Uncategorized: Water Wise Landscape Rebates, Utah and Sacramento

It’s no secret, traditional lawns waste water. With offices in Salt Lake City, Utah and Sacramento, California; Architectural Nexus has some helpful information to share for a more water wise landscape in Utah and Sacramento.

During the 2022 session, the Utah Legislature approved $5 million for a statewide grass removal rebate program. There’s been tremendous interest in this program and the state is working to launch the first statewide turf buyback program in the country! Click here to sign up for updates.

In Sacramento, the River-Friendly Landscape Program offers several types of rebates to residential and commercial customers to help pay for water-efficient upgrades. Conserve water and money by utilizing the Turf Conversion Rebate, Landscape Design Assistance, Smart controller Rebate, Irrigation Upgrade Rebate, the Rain Barrel Rebate and the Laundry to Landscape Rebate!

Here’s one more helpful hint: Replace turf with native plants. Type in your zip code at Native Plant Finder for free information on good planting choices in your area

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News: Sacramento Mayor Steinberg Holding Press Conference at Arch Nexus SAC, Major Announcement

The Sacramento City Council is poised to take a major step toward meeting its climate change goals when it votes Tuesday on an ordinance requiring new homes, low-rise apartment buildings and commercial structures to run entirely on electricity starting in 2023.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg will join the leaders of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District to highlight the benefits of the ordinance. Speakers will also include a representative from the environmental community and an infill developer. The press conference will be held at the Sacramento headquarters of architectural firm Architectural Nexus (Archnexus), the first certified living building in California and one powered entirely by solar-generated electricity. Read more here. Archnexus will offer media tours after the program. Attached to this advisory is a summary of the ordinance and frequently asked questions.

  • What: Press conference on electrification ordinance coming to City Council on June 1
  • When: 11:30 a.m., Thursday, May 27
  • Where: Archnexus building, 930 R St. (in back parking lot, under solar panels)
  • Who:

Mayor Darrell Steinberg

Paul Lau, CEO and General Manager, Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Alberto Ayala, Executive Director, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District

Kendra Macias Reed, Sacramento City Planning Commissioner and infill developer

Kate Wilkins, environmental scientist and board member of 350 Sac, a local group working to fight climate change

Cheryl McMurtry, Associate, Arch Nexus



Summary of electrification ordinance

Sacramento has some of the worst air quality in the nation. Burning gas in our cars or in our homes not only contributes to dirtier air and ozone, but it exacerbates risk for respiratory disease. Burning gas also creates greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. When new buildings use electricity rather than natural gas, these buildings are not just better for the environment and the health of those living in them, but they are also cheaper in almost every development type. Studies show that residents in these new electric buildings will also save hundreds of dollars in electricity costs. Constructing new buildings to be all-electric takes advantage of the clean power that SMUD produces, maximizing the benefit of SMUD’s commitment to zero-carbon electricity by 2030.

Shifting new buildings to electricity ensures they are clean, affordable, and resilient. This is why building electrification is a key principal for the 2040 General Plan, as committed by the City Council.


By constructing new buildings to use only electric appliances, Sacramento can realize cost reductions and benefits in health and air quality improvements.

The New Building Electrification Ordinance takes a balanced, phased approach. With delayed effectiveness that varies based on development size and type, the City is ensuring that developers have time to adequately plan and prepare for implementation. The ordinance includes limited exemptions and an infeasibility process, to accommodate technical challenges and ensure that the ordinance is not a barrier to construction.


