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The Breakdown:

Everyone knows about LEED-certified buildings. Now there are LEED-certified neighborhoods, and guess what: Santa Cruz has one.

By Austin Sardella

The LEED certification system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is expanding from single buildings to neighborhoods, and Santa Cruz is in the vanguard. Twenty acres on the western end of Delaware Avenue, dubbed the Delaware Addition, have met approval to become a LEED Neighborhood Development--one of the first 25 in the nation. The Delaware Addition will provide a location for 500 jobs and homes for 350 people.

LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council requires that new buildings be energy efficient; neighborhood certification does too. "Sustainability has a lot to do with getting people out of cars," says Delaware Addition architect and LEED professional Mark Primack, who helped define certain criteria for the fledgling program. "Location is very important. Proximity to education, work, food and recreation are all big factors."

Primack views the addition as an important step for the future economy of Santa Cruz. "Wrigley, Lipton, Texas Instruments--they all came and went. This gives local businesses a chance to grow into larger spaces and shrink as necessary."

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