Blogs > Sara Gutterman > March 2013 > VISION of Excellence

VISION of Excellence

On Monday, we held an extraordinary ‘house-raising’ event for our next VISION House® demonstration project in Tucson, AZ. The event included heartfelt presentations from project builder John Wesley Miller, Green Builder Media President Ron Jones, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, and Congressman Ron Barber that celebrated the launch of a truly remarkable project.

This was no ordinary groundbreaking. The event could more appropriately be described as a ‘ground-mending’, where a number of Tucsonans came together to support the ideal of a sustainable community.

There were three main reasons why the event attracted more than twice as many attendees as we anticipated, and why those participants left feeling moved and inspired.

First, Mayor Rothschild has a big vision for the city of Tucson and seems to be highly respected by the city’s voters. And it’s impossible not to have a personal affinity towards Congressman Barber, who took bullets in the face and leg during the fatal shooting in Tucson on January 8, 2011, which maimed former Representative Gabby Giffords (Barber took over Gifford’s Congress seat in June 2012). His unpretentious character blends well with his intelligence and motivation to affect positive change on the Hill.

The second factor that attracted people to the house raising event had to do with the singularly exceptional qualities of the proposed home itself. The VISION House Tucson will be the first home built to the new Net Zero Energy Standard recently adopted by the City of Tucson and Pima County—a groundbreaking voluntary standard that will hopefully be replicated around the country. With an anticipated HERS rating of negative 17 (the home will be an energy producer and can sell energy back to the grid), as well as exemplary approaches to water, indoor air quality, waste, comfort, durability, and other important sustainable aspects, the VISION House Tucson promises to serve as an example for the next generation of housing in our country.

The third and perhaps most important factor that brought people to the event is the builder himself, John Wesley Miller. John has been a leading builder in the Arizona market for decades. His tireless work to increase awareness about green building and solar energy has enabled him to establish deep relationships nationally and within the Tucson community at large, including homeowners, businesspeople, elected officials, and academicians.

John is no novice when it comes to designing and constructing high performance structures. He was the general contractor of the Biosphere II at the University of Arizona, and has been building super high performance homes in the Armory Park del Sol neighborhood (where the VISION House Tucson is located) for a decade.

In Congressman Barber’s words, “The leadership that John has provided, not only in the home builder community, but in our state and in our country, has been truly remarkable. It's really not hard to understand why Green Builder Media would choose John to build this new demonstration home. The VISION House is going to do something that we don't talk a lot about in this country—the fastest way that we can free ourselves from our reliance on fossil fuels is by increasing energy efficiency, and builders like John can lead us there.”

Ultimately, John’s ability to construct exemplary green homes isn’t his greatest asset. Rather, it’s his aptitude in organizing the community around sustainable principles—helping people understand why it is important to care and to inspiring them to take action—that makes John a true role model for the rest of us in the green building movement.

The VISION House Tucson is one project in one community that is galvanizing support across markets and sectors. There are so many great projects across the country with similar features and aspirations. The fable tells us that it only takes one more snowflake to break the branch and one additional voice to bring peace to the world. Perhaps it will only take one more extraordinary project that garners support from its community to make green truly mainstream.

We want to hear about your extraordinary projects. Write to me at or follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter at @greenbuildermag and @VISIONHouseGBM for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 3/28/2013 12:13:42 PM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

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