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Del Sur heralded for green building commitments

Governor's environmental award latest accolade

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The new home master-planned community of Del Sur, located north of SR-56 in the city of San Diego, continues to be recognized as a community that conserves natural resources while providing sustainable, smart-growth design and living practices.

Late last month, Del Sur was honored with California's highest and most prestigious environmental award -- the Governor's Environmental & Economic Leadership Award (GEELA). During ceremonies in Sacramento, the award was presented to Fred Maas, president and CEO of Black Mountain Ranch LLC and Duane Danielsen, senior vice president.

Del Sur was recognized in the category of comprehensive land use planning, which, according to judging criteria, honors a project that demonstrates "social equity and adequate housing; cost-effective infrastructure and transportation; water and energy efficiencies; and open space conservation to protect forests, agriculture, watershed and other ecosystem values."

Del Sur's information center, Ranch House, received California's first Platinum LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

"We applaud Black Mountain Ranch LLC for demonstrating an exemplary dedication to our families and community to protect our natural resources and environment for years to come," said Linda Adams, California Secretary for Environmental Protection.

Earlier this year, the community's Ranch House -- the information center for Del Sur that is open to the public as an environmental resource -- received California's first Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification for a private-enterprise, new construction building from the U.S. Green Building Council, the recognized standard worldwide for sustainable, high-performance, low-energy-use buildings.

Since construction began on Del Sur in 2005, the community and the Ranch House have been honored with numerous awards that salute the commitment of Black Mountain Ranch in leading the way for the next generation of master-planned community development. Honors include the 2007 Sustainable Communities Champion (presented by SDG&E); 2007 and 2006 Recycler of the Year (the city of San Diego); California's 2007 WRAP award (Waste Reduction Awards Program); 2006 MAME Award for Sustainable Community of the Year (Building Industry Association of Southern California); 2006 Smart Growth Project (Urban Land Institute, San Diego chapter); and 2006 Earth Award from San Diego EARTHWorks (presented by local Earth Day founder Carolyn Chase).

Designed over nearly 20 years in consultation with a variety of environmental and civic groups, the 1,800-acre community of Del Sur is planned to eventually include 2,500 market-rate homes, 469 low-income homes, business and commercial space, a transit center, a fire station, two schools and more than 2,000 acres of dedicated open space shared with sister community Santaluz. Many of the green-building strategies embraced by Del Sur significantly exceed state and municipal requirements. These include energy- and water-saving technologies, construction recycling, homeowner education efforts and more.

"Del Sur proves that planning for the needs of our present and future residents can successfully be accomplished in tandem with forward-thinking, resource-conserving practices that make economic sense," said Maas. "It's our hope that the next generation of community builders look to Del Sur as a model for development."

From the project's inception in the late 1980s, the developer set aggressive environmental mandates and innovative communitywide programs, including an ongoing construction recycling program that successfully diverted more than 92 percent of waste from landfills in 2006 and established a new model for builders and developers across the region.

Del Sur is contributing more than $20 million toward infrastructure improvements along the I-15 and SR-56 freeway corridors. Additional investments include a 25-million gallon water storage reservoir shared with sister community Santaluz, plus reclaimed water system improvements for common area irrigation. Black Mountain Ranch also is one of the largest private contributors to the county's Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), and more than 60 percent of Black Mountain Ranch has been set aside as permanent open space, including an 18-mile network of hiking and recreation trails.

Builders are required to follow a core set of green elements for homes, and communitywide sustainable design, construction and living practices have been implemented to ensure that Del Sur is eco-conscious not just today, but well into the future. Nearly every home in the community incorporates significant energy- and water-saving appliances and practices that reduce the community's demand on local natural resources.

A minimum of 20 percent of homes must include photovoltaic (solar) systems, and the option to install solar energy systems must be available to nearly all homes; some builders are installing solar in 40 percent of homes. Tankless water heaters and weather-based irrigation systems are standard in almost every home.

Drought-tolerant landscaping is also used throughout the community, and reclaimed water is used for irrigation of common areas. Close to 50 acres of wetlands have been created or restored so far at Del Sur, including a 400-foot-wide wetlands corridor and habitat for local animal species along Lusardi Creek, which also helps mitigate construction runoff and will positively impact local water quality in the coming decades.

In addition to the award-winning homes by some of the region's top builders, Del Sur provides a distinct lifestyle and abundance of amenities. Neighborhoods offer a wide variety of residential styles that borrow their grace from San Diego's architectural heritage. Tree-lined streets, a town center, expansive parks with swimming pools and 18 miles of trails shared with sister community Santaluz, all surrounded by acres of natural open space, are planned to create a rich living experience for beginning, growing and mature families.

Del Sur is open for model home and community tours daily from 10am to 5pm. Take SR-56 to Camino Del Sur, turn north for approximately four miles, and follow the signs to the Ranch House. To learn more about Del Sur, call (858) 481-4200 or visit www.DelSurLiving.com.

Farrell is an associate account executive with Scribe Communications.

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