Forest City Enterprises, the famed creator of Stapleton in Colorado, is turning its sustainability efforts up. Last October the master developer broke ground on Mesa del Sol, a 12,900-acre community on Albuquerque, N.M.'s southeast mesa.

As with previous communities, Forest City is hoping to lure settlers with pedestrian-friendly streets, neotraditional architecture, and energy-efficient homes, plus one more thing: eco-friendly jobs. With 310 sunny days per year on average, this desert oasis is the ideal incubator for solar technology.

In keeping with the city of Albuquerque's growth strategy, Mesa del Sol is courting renewable energy companies not just to outfit its houses, but to serve as its first employers. The vision is to form a national hub for photovoltaic research, development, manufacturing, and prototyping. In November, Advent Solar, a developer of solar cells and modules, was the first player to sign on.

For home buyers wearied by skyrocketing real estate prices, Mesa del Sol promises another perk: New single-family homes average a mere $175,000 along this stretch of the Sun Belt, compared with some coastal markets where prices are fast approaching a million dollars. And with 8,000 homes slated for phase one development over the next 15 years, there will be plenty to choose from. Outlook: sunny.