Key points:

  • What is the ordinance? The ordinance requires that new buildings be all-electric, with no gas or propane infrastructure. The ordinance slowly ramps in by development type and size, from 2023 to 2026, starting with residential and commercial buildings of three stories or less.
  • What does the ordinance apply to?
    • Only to new buildings, with limited exemptions and a process to accommodate infeasibility.
    • The ordinance does not apply to existing buildings, remodels of existing buildings, tenant improvements, or expansions.
  • Who will this affect? Only those developing new buildings. The ordinance doesn’t apply to existing construction.
  • Why is the City doing this?
    • Electrifying new buildings is a key strategy to ensure new buildings are efficient, clean, and resilient. In August 2020, City Council prioritized the ordinance as a critical near-term action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve climate goals. The ordinance advances a key recommendation of the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change.
    • When you use gas in your home, such as a gas stove for cooking food, the combustion creates air pollutants – not only does this pollution create dirtier air and contribute to ozone, but studies have shown that using a gas stove increases the likelihood of asthma in children by 42%.
    • Long-term, electric buildings are more resilient and can use the renewable power that SMUD generates. SMUD has committed to 100% clean power by 2030.
    • Electric buildings will save residents money over time. One study estimated that over a 30-year period, residents in new electric construction would pay less in energy bills by approximately $5,349 in single family housing and $2,337 in low-rise multi-family.[1] SMUD also has the lowest electricity rates in the state, meaning that going all-electric in Sacramento will yield the biggest ratepayer benefits.


  • What about costs to build new construction? Building without gas is cheaper  in almost all circumstances, and SMUD incentives are available to further reduce costs.
    • Accounting for both the City’s EV standards and all-electric requirements for residential buildings, data suggests that construction savings ranges from over $6,000 (for a mid-rise, ~88-unit development) to over $60,000 (for a low-rise multi-family project with 8 dwelling units), based on cost-effectiveness studies for SMUD territory.[2]
    • Construction costs for all-electric high-rise multi-family vary depending on project design and how hot water heating is addressed, but are offset by SMUD incentive. While the cost increase for all-electric mid- to high-rise unit can range from a savings of $228 per unit to a cost increase of $557 per dwelling unit, SMUD electric incentives range from $1,750 – $5,000 unit, offsetting the cost.
    • Also, gas rates are forecasted to increase because gas infrastructure is costly to maintain and keep safe. Residential gas costs are forecasted to increase from just about $1.3 per residential therm today to an estimated $18 per therm in 2050[3]  (the average home in Sacramento uses about 300 therms per year; without a managed transition, annual average home gas costs in Sacramento would increase from approximately $400/year today to over $5,400/year in 2050).
  • Why is the City doing this now in the midst of COVID19? New development often takes years to plan. By passing the ordinance now, Council is sending a strong signal to inform financial decisions and infrastructure planning, so that developers are ready for implementation when the ordinance goes into effect in 2023.
  • How will this impact new business and housing construction?
    • The ordinance includes limited exemptions and infeasibility process, to ensure it does not place a barrier on business or housing development. This means that new restaurants can build with a gas stove, or a new manufacturing facility could include gas equipment for high-intensity process loads where technology may not be widely available. Hot water heating in regulated affordable housing is also exempt from the ordinance until 12/31/25.
    • Stakeholders will be invited to advise staff to develop infeasibility criteria, to ensure that the process is clear and transparent for applicants, and to identify technologies that may not be market ready, or project-specific conditions that may make all-electric infeasible. A range of representatives will be involved including those representing manufacturing, business, development, restaurants, equity and environmental justice perspectives, cultural perspectives, technical and engineering expertise, and labor.
    • The City will work closely with SMUD to ensure availability of educational materials and resources to assist developers with the transition to all-electric construction.
  • What other cities have done this? 44 other cities in California have adopted electrification ordinances that are in effect already or go into effect before 2023, including San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.
  • What about existing buildings?
    • The ordinance does not regulate existing buildings, and there’s no proposed requirements to retrofit or replace of appliances in existing buildings.
    • On June 1st, staff are also recommending a framework to City Council for an 18-month planning process to evaluate options and develop a strategy to decarbonize existing buildings over the next twenty-five years. To develop this strategy, the City will conduct a technical analysis and lead extensive stakeholder engagement. The proposed framework does not include new retrofit mandates, but outlines a planning process to develop recommendations for City Council.
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Publicity: Trimtab: How Retrofitting Can Fight Climate Change

The official blog of the International Living Future Institute, Trim Tab, shares a unique look at the how retrofitting working-class buildings can sequester carbon and fight climate change. Michael D. Berrisford, Editor-in-Chief of Ecotone Publishing, discusses what makes the subject of their latest release, Regenerative Retrofit: California’s First Living Building, so special.

