Briar Chapel Raises Their Bar for Sustainability

In 2008, Newland Communities embarked on a project that they projected would take them until 2021 to complete. Briar Chapel is a 1,600-acre planned community focused on sustainability. Located south of Chapel Hill, N.C. Briar Chapel currently has 640 sold and occupied homes with another 50 under contract. Townhomes, singlefamily, custom and villas homes are available, with prices starting in the $200 thousands.

Within the 1,600 – acre community, 900 acres of open space were accommodated to preserve its integrity. “Great care was taken to minimize land disturbance and to protect the existing character of the site, saving thousands of trees and preserving nearly all the property’s wetlands,” said Jami Pearson, Marketing and Event Coordinator of Newland Communities.

24 miles of hiking and biking trails, two community gardens, and 20 parks are just the beginning of its sustainability with the community. At first, each home required at least, a bronzelevel “green” certification from the Green Home Builder of the Triangle. The Green Home Builder of the Triangle has since been adopted by the NAHB and is now a nationally accepted program called the NAHB Green Certification. Briar Chapel is the first community in The Triangle (a region in the Piedmont of North Carolina) to mandate that builders must comply with the requirements of the NAHB Green Certification. Furthermore, all homes must undergo 3rd party testing and certification requirements throughout the building process.

“The community’s development plan arose from the principle of ‘honoring the land.’ Briar Chapel includes a variety of cultural and natural features of local significance that were preserved,” Pearson said.


With nine different homebuilders throughout the community, most ranked within s top 25 builder list, each builder took to sustainability differently. “While the breadth of offering for every home builder varies, green features can include spray foam insulation, energy efficient appliances, low-E windows, and programmable thermostats,” Pearson explained.

Approximately 30 percent of the homes within Briar Chapel face south to increase solar capabilities. More cost saving features include: Water-saving dual flush toilets and low-flow faucets, compact fluorescent light fixtures, and drought tolerant landscaping. The high performance, energyefficient homes save approximately 30 percent of the homebuyers’ annual bills. “From conserving the property’s land, wildlife and water to building homes with top-of-the-line green technology, sustainability serves as the cornerstone of Briar Chapel’s identity,” said Pearson.

In 2014, Briar Chapel saw the grand opening of a new phase, Briar Chapel South. Briar Chapel South, also called Great Meadow, will add 700 homes sites, 300 of them were available for the grand opening in September 2014.

Great Meadow incorporated a popular combination of home styles and sizes. Newland Communities refined their builder segmentation and expanded the offerings; floor plans have been refreshed, taking new trends into consideration.

Great Meadow added Lennar to the already impressive list of homebuilders Newland has compiled. Garman Homes, Homes by Dickerson, and Saussy Burbank were also used to create the 700 home sites.

“The new neighborhood of Great Meadow has always been apart of the overall master plan of the community, the beauty of the design is that it serves as a major connection point, bridging the earlier sections of Briar Chapel to the North and creating multiple access points to the schools and southern sections of the community,” said Shannon McSwiney, Marketing Director, MIRM.

The major element that connects the North and South Briar Chapel is the Great Meadow Park. Approximately five acres, the park runs throughout the home sites of Great Meadow. Great Meadow Park creates a “break” within the concentration of homes. The park is also located on land that has elevation dimensions adding an element of interest to the surrounding homes and the park.


The park will be the second concentrated amenity location as well. There will be three “highly activated” amenity areas. With synergy and walkability on the forefront most residents will now be within a mile from a major amenity space (pool/club, great meadow park, or the sport court complex) said McSwiney

Briar Chapel is one of the top selling communities on the east coast for Newland Communities and based on annual start, ranks number five overall for Newland Communities (28 communities span across the U.S.). The success of this community can be credited to the land, with a shortage of quality land in The Triangle (12 counties). The quality of land that Newland Communities has available through Briar Chapel creates a successful platform for builders to deliver quality homes that meet the demand of the marketplace.

One way Newland Communities creates quality assurance for the homebuilders and homebuyers is through extensive research both locally and nationally. “Our research team works with a variety of key industry sources to stay current on customer and building trends,” explained McSwiney. The local teams have access to credible sources used for research helping to shape new development phases and amenity offerings. “By listening to our costumers, working with sister communities across the country on [the] best practices and staying fluid in our programs and being willing to change course mid-stream- all of these things combined have paved the way for successful community development,” said McSwiney.

Newland Communities has found impeccable land, Big Builders, and a market place with high demand. Newland Communties and Briar Chapel’s partnership with North American Sekisui, LLC (NASH) has also been a large part for their success, with over 30 communities nationwide. Encompassing these ideas, Briar Chapel became the sustainable community powerhouse it is today and no doubt will continue through until 2020.

Lacy Allen is the editor at Builder and Developer magazine. She may be contacted at

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