Los Angeles-based Pardee Homes has another feather to stick in its green hat. On Feb. 21, the builder became the first home building company to be awarded the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. As California's highest environmental honor, the award recognizes leaders in conserving the state's resources and partnering with other entities for the benefit of the environment.

Joyce Mason, Pardee's vice president of marketing, says, “We're very proud that the judges did stick their neck out for a home builder [in giving us the award]; I'm sure there are a lot of companies doing great things.”

In particular, the builder was applauded for its sustainable practices, which demonstrate a voluntary commitment to environmental values in making business decisions. Besides building 100 percent of its homes to Energy Star standards, Pardee has developed the LivingSmart program, which is an option program that allows home buyers to select products and features that are environmentally conscious, energy- and water-efficient, and healthier.

BUILDING SMART: Pardee Homes' employees, from second on left, Amy Glad, Len Frank, and Joyce Mason accept California's highest environmental leadership award. The company also is ramping up its solar power initiative. Mason says roughly 15 neighborhoods offer solar options, with some elevations making solar power standard. Although she admits that it can be a tough sell because the photovoltaic cells are expensive, she says the program proves that it's not something that needs to be a custom option.

“You can do that [energy-efficient building] in a production setting,” she explains. “It just comes down to good building science.”

And as the public's environmental concerns grow, Pardee may be in a position to better capitalize on its responsible building programs. “I think home buyers do like to buy from a builder with a reputation that matches their [individual] values,” Mason says.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.