The Arch Nexus SAC regenerative retrofit is so much more than a shiny solar-powered, high-performance brick and mortar landmark adorned to garner “oohs” and “ahhs.” Nor is Arch Nexus SAC a green technology showcase trimmed out with futuristic tech, instantly iconic for its statuesque architecture and stately skyline posture. While it does have numerous verdant features such as the biophilic-inspired daylighting plan and living wall, robust solar capability, composting toilets, and right-sized cisterns, in actuality, Arch Nexus SAC’s shine comes from its undeniable success as a smart, practical, fully-functioning Living Building that has been bootstrapped from its humble industrial origins as a 1950s-era warehouse. 

Further, the building and its owner/occupants are notable for meeting timely objectives linked to the proliferation of crises facing California. Through this building, and pretty much every action they take these days, they are responding positively to the consequences of climate change such as recurrent droughts, intense wildfires, increasing extreme temperatures, and power grid insecurity–all the while connecting to the social fabric of their local community. 

The Arch Nexus office in Sacramento is a people-driven, thoughtfully designed building transformed from traditional building stock to an architectural gem that impressively reduces its carbon footprint. It generates energy and collects water like one of nature’s systems and provides a healthy and engaging physical workplace environment for its knowledgeable and creative occupants. Working-class building retrofits like the Arch Nexus SAC office transformation represent a viable–and now proven–opportunity for addressing climate change.

See the full article here.

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Thought Leadership: AIA Central Valley: Healthy Materials Symposium

On Thursday, June 7th AIA Central Valley presents the Healthy Materials Symposium. The event will feature nine experts through three different sessions, exploring the impacts of materials on human and environmental health, learning of the tools available for prioritizing healthy materials, and identifying strategies for project teams to make informed decisions that promote healthy and sustainable environments.

Featured Speaker: Alex Muller is the Manager for the Living Product Challenge (LPC) at the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). The LPC is an international product sustainability framework and certification program, incentivizing the creation of healthy, regenerative products for all. Alex works daily with manufacturers pursuing the program on supply chain issues, material health and life cycle analysis; and with the program’s third party assessors to continually streamline and evolve the program, to scale its adoption.

Arch|Nexus Director of Sustainability, Patty Karapinar, will present during session 2: Identifying Tools of the Trade. Patty has thirty years of professional experience, including her recent work on the Arch|Nexus SAC location – the first Living Building in California and the first Living Building that is an adaptive reuse of an existing building.

To read more about the symposium or to register, click here.

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Thought Leadership: Earth Day Festival at Urban Agriculture Garden

Employees from Arch|Nexus SAC participated in an Earth Day festival at Sutter Middle School. Using the school garden designed by Arch|Nexus, the  garden club harvested vegetables, cooked up a meal and served it at the event.

Arch|Nexus and Sacramento City Unified School District worked together to create the Urban Agriculture Garden at Sutter Middle School. The project helps the Arch|Nexus SAC office in their effort to become the first certified Living Building in the state of California. Since the project area at Arch|Nexus SAC could not support all of the urban agriculture garden space required to fulfil the Urban Agriculture Imperative of the Living Building Challenge, the project has utilized an option known as Scale Jumping, which allows cooperation between projects and neighboring properties, to create solutions otherwise not possible.

