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Green Building & Sustainable Development

San Diego Community a Model for Green Building

Del Sur, a new development of 2,500 homes, represents the next era of responsible community planning: an amenities-rich community built with environmental accountability.

Planned over nearly 20 years by Black Mountain Ranch LLC, Del Sur faced multiple obstacles and opposition, leading Fred Maas, BMR president, to forge innovative alliances with community and civic groups to pursue his vision for responsible, sustainable design. Del Sur is now heralded as an exemplary product of smart-growth planning.

The community meets or exceeds stringent local and state environmental requirements. Del Sur also has won important environmental awards, and the property's Ranch House -- open to all as an education and resource center -- is in line for Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), and recognition as one of the world's most environmentally progressive buildings.

Recycling and resource conservation are central to the Del Sur philosophy, but established programs were not readily available. Maas developed a landmark community-wide program to coordinate recycling efforts that has successfully diverted over 92 percent of construction waste since September 2005, and saved builder costs and truck trips. It is a new model for future communities.

BMR also mandated that at least 20 percent of the community's homes incorporate solar energy systems. Some neighborhoods exceed the minimum, installing photovoltaic technology in as many as 40 percent of homes or more. When completed, Del Sur will be one of the largest solar-powered communities in California. Homeowners annually will save more than $58,000 collectively, which also translates into saving 35,000 barrels of oil.

Significant water savings are achieved through mandatory tank-less water heaters and weather-based satellite irrigation systems in most homes. These water-saving systems can potentially save up to 40,000 gallons per home per year. The community also requires at least half of all landscaping be drought-resistant, and reclaimed water is used in community landscaping.

The Ranch House showcases ultra-progressive sustainable design technologies. Recycled and rapidly renewable materials include stones reused from the site; recycled beams from an old pier; reclaimed floorboards harvested from a barn; blue jeans cotton for insulation; cork flooring; countertops of compressed sunflower husks; and cabinets and ceilings made from wheatboard.

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