Memphis Heritage Solar Uprising
Memphis Heritage Solar Uprising
Memphis Heritage Solar Uprising

Memphis Heritage Solar Uprising

In Progress


An Innovative Public Private Partnership using Solar Energy to Revitalize an Historic Downtown Community

Awarded:: Participant

Team Information

Team Lead
Jimmie Tucker
Team Lead LinkedIn Profile
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Project Description

Project / Program Description

The Universal Life Insurance Building, constructed in 1949, was the former headquarters of one of the largest African-American owned life insurance companies in the United States. Jimmie Tucker and Juan Self, of Self+Tucker Architects, are leading the effort to renovate the existing 33,000 SF structure into sustainable multi-tenant office spaces while preserving the building’s historic character. 

The City of Memphis has agreed to locate a hub for small and minority business development in the building. This innovative city agency will occupy 47% of the tenant space and Self + tucker Architects will lease 20% of the available space to relocate their office. Self+Tucker Architects’ partnership with the City of Memphis has created an opportunity to revitalize one of the most prominent anchors proposed along the “Memphis Heritage Trail.” Once renovated, the Universal Life Insurance Building will be a vital neighborhood asset for entrepreneurs, employment and tourism.

Designed to achieve LEED Gold Certification, the Building integrates solar panels, a green roof, water collection cisterns, native drought-tolerant plants, rain gardens and numerous other sustainable features. The building’s interior will maximize the use of natural light and incorporate products that contribute to a healthy indoor environment. The high-performance building will also include a highly efficient HVAC system, LED lighting, low flow fixtures, low VOC paints & sealants, and materials with high recycle content. 

To incentivize alternative forms of transportation, Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations will also be featured, , along with bicycle parking, and a shower.  The Universal Life Insurance Building will illustrate to Memphians  and the rest of the world, the resounding impact progressive, sustainable architecture can have on its local community.  

The project is a mixed finance venture that has received Qualified Energy Conservation Bond Funding from the City of Memphis.  This forgivable loan will allow the installation of a 50 kW Solar PV Parking Canopy without the developers needing to raise additional capital.  This Solar Array will offset approximately 20% of the anticipated electrical consumption by to the governmental organizations, non-profits and for profit companies that will be located within the building.

One of the primary goals of our participation in the Solar in Your Community Challenge will be to develop strategies for continuing the expansion of the Solar PV System to achieve at least a 50% offset of the anticipated electrical consumption by the building’s diverse tenants. We also want to Expand our local work force program offering “green collar” job training for neighborhood residents.

Many programs and efforts are underway in Tennessee to promote sustainability but they often do not impact nor resonate with residents of transitional neighborhoods. By installing a highly visible solar PV systems, Self+Tucker Architects expects to accomplish multiple economic and environmental objectives such as: increasing public awareness of the advantages of solar PV installations; creating local green jobs;; educating clients and the community regarding the benefits of renewable energy; experiencing a substantial reduction in electricity costs in our building; increasing regional production of solar energy; and enhancing Memphis’s reputation as a sustainable community and a leader in effective environmental initiatives.