Tucson Electric Power moves into new energy efficient building downtown

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The long anticipated new home of Tucson Electric Power is complete.  The ribbon cutting ceremony took place Tuesday in downtown Tucson.

The building is not just home to 500 employees but also an experiment in energy conservation and efficiency.

Unisource Energy employees and city leaders are excited to open up the new downtown headquarters.

"Tucson Electric Power has been part of this community for more than 100 years.  Downtown is really where we belong," said Director of Corporate Communications at Tucson Electric Power Joe Salkowski.

As Southern Arizona's largest energy company, Unisource, the parent company of Tucson electric power, is using the new headquarters as not just home to 500 employees, but an energy experiment in itself.

"We have very efficient heating and air conditioning; 20% higher efficiency than is required.  We also have solar panels on the roof," said Salkowski.

Even though it doesn't do as much good on a rainy day like Tuesday, the Unisource building has solar panels on the roof for a solar water heating system.

And on the rainy days, the new building is still making do. There is a 150,000 gallon cistern under ground to collect rainwater. They will use it for irrigating the vegetation surrounding the building.

"So it really does set a strong example for energy efficiency and renewable energy," Salkowski said.

The building is also using a lot of natural light.  And even the elevators generate power while going down.

But it's the building's location that has the City of Tucson excited, as there now will be 500 more workers downtown, helping revitalize the economy there.

"To a lot of our employees, this is brand new; the opportunity to walk out the door and have so many restaurants and businesses available to us," Salkowski said.  "These are folks who have been working in another part of town. They are very excited."

The building also has retail space, which is still under construction.