Thursday, November 16, 2006

There goes the "green" neighborhood...

Tom Hoyt has earned a solid reputation in Colorado as a sustainable home developer. One of their largest projects is at Stapleton, the old Denver airport brownfield I wrote about in Record’s July 2006 technology section. Hoyt’s team at McStain Neighborhoods ( talked Thursday morning about how the company’s culture inspires innovation in their homes. Based on a University of Colorado, McStain homes sell for 4 to 11 percent more (and roughly $10/SF more) than their Colorado competitors. For Hoyt, sustainability is paying off.

Caroline Hoyt, a founder and the designer for McStain, talked about xeriscaping, incorporating natural landscape to minimize grading, and creating usable wetlands for stormwater management. But I thought her comment about site orientation was the most surprising. Since Hoyt has been developing homes in Colorado since 1968, she says they’ve found that conventional north-south/east-west street orientations don’t make sense in the state. With a house oriented to the south, too much snow builds up on the north and will stay all winter; instead, McStain shifts the street grid 45 degrees and solves that problem. “Look at your land planning very critically and don’t just assume what someone tells you is always right,” Hoyt advises.

These sorts of nuanced considerations are what separates a great designer and developer from the rest of the pack.

-Russell Fortmeyer

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