Today the Washington Post tells the story of the revitalization of St. Charles in southern Maryland as a “green community”, with housing that features low-flow toilets, better insulation, and Energy Star certified appliances, among other things. Developers call this a test for the commercial viability of green homes in a generally conservative area.
While I’m all for more green features in new homes, this doesn’t sound like the most green way to revitalize a community. St. Charles is 22 miles from DC with no direct transit access to the city, so any new residents would be driving to jobs, schools, and shopping centers. A more green alternative would be to focus this new development where the infrastructure already exists, so that residents can live without cars.
Also, this is a revitalization effort that aims to start fresh with new housing in the area– 11,000 new homes on 4,000 undeveloped acres. Personally, I’d think that retrofitting existing homes with energy-efficient features, building more housing where housing already exists, and preserving that 4,000 acres of open space would be the way to go. But good for St. Charles in taking this first step towards greening the community.