With its authentic trestle bridge, shed-like structures, and sprawling views of preserved open space, this former cattle ranch 20 miles east of Bend, Ore., reads like any number of pastoral whistle stops in the region's agrarian landscape. Except it also happens to be the first resort community in Oregon and the fourth in the nation to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Each of the five buildings that compose its headquarters compound - a community barn, bed-and-breakfast, post office/general store, recreation center, and clubhouse - has been designed to LEED gold standards. The community barn received its official LEED Gold certification in 2007, making it the first new construction resort building in the country to earn gold status.

Upon build-out, this low-density, family-oriented destination spot on 1,800 acres of high desert will include roughly 750 custom or spec homes (on lots ranging from a quarter to a third of an acre) and 150 low-slung resort cabins clustered around shared “car barns,” all built to Oregon's Earth Advantage Home specifications. But for now, the initial focus has been on establishing the core amenities that will set the tone for the entire development.

For starters, the community recreation center is topped with a solar rooftop thermal system that supplements (essentially preheats) pool, faucet, and shower water in the locker areas, thus helping to offset the energy demands on traditional boilers. The ranch is plugged into the power grid, but has contracted to purchase renewable energy credits from wind and hydroelectric sources.

Local salvaged materials form the bones of centerpiece buildings such as the 8,000-square-foot Community Discovery Barn, which this year received the nation's first LEED gold rating for new resort construction. Disassembly of an old lumber mill 15 miles away produced about 300,000 board feet of reclaimed wood, including beams, columns, siding, wood slats, rafters, and purlins, which were meticulously cataloged and repurposed for use in the barn.

Weathered framing members bolted together with antique bridge washers now form composite trusses in the barn, while other found artifacts have been resurrected as ornamentation for fireplace mantels. “From a design standpoint, these materials provided an instant patina that contrasts nicely with contemporary features such as skylights and board form concrete,” says Rich Carr, principal and owner of Cottle Carr Yaw Architects (CCY). Lava rock, an abundant native material used for stonework, rounds out the natural palette.

Extensive sourcing of local resources cut back on trucking miles, thereby achieving a reduction in the transport costs to bring supplies to the jobsite. The buildings incorporate low-VOC adhesives, paints, carpeting, and composite wood products; 100 percent recycled, reinforced vinyl and cellulose-fiber roof shingles; waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets; and dedicated recycling centers. Efforts to minimize construction waste diverted as much as 75 percent of jobsite refuse from local landfills.

Perhaps the most iconic landmark in this stretch of ranch country is the trestle bridge, which once served as an irrigation flume and now forms both a literal and figurative gateway to the community. “It's a spectacular remnant of the site's previous ranching operations that speaks to the heritage of the place and was left largely intact,” Carr says. An apt metaphor, indeed, for a venture that bridges history with modernity in a sustainable way.

See all 2007 Builder's Choice Award Winners

Categories: Community of the Year; Green/Sustainable community (grand);

Entrant/Architect:CCY Architects, Basalt, Colo.;

Builder: Keeton King Construction, Sisters, Ore.;

Developer: Brasada Ranch Resort, Powell Butte, Ore.;

Interior designer: Ranch House Interiors, Boulder, Colo.

LAKE EFFECT The five anchor buildings at Brasada Ranch are heated and cooled by a ground-source lake loop system, resulting in energy efficiency that improves upon a traditional gas-fired heating system by up to 60 percent. “It's a lake loop version of geothermal, where instead of using the ground, we are using the bottom of a pond or lake, which has a fairly stable temperature,” explains architect Rich Carr. The body of water, in this case, is a pond on the golf course's 18th green that doubles as an irrigation and stormwater management feature.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Bend, OR.