When you sell out of a phase one release in a single weekend, you know you’re on to something. For Pardee Homes, it was validation that its eco-conscious LivingSmart brand had hit its stride.
Multiple factors contributed to the immediate success of Manzanita Trail, a neighborhood in the San Diego master planned community of Pacific Highlands Ranch that will include 147 detached homes at build-out. Prospective buyers who showed up for the grand opening quickly fell for pretty models staged with Lyptus cabinets, bamboo flooring, low-VOC paints, and carpeting made out of recycled soda bottles.
But that feel-good setting was only the icing on a larger green agenda. Like all homes at Pacific Highlands Ranch, the residences of Manzanita Trail are built in accordance with Pardee’s LivingSmart program, a green building framework the builder introduced in 2001 and recently expanded to apply to every house it builds. Each LivingSmart home offers energy performance that exceeds California Title 24 standards (in some cases by as much as 23 percent), superior indoor air quality, and serious water savings.
Oh, and respect for the planet. “We try to make a home that reduces its footprint on the earth,” says Joyce Mason, Pardee vice president of sales and marketing.
No doubt this is a new face for production housing, and one that debunks the myth that green homes can’t be profitable. The cute stucco, stone, and shingled houses at Manzanita Trail—which have garnered numerous design prizes, including a 2009 Gold Nugget grand award—take sustainability up a notch not just in their energy- and water-conserving attributes (which surpass California Green Builder and California Friendly irriga-tion standards) but in their readiness for renewable energy production. All of the homes are oriented to ensure optimal positioning for roof-integrated solar panels and other green upgrades if buyers want them.
And then there’s the bigger picture. Surrounded by 1,300 acres of preserved land, the neighborhood is planted with native species that blend seamlessly into the desert. The effect is a community that feels like it’s part of the natural panorama.
“We took open space and connected it with other open space so that the ecosystem is expanded to be much broader,” says Mason.
Wide open though it may feel, Manzanita Trail is also pedestrian-friendly. A centrally located recreation center offers an Olympic-sized pool, an outdoor water play area for kids (with water-saving features), a fitness center, and party rooms. Future plans call for a village center within walking distance of all 147 homes.
Houses at Manzanita Trail are priced comparably to similar-sized single-family homes in the area. But unlike the competition, they offer a return on investment in the form of lower utility bills, a healthier environment, and healthier families.
Which helps to explain why the sales momentum hasn’t slacked off since day one, in spite of the still depressed housing market. Manzanita Trail has averaged 1.64 sales per week since its grand opening. Smart, indeed.
Location: San Diego
Project: Manzanita Trail
Total acreage: 1,300
Date opened for sale: March 29, 2009
Product: Single-family homes from 2,350 to 3,050 square feet
Price range: $600,000 to $800,000
Total units at build-out: 147
Sales to date: 54
Builder: Pardee Homes, Los Angeles
Architect: McLarand Vasquez Emsiek & Partners, Irvine, Calif.
Interior designer: Color Design Art, Culver City, Calif.
Green and Simple
It's easy for green marketing to become pedantic and mired in technical-speak—particularly where building science is concerned—but Pardee Homes has deftly avoided that trap with its LivingSmart branding strategy. To simplify the value proposition for consumers, green standards and upgrades are broken down into four easy-to-digest content areas.
- High-efficiency washing machines and dishwashers
- Drip irrigation systems
- Drought-tolerant landscaping
- WaterSense faucets and low-flow showerheads
- Dual-flush toilets
- Tankless water heaters
- Low-E windows
- Energy Star appliances
- Programmable thermostats
- Dimmer switches and room occupancy sensors
- Fluorescent lighting
- Radiant barrier roof sheathing
- Photovoltaic roof panels
- Low-formaldehyde attic insulation
- MERV-6 furnace filters
- Low-VOC paints and finishes
- Electronic air filters
- Walkable community with recreational amenities
- Land planning for habitat protection and restoration
- Engineered lumber
- Prefab roof trusses
- Composite wood doors
- Permeable driveway pavers