CSDA winners by category: Sustainable Communities

[csda] sustainable communities

1st place
Geos Net-Zero Energy Neighborhood

Architect: Michael Tavel Architects and David Kahn Studio
Geos will be the largest net-zero energy, urban mixed-use neighborhood in the United States. Earth and sun power will completely sustain the community’s energy needs, and replace all fossil fuels. The project will consist of 282 dwelling units on 25.3 acres, including 8.5 acres of parks and 12.1 acres of parcels. The neighborhood is intertwined with natural systems, stormwater-fed landscapes, and civic places. Rain and snow melt feed street tree rain gardens, percolation parks, plazas and community gardens. Geos received final development approval from the city of Arvada and will begin construction in late fall 2009. This is a demonstration project in sustainable urbanism intended to encourage advancements in resource conservation in the American homebuilding industry.

Sustainable features
• The project’s solar orientation is designed to reduce energy demands by one-third. Deciduous trees have been selected to shade east- and west-facing windows in the summer but not shade photovoltaic panels – even in winter.
• Geothermal, solar thermal and photovoltaics are utilized for remaining energy needs. No fossil fuels or natural gas are provided to the site. Ground-source heat is provided through a horizontal loop field.
• “Percolation parks” are threaded through the neighborhood as common greens. These are usable, “mixed-use” greens that support urban agriculture, child play and wildlife habitat.

Judges’ comments

This plan for a project in Arvada aims to be the largest net-zero energy, urban mixed-use neighborhood in the United States. It combines an appreciation for an urban street network with interesting ways to orient the homes in a checkerboard pattern to best collect sunlight, with the “front” yards actually being on the side. The project has a great stormwater management system and strong architecture. This could be the first net-zero energy community that also features the lowest possible price, with relatively affordable homes and no energy bills. We can’t wait for construction to start.”


2nd place



South Main Neighborhood
Submitted by South Main co-founder Katie Selby Urban and Director of Marketing Dustin Urban


South Main is a compact, dense, mixed-use neighborhood on an infill site previously used as a trash dump. The design concentrates open space on the Arkansas River, providing acres of riverfront park area frequented by residents of South Main, Buena Vista and the general public. The project encompasses 41 acres, with 327 residential units ranging in size from 740 square feet to 5,900 square feet, with an average living space of 2,039 square feet.

Sustainable features
• The street grid is ideally positioned for solar orientation of homes.
• The developers have used on-site rock (South Main is on a glacial moraine) for a cobblestone street.
• Developers required that homes be certified through Built Green Colorado, and though it is no longer certifying, the developers plan to keep building to that standard. The developers say most of the project’s homes exceed by several times Built Green’s requirement for certification.



Judges’ comments
This mixed-use community in Buena Vista, on a site that was formerly a trash dump, features good density and public spaces. It’s a walking community, adjacent to downtown, with such recreational amenities as kayaking and bouldering and includes a park. The choice to build at a high density in a rural setting is admirable.”


3rd place
Wellington Neighborhood

Wolff Lyon Architects
Sitting on 85 acres a little more than a mile away from downtown Breckenridge, this project addressed the challenges of reclaiming the ravaged landscape of a former mining site. The Wellington Neighborhood project consists of 282 units ranging from 576 square-foot “carriage units” to 2,000 square-foot single-family homes.
The compact neighborhood plan features a simple grid of connected streets. Homes face each other across auto-free, village “green-courts” that allow neighborly interaction and safe, easily supervised child’s play. While the median cost of a single-family home in Breckenridge is $800,000, the Wellington Neighborhood achieves affordability for the middle-income people who work in Summit County by designating 80 percent of the units in the neighborhood as permanently affordable.

Sustainable features
• Connectivity to downtown, adjacent neighbors and surrounding open space encourage sustainable living and transporation choices.
• Each home features energy-efficient plumbing fixtures, shallow frost foundation systems and efficient building envelopes.
• Through building orientation and window placement, natural ventilation and light are provided.
• The planning team made traditional neighborhood design possible by working with the community to devise new zoning flexibility to increase density, reduce setbacks from houses to the street, create narrower streets, and allow for smaller lots. This new zoning encourages mixed use in live-work buildings.

Judges’ comments
This neighborhood, within walking and biking distance of downtown Breckenridge, reclaimed a former mining site. Eighty percent of its planned 282 homes will be affordable work-force housing. The community features well planned small open spaces and is close to the river. Its homes, 200 of which have already been built, acknowledge the architectural precedents in Breckenridge.”

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