Although I’ve never really followed the HGTV Green Home Giveaway all that closely, I do know this much: the annual sweepstakes in which the winner literally takes home an eco-friendly abode, a car, and a boatload of cash, has been pretty damned consistent when it comes to locales.

Past HGTV Green Homes have all, save for the 2008 home near Hilton Head, S.C., been located in master-planned communities that, while not loudly and proudly eco-friendly, are designed in accordance to the principles of New Urbanism. In other words, the homes are located in pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use developments (2011’s home was located in Denver’s Stapleton community, 2010’s home in The Pinehills in Plymouth, Mass., and 2009’s home in Tradition in Port St. Lucie, Fla.) where you don’t have to drive 15 miles to grab a quick dinner, drop off your dry cleaning, or deposit your kids at daycare. To be clear, these communities could still be considered suburbia, but a small town-y, sprawl-busting type of suburbia where you can also work and play in addition to rest your head.

The location of the 2012 HGTV Green Home is rather special and also a bit on the surprising side. It’s not that it’s an inappropriate selection — it’s more than appropriate — it’s just rather, well, intense compared to past HGTV Green Home communities and I mean that in the best way possible. I’m talking about Serenbe, the grand dame of the South’s New Urbanist eco-villages, located about 30 miles southwest of Atlanta on 1,000 semi-rural acres in Fulton County.

So what exactly makes Serenbe, a working commune with an HOA folksy utopia with a head count of around 170 residents that The New York Times once described as a “Sonoma for the New South,” so different from past HGTV Green Home communities?

>Well, let’s see: While Stapleton has a Brookstone, a Cold Stone Creamery, and an Eddie Bauer, Serenbe has a LEED Silver certified bakery, an acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, and a smattering of craft-centric indie boutiques; while Tradition has assisted living facilities, Serenbe has a Montesorri school; and while The Pinehills has a golf course, Serenbe has a 25-acre organic farm and CSA program. And then there’s the annual May Day celebration, the artists’ residences, the deep commitment to environmental sustainability … you get the point.

Since its creation, Serenbe has received ample national attention due to its bucolic take on New Urbanism (particularly given that it’s located near the heart of the sprawl beast itself). Now, as the location of the 2012 HGTV Green Home, the woodsy community is about to get a whole lot more of it.

The Georgia farmhouse-inspired custom home itself is a handsome one that’s built to EarthCraft standards (all homes in Serenbe are EarthCraft certified) and aiming for LEED certification. At 2,300 square feet, the three-bedroom “modern Southern farmhouse” is pretty average in size although HGTV says that it “boasts modern amenities and eco-friendly features that allow homeowners to ‘live big’ in a compact space. I’m not sure when truly "compact spaces” started boasting mudrooms, craft rooms, and enclosed porch areas called “Georgia Rooms,” but I’m liking the central courtyard-centric layout regardless. I'm also drawn to the wagon shed-inspired one-car garage that's tucked away on a hillside behind the house and linked to the main home by a staircase.

The Kemp Hall Studio-designed, FrontPorch-built home’s green specs include a 1.35-kilowatt photovoltaic array, Andersen 400 Series windows and doors, a light- and radiant heat-reflecting crimp metal roof, Energy Star appliances, water-conserving Moen fixtures, Shaw recycled content flooring, high levels of insulation, LED lighting, sustainable landscaping, reclaimed/recycled/handmade furnishings and decorative accents galore, and toilets that, when local requirements allow, can be connected to Serenbe’s blackwater treatment system which currently provides water for the community’s irrigation needs.

Additionally, 75 percent of the construction waste generated by the building of the home was recycled, and any trees felled on the building site were milled for reuse in other construction projects. There’s plenty more on the nuts and bolts of the home’s construction and its green features over at HGTVRemodels.

Says Kathleen Kinch, general manager of HGTV, in a recent press release: “The 2012 HGTV Green Home highlights a new dimension of green living that we haven't showcased with our previous homes. We want our viewers to discover how they can live harmoniously with nature but still have a connection to contemporary architecture and the latest in eco-friendly products and practices.”

The home itself is located in the Grange hamlet of Serenbe, one of three distinct areas of the community. Selborne is Serenbe's bustling "center for the arts" and home to most of the existing shops, restaurants, and amenities along with a huge chunk of the current residents. The Grange is newer and agrarian themed due to its proximity to Serenbe Organic Farms and the community horse stables. The third hamlet, the wellness-themed Mado, is in the planning stages.

Lots and lots more info and imagery, including a virtual walkthrough and a blog, over at HGTV Green Home. And, of course, there’s the sweepstakes that opens for entries this Thursday (April 12) and runs through June 1 (click here for all the particulars of the giveaway). As mentioned, at the conclusion of the sweeps, one winner will be handed the keys to the fully-furnished home and be bestowed with $100,000 and a GMC Terrain SUV (just about the most un-Serenbe type of vehicle imaginable, but apparently it’s more efficient that its gas-guzzling brethren).

Let me know what you think of the 2012 HGTV Green Home. I like the looks of it, but I'm thinking that the location of the home is the true show stopper this year.

Anyone visited Serenbe on a day trip or checked out the real estate there? Is it as magical as it sounds?

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