Eco-homes and green scenery in sustainable community; includes HGTV ‘Green Home’

May 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

As a day trip, Serenbe is bliss, a fresh grass-redolent, shockingly restful sojourn to the country only 30 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport./pp But what was once just a chance to feed a horse a sugar cube and shop the local farmers market, has recently transformed into a research odyssey. Spending the day at the sustainable community of Serenbe has morphed from a mere country idyll into an occasion for intensive green research./pp As idea houses go, the HGTV Green Home 2012 is a great place to start if you are building or renovating with sustainability in mind. The half-hour home tour, which runs through June 24, offers a bonanza of green materials and tips, from a kitchen counter made with seashells and Sweetwater bottles to outdoor furniture created from recycled plastic milk jugs. Designer Linda Woodrum transformed a 50-year-old cedar fence “headed for the landfill” she noted, into a coffee table and two oversize mirrors. Metal chicken feed bowls became striking wall art in the home’s Georgia room – a fresh take on the front porch./pp The tour is estimated to draw anywhere from 2,500 to 10,000 visitors, said tour project manager Stephanie Walsh, a former Athens resident who is also building a green home at Serenbe./pp The three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath HGTV Green Home is founded on obvious green features such as solar panels for generating electricity. But the home’s emphasis on connection to nature and ease of living are part of its green features, too. On the home’s second level, a courtyard patio with built-in grill is easily accessed from numerous rooms, expanding the sense of space. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows on three sides lend a feeling of transparency, openness and connection to that outdoor space. On the second floor, a clever hallway with a built-in craft station and table affords children a space to do homework or artwork./pp “Part of being green is about creating the best lifestyle for the way you really live,” Woodrum said. “The craft area is really about creating a dedicated space for the ‘messy’ parts of our lives.”/pp “Smaller, better-planned homes are more economical in many ways,” said Woodrum of a house that Walsh noted is “only 2,300 square feet, but ends up feeling like 4,000.”/pp But the HGTV Green Home is just one way to load your brain with the kind of cutting-edge sustainable ideas that dominate the daily life and thoughts of Serenbe founder and entrepreneur Steve Nygren, who created the holistic community./pp “When we were talking about environmentally responsible development a decade ago, everyone sort of laughed and thought we were some liberals. And that conversation has gone so far in a decade to where now it’s good business,” Nygren said. “We’re really mainstream now.”/pp Furthering that environmental agenda, this month, just down the road from the HGTV Green Home, Serenbe will debut the only existing Bosch Experience Center, an educational showroom created by a company known for automotive, industrial and building technology. The center will highlight sustainable features, including a professional-grade kitchen, power tools, security system and solar-powered hot water, all featuring Bosch technology and products. And next door is a Bosch Net Zero show home – meaning power is created by the home itself – open for tours. Featuring decor by Ballard Designs, the Net Zero Home is a living model of sustainability featuring geothermal heat pumps, roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels to produce electrical energy for the home and solar thermal systems./pp When tours end, the Net Zero Home will be on the market for $469,900./pp “We came to Serenbe and fell in love with it,” said Tom Black, in business development with Bosch. “This is the perfect community for us. It’s a sustainable community, environmentally friendly and this is what we’re trying to accomplish as well.”/pp /pp Part of the day-trip appeal of Serenbe is its self-contained community featuring nearly everything for a beautiful day in the country./pp HGTV Green Home 2012/pp 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Through June 24. $20. 10691 Serenbe Lane, Chattahoochee Hills. Bosch Net Zero Home/pp Friday-Aug. 31. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Free. 10660 Serenbe Lane./pp Serenbe May Day/pp Noon-4 p.m. Sunday. $5./pp This seventh annual May Day celebration will feature food trucks, live music and the debut of the Serenbe Stables Market featuring antiques and crafts every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer. The Inn at Serenbe/pp The inn offers overnight stays but also affords a variety of outdoor activities including trail rides to explore the natural countryside areas. A one-hour trail ride is $75 per person. Trails are open for rides seven days a week. To make a reservation, call the inn at 770-463-2610. Blue Eyed Daisy/pp One of the nation’s smallest LEED-certified silver buildings, this cozy bakeshop is a Serenbe resident favorite for its extensive menu of sandwiches, salads, baked goods and even local jams and honey for sale served in a low-key setting./pp 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays-Thursdays; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. Twig/pp This newly opened shop in the Selborne Hamlet retail district features locally made jewelry, candles and decorative objects. The Hil/pp Chef Hilary White focuses on local, seasonal ingredients, many of them sourced from the Serenbe Organic Farms. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays brunch; 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Fridays lunch; 3-5 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays patio and pizza; 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays dinner. The Serenbe Playhouse/pp This summer playhouse opens June 1 with a cutting-edge production of “Alice in Wonderland.” 11 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Through July 28. Celebrating its third year, the playhouse creates al fresco productions of classics, musicals and world premieres on the lush Serenbe grounds through August. The Farmhouse Restaurant/pp Every Saturday and Sunday, chef and Serenbe co-founder Marie Nygren features a fried chicken lunch, a local favorite. 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays lunch; 6-9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays dinner; 4-6 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays two-for-one cocktail hour. Serenbe Farmers and Artisan Market/pp From 9 a.m. to noon every Saturday through October, Serenbe plays host to local farmers and crafters at this popular outdoor market on the Market Green. www.serenbe Cochran Mill Nature Center/pp Open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, this Palmetto nature center minutes from Serenbe offers a collection of reptiles and birds of prey, nature trails and a fish and turtle pond. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/ppVisit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at

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