Builders and Developers Recognized in Building With Trees Award Program

Nebraska City, Neb. -- Conservation-minded builders and developers around the country have been named to receive 2004 Awards of Excellence in the Building With Trees recognition program. The program, sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of Home Builders and Firewise Communities, recognizes builders and developers who save trees during construction and land development.

Winners of the 2004 Building With Trees Awards of Excellence are:

Endicott Hill in Bethesda, Md., developed by Mitchell & Best Homebuilders LLC, of Rockville, Md.

Located among a forest inside the Capital Beltway, Endicott Hill is made up of eight homes distributed among six acres of trees. Homes were planned around pockets where few trees grew to keep the forest intact, which resulted in unusual placements chosen with the priority of saving trees in mind. Other tree-saving examples included installing a common driveway for six of the eight homes and landscaping the understory of the forest to prevent owners from expanding their yards. Homeowners said they were motivated to purchase because of the homes' setting among so many trees.

The Bancroft Development in Sandy Springs, Md., a project by Mitchell & Best Homebuilders LLC, of Rockville, Md.

Recognized as the Environmental Development of the Year for 2003 by the Maryland National Capital Building Industry, 70 percent of Bancroft's 100 acres were left open so trees can be enjoyed by residents. Coordination between the developer, subcontractors, local utilities and county government resulted in better planning of the Bancroft development. Excavators were required to notify the developer of trees scheduled for removal that weren't in the path of a home or road. A separate bike path meandering through the trees meant an extra 12 feet of pavement could be eliminated from plans by the side of the road.

Tall Oaks Townhomes, developed by Residential Development Group of Crystal Lake, Ill.

The construction of an eight-lot community, accessible by a private drive, saved all the oaks on this five-acre site that backs up to existing subdivisions. Various plans were considered and townhomes chosen because of the ability to cluster homes where there were few oaks. Reduced lot sizes and shorter front yards, limited sidewalks and the installation of private, instead of public, roads made possible the preservation of oaks. The developer worked with utility companies to locate easements in areas that would not affect trees. In the case of four units, easements were moved to run under patios.

Baldwin Park, developed by Baldwin Park Development Company, of Orlando, Fla.

The site of a former Naval Training Center, Baldwin Park is one of the U.S.'s largest redevelopment projects in a major city. The 1,100-acre site will include 3,600 residential units and 1 million square feet of commercial space. The developer partnered with the Audubon Society in planning parks and water edges throughout the site. An evaluation, lead by tree expert Dr. Arthur Costonis during the summer of 2000, cataloged over 600 trees, identified viable trees and provided specifications for protection and relocation during construction. The initial phases have resulted in 150 trees being pruned and transplanted, 20 preserved by the installation of barriers and more than 2,000 new plantings.

Basswood Lodge, developed by Basswood Lodge LLC, Omaha, Neb.

The Big Muddy Workshop, a landscape architecture firm, chose a property with large, stately trees when looking to build its new headquarters. The office was built in the footprint of the old building, which was beyond renovation, to have less impact on the roots of the mature trees that now shade and buffer winter winds. Removal of the front parking lot and a second driveway allowed the area to become greenspace, and new trees will shade the remaining parking. Other features of the property include air conditioner units on the office's north side that are shaded by a large tree, and a rain garden in the west yard that reduces run off, the need for extra watering and increases absorption rates.

North Burnham Park/Solider Field Redevelopment, a project of the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Park District.

Requiring the coordination of several agencies, the Solider Field Redevelopment removed the stadium between its original colonnades, and constructed a new stadium preserving the historic walls. The North Burnham Park renovation closed the gap between other lakefront parks and Soldier Field, and incorporated large, historic trees transplanted from other locales. The space for the park was created when 17 acres of parking was consolidated into two underground garages holding 4,000 cars, which reduced the heat island effect created by large tracts of unshaded pavement. Over 1,300 new trees were added to the park.

Highland Park Wastewater Treatment Facility, developed by the Hilltown Township Water & Sewer Authority of Hilltown Township, Penn.

Hilltown Township residents were concerned when the local Water and Sewage Authority announced plans to build a wastewater treatment facility in the community on five acres that were home to wetlands, 2 acres of meadow, and an overgrown stand of white pine trees. Community input during the planning phase resulted in the housing of mechanical systems in structures designed to look like farm buildings. The plant was located in the stand of pine trees, leaving a buffer of pines that blended the facility into the surroundings. Limited disturbance of sensitive areas preserved the existing beauty while allowing a facility that would address future water and sewage needs for Hilltown.

A jury of development industry and urban forestry professionals selected the award winners. Criteria considered includes: creativity and attention to protecting trees during planning, design and construction; planting and providing for long-term tree care; demonstrating a commitment to tree protection by having a certified tree-care professional on the development team; taking inventory of existing trees and using information to help preserve trees; and adherence to tree protection goals throughout the construction process.

The Awards of Excellence will be presented to developers later this year at the Arbor Day Foundation's Building for Greener Communities National Conference, to be held Oct. 4 through 6, 2004. The conference highlights the awards presentation and provides a national forum to discuss issues of tree protection during land development and construction.

Additional information on the conference is available by calling the Foundation at (402) 474-5655 or by visiting the programs portion of the Web site.

To receive a free booklet on the Building With Trees recognition program, contact The National Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, tel. (402) 474-5655, or visit the Foundation's Web site at The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit education organization dedicated to tree planting and environmental stewardship.

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