspects of the LEED process were covered. “The amount of documentation and coordination with consultants, our LEED Provider, and the trade contractors was like nothing we have done before,” Burris recalls.
Once Maracay was able to secure the fine print, the company was able to construct 10 single level homes on large ranch-style homesites that afford homeowners three-quarters to a full acre of land and a ranch-style entrance to the neighborhood. “Designing and offering ‘ranch style’ homes for our Santa Catalina Community blended well with the surrounding neighborhoods and fit the homebuyer demographic for north Tucson,” Burris added.
Upon entering the community, one can see the rustic styling of ranch life from the beginning in the large swaths of land that separate each home from one another. A single road that loops around a central green space gives visits a grand curb view of each homesite. Upon closer inspection however, these homes are anything but rustic—they are marvels of modern building techniques nestled in the quaint Arizona landscape.
The home exteriors use a warm desert color palette to compliment the stonework accents that encapsulate the front entrance. A sitting area warmed by a brick fireplace for those cool nights outdoors occupies the front space near the entrance, and the roofline is decorated in Spanish-style roofing tile.
Upon entering, the foyer doubles as a wide hallway space that reveals an open floorplan throughout the home with open spaces for a flexible room that could be used as an office, den, game room, etc. and an alcove for a separate dining area. The grand kitchen and great room run alongside one another, offering a beautiful coffered ceiling and a great view of the backyard through large glass doors to the rear of the house. The kitchen grants homeowners lots of cooking space via a large kitchen island and stainless steel appliances.
Through the rear glass doors, visitors will find a pool surrounded by gorgeous stonework and more sitting areas that are covered to protect against the desert sun. If you are entertaining, the covered seating area resides next to a stone stove for keeping warm while you socialize. Beyond the central part of the home, the bedrooms can be found on either side with peaceful views of the expansive homesites. The master suite offers homeowners plenty of room for living as well as sleeping, and the bathroom provides a serene refuge from the daily races.
Though the community was built to satisfy the stringent LEED standards, it maintains a warm and inviting charm that one finds among desert homes. Maracay now awaits the feedback from homeowners to move forward with possibly more LEED projects into the future. For now, lucky residents can enjoy making memories in their extremely efficient, LEED-compliant homes in Santa Catalina under the Tucson sun.
Jonathan Dean is the Content & Social Media Editor for Green Home Builder magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.