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It’s Easy Being Green: Is Pringle Creek the Greenest Neighborhood?

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Pringle Creek Community in Salem, Oregon, named the 2007 Green Land Development of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders, may be the greenest neighborhood in the country. And what’s more, Don Myers, president of the community’s developer, says, “It’s clean, it’s nice, it’s elegant, it’s all the things that I think are what a lot of people in residential architecture are comfortable with.”

Sustainable Development, Inc., bought 32 acres in Salem in 2004 with the idea of building an entire community developed around the concept of sustainability. The development uses 35 goals to guide planning and construction; these goals are focused on innovative practices such as building an entire neighborhood of carbon neutral homes, encouraging contractors to use biodiesel in construction and heavy equipment, and creating a community garden with plots available for residents to grow food and flowers.

All homes in the development have the option of a geothermal heating and cooling system that reduces heating bills to just a quarter of what they would be with conventional heating methods. And some homes are outfitted with rooftop photovoltaic cells that provide solar-generated electricity, which combined with the geothermal system, could bring residents’ electricity bills down to zero.

The new homes, built while preserving 80 percent of the existing trees, are constructed with 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber. And the neighborhood’s streets use porous paving material that permits 90 percent of rainwater to go through the asphalt and concrete and travel down through rock and soil, eventually entering the aquifer as clean water.

A custom home nearing completion in the development is listed for $432,000. The 1,460-square-foot home scored 103 points from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which gives it the distinction of earning the highest score ever recorded by LEED.

Once the development is finished, it will likely contain 180 homes, and many of them will be carbon neutral. But its title as “the greenest neighborhood” doesn’t stop there. The community is also working on a sustainable living center that will serve as an educational tool offering hands-on learning by workshops and classes, experiential learning by observation and research, and social and educational events.

This feature is part of a new series from CAP recognizing those who are taking action to address climate change and help create a low-carbon economy.

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