The Architecture was inspired and the site planning exemplary, but the biggest winner in the 2007 Builder's Choice Awards was Mother Earth. As many of this year's champions demonstrate, sustainability isn't a one-size-fits-all formula. There are lots of different ways to do right by the planet.
Take our Project of the Year, a mixed-use masterpiece that tucks residential, retail, and office space into a tidy, town-square pocket, thus encouraging foot traffic and helping to minimize automobile use. This is infill at its best; the transitional architecture blends Dutch and Caribbean influences and complements other nearby buildings.
On the other end of the spectrum, our Community of the Year treads lightly on the rural landscape with a prototype that makes ample use of salvaged and recycled materials, renewable energy sources, and natural topographical features. One of the greenest aspects of this project is the part of it that does nothing: half of the community's total acreage is preserved as open space.
As scores of innovative residences will attest on the pages that follow, sustainable building practices are fast entering the mainstream. Some industry players are flexing their eco-muscles with low-emitting adhesives and paints, Forest Stewardship Council–certified wood, water-conserving plumbing and landscaping, solar energy systems, and building components made from recycled post-consumer waste. Some are focusing primarily on jobsite waste reduction strategies that send less mess—especially the nonbiodegradable kind—to the landfill.
Still others are tackling the nation's petroleum addiction head-on, with mass-transit–oriented site plans, villages that condense live/work/shop/play to a walkable scale, or the sourcing of local materials to cut down on the trucking miles needed to deliver building components to the jobsite.
And then there are those who are simply rebelling against the ideology of a throw-away culture. They are acting on this by restoring new life to blighted neighborhoods, adapting existing structures for innovative reuse, and building homes whose durable quality and exquisite craftsmanship will ensure that they are loved and tended for generations, not bulldozed as obsolete teardown stock.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. This year's winners prove that these earth-protecting practices aren't so hard to do, and that beauty needn't be sacrificed on the altar of sustainability. Both can be celebrated on high.