Thank you Statesman Journal for a fine editorial in today’s paper about Pringle Creek:

Explore the future of ‘green’ living in Salem:
New development will offer many energy-saving features

Out at Pringle Creek Community, the subdivision under construction on the old Fairview Training Center site, you can get a glimpse at what it would be like if every day were Earth Day.

Instead of felling most trees, the developers saved 80 percent of them — then milled the rest for boards and put the sawdust on the community garden.

Instead of carving the site into building lots, they clustered homes and saved 35 percent of the land as open space for trails, parks and a village center.

Instead of sending oil-laden rainwater from streets into streams, they created porous roads and sidewalks that allow water to filter back into the aquifer.

Instead of relying on conventional heating systems, they plan to use geothermal heat, extra insulation, passive solar design and other features. Some homeowners even will sell excess electricity to PGE.

The list of energy-saving gizmos and design touches goes on and on. But just as important is the community’s social design. With single-family homes, row houses, cottages and lofts, it is meant to appeal to a variety of ages and lifestyles (although still a fairly affluent slice). Community gardens and a wine building will beckon residents to get acquainted.

In short, it will be a place for people to not only save energy but recharge one another’s batteries.

This development is a new concept in Salem, but it no longer is on the fringe. Three-buck-per-gallon gas makes transit-friendly development look smarter all the time. Plenty of folks, whatever their political persuasion, would rather take a family vacation than pay sky-high utility bills. Oregonians who fish and hunt share many environmentalists’ concerns about loss of wildlife habitat.

Last month, the National Association of Home Builders singled out Pringle Creek Community for its Land Development of the Year award. That brought national attention to the project.

The group’s members expect that 40 percent to 50 percent of the homes built in 2010 will be “green,” according to a survey conducted last year. Local builders need to get with this trend or get left behind.

Buyers probably will pay a premium for the amenities at Pringle Creek Community. However, this development will serve as a living lab to bring ideas off the drawing board and into practice. That’s likely to increase demand and bring costs down.

Such homes likely will save their owners money during the long run in heating and cooling costs. They may be more healthful to live in if they use products that don’t emit toxic fumes.

Each year, Earth Day reminds us of the most important reason of all to conserve resources: Soil, trees, water and clean air are precious. We can’t treat them like something to be used up in our own lifetimes. We must pass them along to the next generation.

That’s an idea for mainstream Oregon. You can check it out, still under construction, this weekend.