From: Paul Schaefer, ENN
Published December 17, 2007 03:36 PM

California's Depot Walk Earns LEED Certification

ORANGE, Calif. - Olson Homes, a pioneer in sustainable building practices and a leader in California's move towards in-town, urban living since 1988, is the first attached, new-home community in California to earn LEED Certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and attain a Silver rating. The model homes at Depot Walk feature green construction materials, eco-smart interiors and solar efficiencies.

Additionally, Depot Walk has been recognized by the USGBC as a participant in the LEED for Homes pilot program. More than 80 builders, including 13 affordable housing developers, have registered residential projects in the LEED for Homes program.

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Depot Walk is Orange County's first all-solar multi-family community. With systems provided by SunPower Corporation, a Silicon-Valley based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, Olson estimates that these homes will get up to 50 percent of their electrical power from this non-polluting, clean energy source. Solar energy helps to offset electrical usage at the time of day when homes and businesses demand it most. It also allows utilities to operate fewer fossil-fuel consuming power plants.

Located on Maple Avenue at Pixley Street within Orange's Old Towne Historic District, Depot Walk offers the first new-housing in 25 years. Priced from the low $500,000s, the new neighborhood features 32 California Brownstones/townhomes, of which three are live-work units, and five are integrated affordable housing.

"LEED Certification is the 'gold standard' for the Green Building movement. We are proud to be a LEED for Homes Pilot builder," said Bill Holford, Olson's regional president of Southern California In-Town Communities. "It's essential that all of us do our part to embrace -- as much as possible -- sustainable building practices. Participation in this program has been transformative for our company with regard to how we will build homes in the future."

LEED for Homes is a voluntary initiative designed to promote sustainable home building practices. The LEED for Homes Rating System is targeting the top 25 percent of homes with best practice environmental design and construction. The LEED for Homes rating system is being developed to provide national consistency in defining the features of a green home and to enable builders anywhere in the country to obtain a "green" rating on their homes. The strength of the LEED for Homes program will be third-party verification that will include both on-site inspections and performance testing.

"We strongly feel that an alignment with a nationally-recognized label like USGBC's LEED rating system will offer the nation's leading builders a strong marketing platform with which to differentiate themselves further in the marketplace, as well as prepare their operations for the next generation of housing," said Kristin Shewfelt, LEED Homes Committee Vice Chairwoman.

LEED for Homes will also test the delivery system for the program. Eleven local and regional organizations, called LEED for Homes Pilot Providers, have formal responsibility for rating LEED Homes. Olson Homes is working with Davis Energy Group to ensure the LEED for Homes standards are met. A complete list of the LEED for Homes Pilot Providers can be found on the website at http://www.usgbc.org/leed/homes.

The USGBC is a nonprofit, consensus-based organization working to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. For information on LEED and the U.S. Green Building Council, visit http://www.usgbc.org/.

About Olson Homes

Headquartered in Seal Beach at 3020 Old Ranch Parkway, Olson Homes is California's largest metropolitan builder winning many awards, including being named America's Builder of the Year. Since 1988, Olson has transformed "in-town locations" into a variety of attainably-priced homes including live-work, transit-oriented developments, lofts, brownstones and homes with historic architecture. The company has constructed thousands of homes over its history meeting and servicing the needs of California's culturally-diverse homebuyers. Its reputation is unsurpassed in working with cities to create new "in-town neighborhoods" among mature communities. Additional information about Olson Homes is available on its website at http://www.olsonhomes.com/.

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