One small development company is trying to redefine what it means to be a developer in Douglas County.
"We're not just another developer," said Pete Coates, project manager of the 59-home, 140-condo Kit Carson Village in the Gardnerville Ranchos. "We have a responsibility to build sustainably in this community."
Coates, a residential green building advocate appointed by the U.S. Green Building Council, said what looks like a typical new neighborhood off Kimmerling Road is actually a pilot program in green building.
"LEED for Homes, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes, is a nationally recognized green building program," said Coates. "It's a certification program sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. Kit Carson Village is the only active LEED for Homes pilot program in the state of Nevada."
The neighborhood is a gated, master-planned community, restricted to those 55 and older.
Coates said Carson Valley has reached a critical point in its history, where residents' wishes to preserve the Valley's rural character are clashing with developers' wishes to build more subdivisions.
"Development doesn't just mean gobbling up the land; it means open space, green belts and sustainable neighborhoods," said Coates. "Rather than giving away a Hummer in the garage like some developers do, we offer a solar thermal system as a standard feature in our homes. That provides 100 percent of domestic hot water use, and takes up 15 to 20 percent of the overall heating costs of the house."
The company is building to match hte program's silver level certification, which means houses can achieve 50 percent reduction in energy costs compared to traditional homes. Besides solar thermal, houses include low-flow water apparatuses to increase water efficiency, Energy Star appliances, dual-pane windows, recyclable carpet and an exterior of insulated concrete forms, Lego-like blocks stacked without the use of mortar.
"There is zero or very low off-gassing of any of our material," Coates said.
Certification applies not only to the final product but the entire construction process. Coates said he had to use as many local suppliers as possible to cut down on the costs and negative effects of long transportation. They also had to recycle up to 75 percent of their waste on the job sites.
"These green sustainable options are more and more in the public consciousness everyday," said Coates. "People are picking up on it, and are looking for it when they come to a job site."
Marketing Administrator and Design Coordinator Annette Brooks said certification requires another party to review the project, ensuring that energy efficiency and environmental standards are being met.
"We are third party verified and audited," said Brooks. "When we first started, people weren't as interested in it, but now more people are environmentally friendly and aware."
She said the houses cost about 8 percent more than normal houses.
"But that difference is made up in energy savings," added Coates.
Coates said community members and government officials have been nothing but positive about the project.
"Development doesn't have to be this negative thing," he said. "It can be done right, in the best interest of the community."
Coates will speaking 6 to 8:30 p.m. today at Carson Valley Inn as part of the "Douglas Today '08: Forecast for Douglas County." Call 783-1782 for information on the event. Visit www.kitcarsonvillage.com for more information on the Kit Carson Village project.