The Urban Agriculture Garden at Sutter Middle School uses the same sustainable methods used to create Arch|Nexus SAC and includes solutions that support California’s water conservation goals.  The garden has been designed to use collected rain water as its source for water. Rainwater is collected on the roof of the main school building, then directed to building roof drains and gravity fed directly into two above grade cisterns. Rainwater is stored and distributed as needed for garden irrigation. Additionally, all of the materials used to create this garden have been thoroughly vetted to be Red List compliant, meaning they are free of harmful chemicals.



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Arch Nexus SAC: Experience Architecture: COTE Top Ten Exhibit

Arch Nexus is proud to host the Experience Architecture: COTE Top Ten Exhibit, the industries premier program celebrating great design and great performance. Now in its 21st year, the Top Ten Awards highlight sustainable projects that protect and enhance the environment. Exhibit opens during Sacramento’s Second Saturday in September. Click here for more details.

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Arch Nexus SAC , News: Luna Cycles featured in CODA WORX

One of the more visible features of our Sacramento office building, Arch | Nexus SAC is the public art installation which doubles as a bike rack and triples as a public seating area. CODA WORX magazine (Collaboration of Design + Art) has recently published an article featuring this installation known as Luna Cycles. CODA’s mission is to raise awareness about environmental and social issues as well as develop community engagement and pride through the inclusion of public art.

The article highlights the unique challenges and opportunities of creating a public art piece for a Living Building. In the article, artist Jay Stargaard says “Living buildings are regenerative spaces that are designed to be self-sufficient, giving more than they take in water and energy resources. The bike rack sculpture communicates the unique values of the renovated building while encouraging community connection.”
To see the full article at CODA WORX click here.

luna-cycles-vertical-pedestrian-view-copy luna-cycles-lengthwise-copy

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Arch Nexus SAC , News: We’re Getting Close! Arch Nexus SAC Ribbon Cutting

It is almost time to celebrate the Ribbon Cutting of Arch | Nexus SAC. Plan to arrive early as the party will begin on Thursday, March 2nd at 9:30 AM sharp with remarks from Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Councilmember Steve Hansen and Arch Nexus President Kenner Kingston. Afterwards, you can take a tour of the building, party with some of our R Street neighbors, and enjoy live music by Humble Wolf!

Check out our preview.

We look forward to seeing you!

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Arch Nexus SAC , News: Ribbon Cutting Block Party

Now that we have moved in, we invite you to join us at our Ribbon Cutting Event. Afterwards, Arch Nexus, along with our R Street neighbors, will be throwing a Block Party! Please mark your calendars for March 2nd from 9:30-11:30 AM and expect more details soon on what will be a fun event for everyone.

To add this event to your calendar, please visit http://eepurl.com/cAh1NH

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Arch Nexus SAC , News: Arch Nexus Sacramento R Street Office Opens!

After many arduous but very gratifying months of design and construction, the new Arch Nexus Sacramento R Street office opened for business today! Relocation from the 3rd Street office occurred over the last couple of days of 2016. The renovated building will double the capacity for occupants to help meet the needs for our growing business in the Sacramento and central valley regions. Additionally, this new office incorporates an unprecedented number of sustainable design features, such as a cutting edge composting system, on site agriculture, on site water filtration and treatment, and energy independence by means of highly efficient electrical systems and a solar PV array, just to name a few.


Our objective of designing and building California’s first Living Building has now crossed a major threshold and our focus turns to occupying and working in such a high performance building. Training for the employees has been underway for some time and systems commissioning is now in progress. Once we have registered 12 consecutive months of meeting some very strict performance standards our Living Building journey will be complete.

The new address for the Arch Nexus Sacramento office is:
930 R Street
Sacramento, Ca. 95811

Stay tuned for information regarding a ribbon cutting and gala at which time tours can be arranged. Until then we invite you to visit the Arch | Nexus SAC website at dev.archnexus.com/arch-nexus-sac/ which will be updated regularly as we move through the performance period. Lastly, and as always, wish us luck as we pursue Living Building Certification in 2018!

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