Happy Earth Day!

As I’ve mentioned, I’ll be shifting gears a bit this very special week and focusing on environmental efforts not just in and at home but around the home, in neighborhoods and greater communities.

Well, here’s some good timing: The folks at Natural Home magazine recently unveiled their picks for America’s Top 10 Best Green-Built Neighborhoods. I’m not exactly the biggest fan of planned communities — like many, I’m seriously allergic to bland homogeneity — but these 10 deep green neighborhoods all sound and look like truly awesome and inspiring places to call home.

Here’s a look at the top five picks. For the entire list, head on over to Natural Home. Do you happen to live in a green-built planned community? How has it impacted your life for the better? And green-built or not, are you doing anything within your neighborhood/community to celebrate Earth Day?

1. Mueller (Austin, Texas)

This 700-acre, LEED-NC Silver community located on a former brownfield site is home to more than 700 families, 25 percent of them qualifying as low-income. Mueller boasts 140 acres of park space for hikin' n' bikin' and is home to the Sunflower Electric Garden. 

2. Madison Street (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

Once a down-and-out district near downtown Chattanooga, Madison Street is now filled with artist's studio, cafes, and a slew of eye-catching, LEED-certified homes. 

3. Northwest Crossing (Bend, Ore.)

This thriving 486-acre mixed use community is filled with parks, locally owned businesses, and homes certified by Oregon's Earth Advantage Program. 

4. Pine Ridge (Ketchum, Idaho)

Affordability and sustainability are the main focuses in this gorgeous and green Idaho enclave. 

5. Prairie Crossing (Grayslake, Illinois)

This venerable "conservation community" has its own certified organic farm and 359 housing units powered by wind turbines, photovoltaics, and geothermal systems. 

Via [Jetson Green]

Images via Jetson Green except for Mueller: Ian Varley

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Won't you be my neighbor?
Just in time for Earth Day, Natural Home magazine picks its 10 favorite green-built communities across the U.S. (And we share the top 5 to whet your appetite.)