A Bold Sustainable Beauty

Dedicated to building a sustainable community, leading U.S. developer Newland Communities and home builders Homes by Dickerson and Saussy Burbank collaborate to create an ecological lifestyle in North Carolina.

By Evan Lancaster

By focusing on a commitment to deliver a community based on aspects of protecting the natural environment and providing a leading ecological lifestyle, developer Newland Communities and builder Homes by Dickerson and Saussy Burbank strived to create an original, yet simplistic product by thinking in terms of sustainability and longevity.

Located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the community of Briar Chapel is a combination of multifamily and-single family townhomes — from a multitude of builders, working with Newland Communities and has become the first community in North Carolina to use the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) green certification program — the National Green Building program. Utilizing NAHB Green and the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Environmental Energy and Design (LEED) Silver Certification program, these builders are working toward making Briar Chapel one of the most sustainable master-planned communities in the United States.

Each residence at Briar Chapel ensures maximum energy-efficiency and minimum energy costs. Through a mixture of droughttolerant landscaping, storm water management techniques and the use of recycled materials, Briar Chapel has become the first community in the Triangle, to fully comply with NAHBGreen and LEED Certification.

According to Linwood Strickland, president and CEO of Homes by Dickerson, the builder took the opportunity to demonstrate a clear and conscientious effort to develop Briar Chapel with Newland Communities for several reasons. One of them being, Newland’s longstanding and well-respected status as one of the nation’s largest developers and to showcase Homes by Dickerson’s commitment to building stylish and sustainable homes. “Newland is a developer with a strong reputation, clear vision and track record for building successful master-planned communities,” Strickland said. He continued, “And the fact that Briar Chapel would be a green built community aligned well with our company initiatives of building high performance green homes.”

The sprawling hills of Briar Chapel are dedicated to preserving nature in its true state. In fact, Newland Communities has dedicated more than 900 acres to open space, including 24 hiking and biking trails. Not only does the incorporation of trails add to the scenic beauty of the tranquil North Carolina landscape, but it also helps promote the value of habitat preservation and encourages residents to live healthy, active lives. Located within miles of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Briar Chapel gives residents access to University of North Carolina and several shopping and recreation opportunities for residents of all ages.

Another aspect of Briar Chapel that executes a dedication to community interaction and ecological values is the LEED Silver Certified Briar Club. This acts as the community pulse, engaging residents with group activities, which allow residents to interact with each other. According to Joe Robinson, vice president, Saussy Burbank Homes, Raleigh division, one of the concepts behind Briar Chapel was to nourish relationships, as you would the natural environment. “Briar Chapel has many unique characteristics that make it a great fit for us. We believe that a home is much more than the place you sleep at night,” Robinson said. “It is the place where you live, work, play, socialize, and interact. Briar Chapel offers an extraordinary neighborhood with trails, community activities, pool parties, music in the park, open spaces to play, and a strong commitment to green.”

Due to the innovative approach to creating this remarkable community, Homes by Dickerson wanted to ensure an original building palette in order to provide residents with a traditional, but uniquely modern home. With floor plans ranging from 2,000 to 2,826 square feet, Homes by Dickerson offers, threeto four-bedroom, two- to three- and-one-half bathroom single-family homes with price points starting in the mid $200,000. It was important to the home builder to create a product that reflected the concept of Briar Chapel, but did not want to offer the standard, run-of-the-mill production home, but rather a contemporary plan the combined aspects of modern and classic home styles. Strickland explained there were some hurdles considering redeveloping new site plans to reintroduce into Briar Chapel, but through innovative marketing techniques and in-depth analysis, Homes by Dickerson worked with Newland Communities to find a solution. “Some of our initial challenges included developing a new portfolio of plans to fit the product lines and buyer profiles,” he said. “We conducted Chapel Hill realtor and buyer focus groups to gather feedback on interior/exterior designs and included features.”

While developing Briar Chapel, the team made a dedication to recognizing the different components of sustainability they sought to achieve within each home. By ensuring the building envelop of each home had a flawless design and each site incorporated droughttolerant and native vegetation, along with water conservation methods, Homes by Dickerson made sure these homes were both not sustainable, but carried peace-of-mind, too.

Strickland said that by incorporating advanced framing methods to maximize insulation value, Low-E Energy Star windows, which allows exterior light to flow inward naturally and highquality HVAC systems, would keep monthly utility bills down, while still providing residents with the comfortable lifestyle they want to lead inside Briar Chapel.

Robinson agreed with Strickland, by maintaining a focus on executing a design that would match both the values of sustainability and aesthetics — for years to come, Robinson explained that truly green values are not just products in a home, but a clear and concise idea of what needed to be delivered and why.

“Our approach to green is very simple. It starts with great design and effective and efficient use of space. Great design is not just behind the walls, Robinson said. “We believe that a home is more sustainable if thoughtfully designed with timeless appeal.”

Evan Lancaster is assistant editor of Builder and Developer. He may be contacted at elancaster@penpubinc.com.

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