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Today, the governor awarded the state’s highest environmental honor to Del Sur, a North County new home community.

The community garnered the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in the category of “Comprehensive Land Use Planning.”

From a press release on the award:

Designed over nearly 20 years in consultation with a variety of environmental and civic groups, the 1,800-acre community of Del Sur is planned to eventually include 2,500 market-rate homes, 469 low-income homes, business and commercial space, a transit center, fire station, two schools and more than 2,000 acres of dedicated open space shared with sister community Santaluz. The community’s Platinum LEED-certified Ranch House is open as a public resource for environmental stewardship and sustainable building practices. Del Sur opened in June 2006 and is approximately 20 percent complete.

In the press release, the master developer claimed several environmental considerations, including contributions to the county’s Multiple Species Conservation Program, open space preservation, a construction waste recycling program, solar energy options and drought-tolerant landscaping.

In July, I wrote this about the development’s ranch house, which was the county’s first LEED platinum-status structure. LEED is the industry measure of environmental friendliness for design and energy efficiency and is bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

I was curious then about the cost of securing such accolades. I bugged Bill Dumka, senior vice president for Black Mountain Ranch LLC, into telling me how much the ranch house cost. He wouldn’t release the whole cost, but he estimated $1.5 to $2 million for the hard construction costs, including bringing in timber from a 125-year-old barn in Pennsylvania and wood from a Portland pier.

More on Dumka’s estimate from July:

He said it works out to about $500 to $700 per square foot, the cost of a “very expensive custom house,” he said “and that’s basically what it is.”

But keep in mind, he said, that the expense wasn’t just to achieve the LEED platinum status. The novelty items, though recycled, are more for show than for conservation. The estimated additional costs to implementing LEED standards into individual homes is about 2 to 5 percent, he said — a cost that’s usually more manageable if you implement it when you’re building a house, rather than retrofitting an existing house.

KELLY BENNETT

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