PRAIRIE CROSSING, ILLINOIS
As urban sprawl has gripped the nation, misallocated valuable non renewable resources has taken precedent such as land sprawl, unsustainable water consumption, and utilizing non renewable building materials. Individuals and groups have successfully collaborated to construct environmentally friendly sustainable green communities. One prominent example is the critically acclaimed green community of prairie crossing, Illinois.
Originally planned as a 2,400 single family residence conventional housing development. Neighbors decided to take matters into their own hands and acquired the 677 acre property and implemented a conservation green community. Prairie crossing currently consists of 359 single family homes and 39 one and two bedroom condominiums. With 60% of the 677 acres now dedicated to open green space. Over ten (10) miles of hiking, biking and walking trails connect to over 3,000 acres of protected natural reserve. Trails wind through pastures, ponds and lakes, natural prairies and preserved wetlands.
All of the sustainable homes constructed at Prairie crossing are 50% more energy efficient than conventional housing. Homes are constructed using local Midwestern architecture features and are designed to high light the history of the local area, and blend into the surrounding community. Single family homes are constructed to the building America program. Condominiums are constructed to Energy star certification. The green condos with office work space achieved Leed ND certification status. The charter school is built to Leed gold certification. The TOD transit orientated development portion is constructed to Leed neighborhood development.
Two commuter light rail lines are adjacent to Prairie crossing. This connected community allows residents to be able to walk to commuter rail and have access to downtown Chicago or O’Hare international airport in less than one hour! Approximately 300 commuter trains a week stop at Praire Crossing’s two commuter stations. This unprecedented suburban transportation allows fewer residents to own and operate private automobiles.
Energy efficient green construction utilizes 2×6 wall studs instead of 2×4 studs. Twenty four inches on center instead on 16 inches on center. This allows for lower labor costs and more insulation. Thicker exterior walls allocate space for R-19 batts, providing sixty(60%) percent more insulation for a tighter thermal resistance envelope. This creates a double air barrier providing for increased energy efficiency. All interior and exterior cracks are sealed tight. Non toxic adhesives are used with recycled wood products. Additional energy efficient features include: double glazed argon filled low E windows. Ninety (90%) percent efficient gas furnaces. All HVAC ductwork is sealed and contained within the conditioned space of the home.
Prairie crossing has restored over 160 acres of native prairie land, 20 acres of wetlands, and over 16 acres of historic hedgerows. This natural native landscaping acts as green infrastructure to filter native storm water runoff throughout the entire green community. Storm water is naturally filtered through the prairie and wetlands allowing for a community beach for residents, local swimming, canoeing, sailing and kayaking! The high quality of the water has attracted the state of Illinois natural resource department to stock endangered minnows that help create biodiversity through out the water eco system!
Prairie crossing has been nationally recognized for its innovative planning and community design. This green community has been featured in National Geographic, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Better Homes and Gardens, Midwestern Living and the Wall Street Journal!
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