America’s Top 10 Best Green-Built Neighborhoods

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Photo Courtesy Kalahari Harlem
Kalahari Harlem includes 125 afforable housing units for long-term Harlem residents.

Our favorite planned communities strive for responsible construction and promote sustainable living. Many are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program; others have local or state certifications for energy efficiency. Here’s a look at our top picks.

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1. Mueller
Austin, Texas

On a former brownfield site, Mueller is a 700-acre mixed-use community that is home to more than 700 families, 25 percent of whom qualify as low-income.

? 140 acres of open park space and hiking and biking trails
? First Texas community to earn silver certification in the LEED-ND program
? Community saves trees from surrounding developments and plants them on park grounds.

2. Madison Street
Chattanooga, Tennessee

A formerly dilapidated neighborhood near downtown, Madison Street is a flourishing artist community filled with galleries, studios and restaurants–and home to Chattanooga’s first LEED-certified homes.

? Homes made with locally harvested and manufactured materials
? Efficient building methods, HVAC systems, windows and appliances; nontoxic interior finish materials
? Native, noninvasive groundcover and permeable paving

3. Northwest Crossing
Bend, Oregon

A 486-acre mixed-used community, Northwest Crossing is near 32 acres of parks and has retail stores, locally owned restaurants and schools.

? All buildings and homes certified by Oregon’s Earth Advantage program
? Site planned to conserve native Ponderosa trees; xeriscaping throughout community
? Mandatory stormwater retention and construction waste recycling 

4. Pine Ridge
Ketchum, Idaho

Affordable housing and easy access to bus lines and bike paths makes eco-living tangible in Pine Ridge.

? Urban infill project on site of an abandoned hotel
? Native, drought-tolerant landscaping
? Eco-friendly and salvaged building materials  

5. Prairie Crossing
Grayslake, Illinois

Prairie Crossing, a progressive, 359-unit, LEED-ND neighborhood, offers an elaborate alternative energy system and an advanced charter school.

? Geothermal system, wind turbine and photovoltaic (PV) solar panels power and heat buildings.
? Former waste site now serves as train station parking lot 
? Certified organic commercial farm

6. Issaquah Highlands
Issaquah, Washington

East of Seattle, Issaquah Highlands is an eco-minded community of more than 3,000 homes powered by multiple energy sources and constructed to Built Green’s 4-Star efficiency level.

? Near High Street Retail Village, where all buildings meet LEED standards; schools and medical facilities onsite
? Stormwater ponds and vegetated bioswales filter sediment and pollutants
? Situated on 1,400 acres of preserved forestland; more than 25 parks and recreation areas

7. Mosier Creek
Mosier, Oregon

Mosier Creek, a LEED Silver- and Earth Advantage-certified neighborhood with 22 homes and 12 apartments, has direct access to the historic Columbia River Highway State Trail, a 10-mile bike and pedestrian path.

? PV and solar thermal in all units
? Previously landfill site for Interstate 84 construction waste
? Solar-heated saltwater pool

8. Kalahari Harlem
New York, New York

Half of this community’s 250 homes were sold as affordable housing to long-term Harlem residents. Kalaharin Harlem houses a youth community center, a café and community gardens.

? Onsite solar panels for public areas; 25 percent of the community’s energy is from renewable sources
? Green rooftops with native and drought-resistant plants
? Onsite Zipcars (car-sharing program) 

9. Garden Atriums of Poquoson
Poquoson, Virginia

Garden Atriums of Poquoson features flooring made from recycled oak ship planks, HardiePlank exterior siding and metal roofs from recycled cars.

? Net-zero homes featuring PV and closed-loop geothermal systems
? Rainwater harvesting supplies 95 percent of landscape water needs.
? Fruit orchard and chemical-free vegetable gardens on property; community composting site

10. Pringle Creek
Salem, Oregon

Pringle Creek features a porous asphalt and pervious concrete street system for rainwater management and an onsite biodiesel co-op with 60 members.

? Two restored greenhouses used as native plant conservatory; 80 percent of trees preserved; 100 fruit trees and 300 blueberry bushes planted
? 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber
? Geothermal heating and cooling system for 70 residential lots and all the Village Center commerical buildings