The Lakes of Orange could have been a typical suburban new-home community. Instead, its developer is doing everything it takes to attain four-star NGBS Green certification. Situated 14 miles from downtown Cleveland in Orange Village, The Lakes of Orange might have been any developer’s stock-in-trade — a 95-acre development of 150 single-family homes built by four builders on one-quarter to three-quarter-acre lots.
Developer Randy Kertesz has done more than a few of those, and this time, well, he just wanted to do things differently. So he’s using low-impact development techniques, adding a nature preserve, and building green homes. And as a result, The Lakes of Orange is in the process of becoming NGBS Green Certified at the Four-Star level, the highest certification level bestowed by Home Innovation Research Labs, making it the first green certified community in Ohio.
In 2009, Kertesz learned about the land development provisions of the National Green Building Standard (NGBS), which had recently been approved by ANSI and made available nationwide, and began designing a community that could seek NGBS Green Certification.
Some of the green features that have put the community on a trajectory to earn the NGBS’s highest level of certification include:
- Erosion Control & Stormwater Management: The development company controlled erosion by limiting clearing and grading and aligning roadways with natural topography. The community’s natural design features will support long-term stormwater management. Existing ponds, the riparian stream, and wetlands were restored and preserved. Community walking trails were surfaced with permeable materials.
- Repurposing of Existing Structures/Materials: Materials from the three existing structures on the site were recycled into the new development. Brick and blocks were crushed and used for temporary roadways during construction. Old paving bricks were excavated from a local road for use in walkways.
- Carefully Planned Landscaping: Landscaping will feature low-maintenance native plants, trees, and shrubbery once construction is completed.
To get started with the certification process, Kertesz first connected with a local verifier to gain understanding of the requirements and practices that best aligned with the concept for the community. He hired Craig Cawrse of Cawrse & Associates, a land planner in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, who had prior experience with green community development, and they collaborated on the plan. When they scored the project to the NGBS, the community achieved four stars with room to spare, aligning perfectly with Kertesz’s philosophy: “If you want to do something, you might as well do it right,” he says.
In addition to the green community features, the approximately 150 homes in The Lakes of Orange are subject to strict architectural guidelines and must be third-party certified to the NGBS or another national program. Homes built by Kertes Enterprises feature building products with recycled content, energy recovery ventilator for superior indoor quality, LED lighting with occupancy sensors, high-quality insulation, zoned heating and cooling, water efficient appliances and fixtures, and optional solar panels.
Kertes Enterprises has been doing pre-marketing of the community over the last year with very favorable feedback and interest from local residents. Kertesz says while many prospective homebuyers he encounters are familiar with the elements that make a home green, most are particularly curious about and interested in the elements that make the community itself green.
Green home features are key attributes sought by many younger home buyers in the region, Kertesz said – they’re seeking the potential health advantages, reduced maintenance, and long-term environmental benefits provided by green certified homes.