Diamond City Developers get Green Light to Build America’s First LEED-Certified Town
Diamond City, a nearly forgotten Montana ghost town will be rebuilt 11 mi north of Helena, Mont. The planned equine development has received an influx of global financial interest with its announcement to develop 15,000 acres into America’s first LEED-certified community. Once complete, the town will be the most sustainable carbon-neutral community on a large scale in the U.S.
Robert Rule, chief executive officer of Premier II Development Group LLC of Helena, Mont. says sustainable technologies have advanced so rapidly over the past few years that a project of this scale is realistic.
“Diamond City will set the example on how to build attractive, well-planned communities with minimal impact on the environment while creating thousands of construction jobs. Over the next 7-10 years, 5,500 permanent jobs will be created along with thousands of part-time and seasonal jobs.
Rule estimates the Diamond City development will exceed $120 billion in costs to implement the master plan over 15 years. The development will consist of approximately 15,000 acres with approximately 7,850 develop acres leaving a balance of more than 7,000 acres of for farming and wildlife.
Total build-out of the first two districts, Diamond Hills and Diamond Towne Center, will include 2,160-acres of community and commercial districts with more than 1,700 single and multifamily residences, 650,000 sq ft of retail space and more than 400,000 sq ft of manufacturing facilities that meet or exceed standards set by LEED platinum certifications. All products manufactured in Diamond City’s commercial district will meet or exceed the same green standards.
The Development of Diamond Hills golf course will begin in the fall of 2010 and Diamond Hills and Diamond Towne Center will commence in the spring of 2011. District III, Diamond Springs, will include another golf course, a 5-star hotel and high-end homes. District IV, Diamond Meadows, located on the west side of the Robert E Lee Mountains and into the Silver City basin, will be affordable housing.
Private investors and a Chicago-based investment firm will fund the project.
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system providing third-party verification that a building or community is designed and built using strategies that aim at providing minimal environmental impact through energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources.
Renewable Energy According to Greg Oaklief of Oaklief Creative of Golden Colo., Diamond City developers will create a carbon-neutral community. “This development will rely on renewable energy resources that will return extra electricity back to the region’s grid, as well as providing self-contained waste management systems. Energy for the community will be generated onsite, including solar, solar cell, energy cell, wind, hydro electricity, geo-thermal and water wheels that reduce or emit no carbon into the atmosphere,” Oaklief says.
Additional energy will be created through plants that burn trash and the bio bricks from the membrane bioreactor (MBR) sewer treatment plant. The goal is to create up to three times the amount of electricity needed for use in Diamond City. The balance will be sold to the local power company as green energy.
Rule says the town’s waste treatment operations will collect sewage in a MBR plant. “The gray water will be fully treated through a reverse osmosis process, then it will be used for geothermal heating and cooling of every home. The recycled water will fill creeks and lakes designed into the landscaping. The creeks will provide some hydro electricity via water wheels and irrigation of golf courses and parks. Hydroelectric dams will be built to create the ambience of lakes and waterfalls and will become a major electricity source.
To complete the cycle, solid remnants from the MBR plant will be burned in boilers to heat the individual equestrian arenas and barns.
“We want to demonstrate that a community can become completely independent relying on its own natural resources,” Rule says. “We will use regional water resources for multiple purposes while keeping the air clean and replenishing the neighboring aquifer. We’re confident that Diamond City can and will become the most technologically advanced community in the U.S.”
The development will also focus on equestrian activities. As part of its commitment to drawing energy from renewable resources and solidifying its carbon-neutral status, methane gas from processed horse manure and stable waste will be captured to generate power that can be stored and distributed through energy cells.
Land Improvements and Preservation History was not kind to Diamond City. After the Civil War, in the 1860s gold was discovered in what came to be known as Confederate Gulch, east of Helena, and the region went through the typical boom and bust of other western gold rush towns. After the bust, the land was left to decay.
The original Diamond City was up Confederate Gulch 20 miles from where the new planned development will be built.
During WW II, the remote area where the reconstructed Diamond City is planned was used to train American soldiers heading into battle. Shortly after the war’s end the land, was left in an environmentally damaged brown field state. The area is currently being reclaimed by the U.S Department of Defense with the intention of cleaning the land and allowing for the nation’s first carbon neutral town while preserving more than 15,000 acres of nearby forest and habitat for native elk and other species.
Lifestyle & Recreation Diamond City will focus on the recreational interests of residents and visitors on a global scale. Populous, the largest sporting venue architectural firm in the world, will design North America’s most advanced equestrian center to date. The facilities will feature an equine veterinary rehabilitation facility operated by world-renowned veterinarian Ted Vlahos D.V.M., M.S., of the Sheridan Animal Medical Center in Sheridan, Wyo. A 7,000 to 10,000--seat regional multipurpose sports center will include multiple equestrian venues, as well as basketball, soccer, arena football, hockey and figure skating facilities.
Other multipurpose facilities will be designed for cross uses as a major exhibit hall, classrooms and training and built capable of handling conventions for up to 3,400 people. There will be other indoor and outdoor arenas created for world-class polo, grand prix jumping, dressage, rodeos, farrier schools, training centers and education centers. The equine medical center will have a testing and research lab for all education levels including accredited courses for colleges and universities across the nation.
“Montana’s history is steeped in horse culture,” Rule said. “The equestrian services and venues of Diamond City are designed to further position the region as a center for national and worldwide competition and world class entertainment.”
Diamond City will be equally attractive to golfers and other residents who ride horses, hike, bike, fish and hunt with easy access to trails that reach hundreds of thousands of acres of private lands, national forests, wildernesses and state lands right out their back doors.