HGTV Green Home 2012: The Serenbe Story

Serenbe, a sustainable community less than 30 minutes from Atlanta, serves as the location of HGTV Green Home 2012. Founder Steve Nygren shares the inspirational story of his family's life-changing decision to move the country.

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Serenbe's master plan is inspired by English hamlets and villages, with an emphasis on balanced growth, a mix of architectural styles, sustainability and land preservation. Three key neighborhoods within the community are divided by a commercial center. Selborne focuses on the arts, with antique shops, clothing boutiques, art galleries and a photography center situated within its confines. The crafts- and organic farming-centric Grange, the location of HGTV Green Home 2012, will boast a blacksmith's shop, glass blowing studio, weaving center, feed store, tack store, farm grocer and casual restaurant overlooking the community lake. Mado, a neighborhood dedicated to wellness, will include a community pool, an early learning center, a gym, assisted living and memory care facilities, senior housing, doctor's offices and the community's own charter school.

At Serenbe, a focus on community encourages residents to interact. The pedestrian grid makes walking far easier than driving; front porches on every home and mailboxes located at busy community centers further foster socialization. But quiet time certainly has its place. Steve considers the neighborhood's green space a "restart button" for any life stressor. "If you go out the front door, be ready to socialize," he says. "If you don't feel like socializing, walk down a wooded path."

The founders of Serenbe take living green seriously. Along with a 25-acre organic farm that provides produce for Serenbe's restaurants, Atlanta restaurants and the neighborhood CSA program, the community boasts a natural wastewater treatment facility and storm water management areas built along wooded trails. Smaller homes, smaller properties, the elimination of lawns and energy conservation are among the community's key principles. In Serenbe, green issues are linked arm and arm with artistic pursuits, as evidenced by The Serenbe Institute, a nonprofit resident-funded organization. The institute fosters visual and performing arts, as well as the community's ecological programs. "Well-being is more than an energy efficient house," says Steve. "It's about feeding the soul, the stomach and our minds." And Serenbe is determined to do just that.

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