A neo-traditional community in Northwest Indiana is the first to earn the land development certification under the National Green Building Standard.

The 60-acre parcel was carved from unused farm fields and old commercial sites in Burns Harbor, a once-dying steel town one hour from Chicago by train. The community’s documented focus on environmental stewardship earned it the certification, according to the NAHB.

Approved by ANSI in January, the ICC-700-2008 National Green Building Standard sets benchmarks and a verification protocol for single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums, as well as remodeling projects and lot and site development.

In laying out the Village in Burns Harbor, developer T. Clifford Fleming protected environmentally sensitive areas and preserved existing vegetation, natural water, and drainage features while adding more plants native to the Upper Midwest. In addition, the high-density residential areas are connected by sidewalks to the town center, and two South Side railroad line stations are within five miles of the development.

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 already have been completed, including two single-family homes built by Coolman Communities that were certified earlier this year. 

"The certification of the Village in Burns Harbor is another great step forward as NAHB continues to move green building practices into the mainstream," said NAHB Chairman Joe Robson, a builder and developer in Tulsa, Okla.

More than 1,000 new homes, renovation projects, and subdivisions are in the scoring process for the standard.  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 homeowner on the operation and maintenance.