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Indiana development first to earn National Green Building Standard Certification

A neo-traditional community in Northwest Indiana is the first in the country to earn land development certification under the National Green Building Standard, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in January 2009, the ICC-700-2008 National Green Building Standard sets benchmarks and a verification protocol for single-family homes, apartments and condominiums, remodeling, lot and site development, and all kinds of residential construction.

More than 1,000 new homes, renovation projects, and subdivisions are in the scoring process for the standard at www.nahbgreen.org, the online home of the NAHB National Green Building Program. "That is indicative of explosive growth in the two months since the standard was approved," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a builder and developer in Tulsa, Okla.

The Indiana development is a 60-acre parcel carved from unused farm fields and old commercial sites in the town of Burns Harbor, a once-dying steel town an hour from Chicago by train. The successful—and documented—focus on environmental stewardship earned the development its certification, NAHB said.

In laying out the Village in Burns Harbor, developer T. Clifford Fleming protected environmentally sensitive areas, preserving existing vegetation and the natural water and drainage features on the site while adding more plants native to the Upper Midwest. High-density residential areas are connected by sidewalk to the town center, and two South Side railroad line stations are within five miles of the development, providing easy access for commuting. Interstate 94 also runs alongside.

When completed, the community will include a mix of 265 single-family, semi-detached and multifamily homes and a town center with retail, residential, and commercial development. Sixty homes have already been completed, including two single-family homes built by Coolman Communities that were certified earlier this year by the NAHB National Green Building Program.

For homes to be certified, builders must address a range of factors, including energy, resource, and water efficiency; lot design and preparation; indoor environmental quality; and education for the home owner on the operation and maintenance of the green home.

The National Green Building Standard is the result of the efforts of 42 individuals—including builders, architects, regulators, code officials, product manufacturers, and environmental experts—who conducted four public hearings and read through more than 2,000 comments.