April 09, 2009 12:00 am  •  Lu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent

More than 100 people gathered Wednesday at Burns Harbor’s village square to honor the nation’s first development to earn certification under the National Green Building Standard.

The Village of Burns Harbor received “Three Star” certification from the National Association of Home Builders Research Center. The research center developed the green building standard and now certifies developments for the NAHB National Green Building program.

Green is a term denoting energy efficiency and environmental friendliness.

Bob Jones, president of the 230,000-member NAHB, presented the certification. The development, he said, “fosters a ‘we’ attitude rather than a ‘me’ attitude. It serves as a model for Northwest Indiana and the nation.”

The 60-acre residential development of housing for mixed income homeowners was the vision of T. Clifford Fleming, a Northwest Indiana native who said he wanted to create an urban neighborhood like that of his childhood in Gary’s Glen Park.

The village was carved from unused farm fields and old commercial development. In laying out the community, Fleming protected environmentally sensitive areas and preserved existing vegetation and the natural water and drainage features of the site. He also added more plants native to the upper Midwest and connected the residential areas by sidewalk to the town center.

“It took 21 variances to make this happen,” Fleming said, congratulating the town, NIPSCO, Indiana American Water, Verizon, Comcast and Rieth-Riley Construction Co. for work on the village’s infrastructure.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, told those gathered that Northwest Indiana residents sometimes “believe we are inferior. No one in the entire United States has done something like Clifford Fleming did here.”

Northwest Indiana Times