“You try new things, and it doesn't always work out, but it seems like every time we do a research home we find one or two things we can integrate into our homes as a standard feature,” McKown said.
He pointed to an American Lung Association Health House his company built in the late 1990s, in Ideal Homes tried out a fresh-air ventilation system. “We've been putting fresh-air ventilation systems in our homes as a standard feature ever since,” he said.
Ideal's homes in its Buffalo Grove at Village Verde neighborhood are wired for solar power, which McKown compared to plug-and-play gaming consoles.
“You can add on components,” he said. “So you can start off with a basic solar system for say, $4,000 or $5,000, and then as you get comfortable and used to working with it or you want more, you can add more to it.”
Federal tax credits just sweeten the pot, he added.
Finished homes give substance to an idea that has been taking shape since 2006, when the partners came together to develop the land for the Commissioners of the Land Office, better known as the school land trust, which administers school lands around the state. One of the state's stipulations was that the land be developed around green concepts.
The partners studied other communities, sorting through concepts to find what would best suit the land.
“What may work in downtown Chicago may not work in a suburb of Oklahoma City,” Nevard pointed out.
The evolving nature of building near Piedmont may help Village Verde in the long run. Growth has been slow but steady in the years since the nearby Surrey Hills neighborhood kicked it all off in 1964, and larger-scale building has begun to find a foothold.
But the location and the schools — the area is split between Piedmont and Yukon with Village Verde within Piedmont's district — are proving to be a draw.
Once families begin moving into Village Verde, the wheels can begin turning other the community's other assets, Nevard said. It's a matter of one step at a time.
“It's certainly a new market, relatively,” he said, “but we're plugging away out there.”