As the developer of Summerlin, which spans 22,500 acres, The Howard Hughes Corp. has long recognized its obligation as a steward of the land. In Summerlin, the company’s dedication to preserving the environment has been demonstrated in many ways over the years, most notably two land exchanges in which Hughes pulled Summerlin’s boundary eastward, adding 6,400 acres to the National Conservation Area and creating a permanent boundary that will forever protect Red Rock Canyon and preserve its pristine character.
According to Tom Warden, senior vice president, community and government relations, Summerlin, the decision to pull the community’s border back was made because The Howard Hughes Corp. knew it would be inappropriate to develop within sight of the scenic loop road.
“From its inception, Summerlin was developed with the environment in mind,” Warden said. “Beyond our landmark exchanges that continue to protect Red Rock Canyon, today, Summerlin was one of the valley’s earliest adopters of desert landscaping, helping to improve the public image of low water-use landscapes in the 1990s and encouraging other developers and builders to do the same. In fact, Summerlin was the valley’s first community to implement strict Water Smart conservation guidelines, and we continue to use and promote desert-friendly plant materials whenever and wherever possible.”
In addition, Summerlin is now harvesting many of the native desert plants in areas under development, and replanting them in new ‘blended’ or ‘re-vegged’ landscapes. So far, millions of dollars have been spent on these landscapes, saving significant amounts of irrigation water.
Even before Summerlin began to take shape, The Howard Hughes Corp. was integral in establishing a development fee to fund Desert Tortoise habitat that helped protect this once threatened species. Company leaders also served on a valleywide development coalition that drafted some of the nation’s toughest self-imposed rules on dust control to protect air quality. And Hughes continues to be proactive in the fight against illegal dumping by organizing and funding desert cleanups in undeveloped areas in and adjacent to Summerlin.
A number of design innovations, such as the preservation of natural drainage areas and arroyos that serve a dual use for parks and trails, as well as the incorporation of the natural landscape and topography, are strong examples of environmentally oriented design principles that have made Summerlin the model community it is today, Warden said. “Summerlin looks the way it does because of our commitment to preserve as much open space and natural vegetation as possible.”
According to Warden, the community’s environmental stewardship is evolving to include a more intense focus on new urbanism and smart growth, evident in a growing number of higher-density neighborhoods, particularly in the Downtown Summerlin area where as many as 4,000 residences are planned, including apartments, town homes, condominiums, lofts and brownstones. In 2016, Downtown Summerlin earned Silver certification status from the U.S. Green Building Council in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
Given Summerlin’s long history of environmental stewardship, the community is a fitting site of the annual GREENFest Earth Day Festival organized by Nevada Energy Star Partners Green Alliance. Held today on the Lawn at Downtown Summerlin, the event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free celebration coincides with Earth Day and features over 100 exhibitors, interactive displays, conservation exhibits, pet adoptions, Kidz Zone, beer garden and even a GREENFest Treasure Hunt with a variety of prizes.
GREENFest kicks off with the Drive Clean Energy Las Vegas procession beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Las Vegas Cyclery parking lot, 10575 Discovery Drive in Summerlin. Hybrid gasoline/electric vehicles, battery-powered electric vehicles, compressed natural gas vehicles, electric motorcycles, electric bikes, and e-scooters will proceed north on Town Center Drive to Downtown Summerlin.
“We are thrilled that the Southern Nevada community has embraced GREENFest as the Valley’s largest Earth Day festival and we are honored to celebrate our 10th anniversary this year,” said Tracy Skenandore, co-founder of GREENFest.
“The community is more interested today than ever before about living a sustainable lifestyle and supporting a healthy environment for future generations,” stated Annette Bubak, co-founder and past president of Green Alliance. “We are proud that GREENFest brings the community together with educational resources and unique services for a fun and interactive celebration in honor of EARTH Day.”
The master-planned community of Summerlin offers nearly 180 floor plans in 40 neighborhoods in nine distinct villages. Homes are available in a variety of styles – from single-family homes to town homes, priced from the $230,000s to more than $1 million. For more information, visit Summerlin.com.