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Environmentally Green... Economically Green: Tools for a Green Land Development Program

July 2001     

Purpose Of The Guidebook

Environmentally Green...Economically Green is intended for local-level practitioners who want to incorporate green land development practices into their work. Part One of the guidebook contains a brief overview of green land development and information on how to create a local green land development program. Part One is geared primarily toward Home Builder Associations (HBA) that are considering developing a “green” program of their own. However, other organizations interested in developing a local program could also find the information useful. Part Two of the guidebook lists green land development principles and offers brief explanations for each principle. Although these principles are essential parts of a successful green land development program, they can also be used for many other purposes.

Developers can use Part Two to identify ways in which their companies can become more resource-efficient and save money. Local government officials will find the principles beneficial as they review local regulations, such as zoning ordinances, street standards, and stormwater management ordinances that govern land development. While current regulations may prohibit developers from implementing some of the action items contained in Part Two, the principles can nevertheless provide a centerpiece around which private industry representatives and public sector officials can discuss how affected parties can work together to address cost-effective, environmentally sensitive land development.

What Is Green Land Development?

Each year, the United States witnesses the construction of over 1 million new homes. Many of these homes are built in subdivisions, on land that was previously undeveloped. The goal of this guidebook is to help individuals incorporate environmental considerations into all phases of the land development process.

Green land development does not conform to a narrow definition. For this document, we define it as making improvements over current practice that produce a more environmentally-friendly development within reasonable economic limitations. To the extent possible, we focus on residential design and development that addresses both the cost and the environmental issues associated with development. The guidebook emphasizes improvements that developers can make at their discretion or improvements that require some minor or moderate institutional change by local regulatory agencies. For the most part, improvements are limited to items within a site’s boundaries.

Current discussion about green development represent a push to foster land development practices that preserve open space and undeveloped land, limit stormwater runoff, reduce automobile traffic, decrease soil erosion, and increase aquifer recharge. These practices encourage more resource-efficient land use practices and residential environments while ensuring that development keeps pace with economic growth.

The principles outlined in this guidebook can help the reader enhance a project’s resource efficiency. The guidebook’s goal is to explain the advantages of each principle and to discuss considerations in implementing a given action item.

Prepared for:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Innovative Transportation Programs & Partnerships

Prepared by:
NAHB Research Center
Upper Marlboro, MD

113 pages

Purchase a hardcopy of this report from the NAHB Research Center's bookstore.