Eco-Friendly Smart Growth Takes Root in Dallas

Savvy developers are capitalizing on growing demand in Dallas for eco-friendly urban alternatives.

Can a city known for its conspicuous consumption really be the next green frontier? Several prominent real estate pioneers and a pro-sustainability mayor think so.

Dallas remains a popular relocation destination for the simple fact that, here in Big D, living well costs less. But with suburban sprawl extending up to 40 miles from the urban core, many are left wondering how "living well" jibes with a long and costly commute and, let's face it, bad design. This shift in thinking is spurring demand for urban alternatives. Several trailblazers are ensuring that eco-friendly construction figures prominently in the new cityscape.

One of the developers breaking new ground in the green market is Enpact Group, a full-service real estate firm dedicated to designing, building and investing in eco-sensitive projects. Enpact Group was launched in early 2008 by managing partner Bryan Korba, along with a team with over 30 years of collective experience. "With fluctuating gasoline prices, falling real estate prices, high energy costs and a growing desire among Dallas/Fort Worth residents to live closer to work and entertainment venues, I felt this was the right time to aggressively launch our company. Our clients demand sophisticated design, energy efficiency, livable spaces and attractive pricing, and our properties meet these demands," said Korba.

Enpact Group operates according to what Korba terms a "comprehensive and intelligent sustainability philosophy." The firm pays close attention to aspects of green living such as a healthier indoor environment, creative design using recycled and locally sourced materials, and access to public transportation.

Enpact Group recently completed construction on a multi-family property featuring LEED-certified exterior wood, R-20 foam insulation in walls and ceiling, strategic use of natural light through window and skylight placement, roof material created from recycled plastics, rapidly renewable bamboo wood floors, ENERGY STAR GE Profile stainless steel appliances, soy-based low-VOC stain and sealants on interior cabinets, concrete floors and exterior wood, dual-flush toilets and a SEER 21 multi-speed HVAC system with fresh air intake.

The exterior features maintained trees on property, a permeable shared driving surface to minimize paved areas and native Texas landscaping to lower water consumption. The property is powered by a mixture of 100 percent renewable energy from Texas-based Green Mountain Energy Company.

Enpact Group's condominiums were built within the same price range as similar "non-sustainable" construction, which may come as a surprise to buyers who still think that being green comes at a cost. In fact, for the same money as regular new construction in the area, buyers can actually save money on energy while enjoying the benefit of living an "eco-chic" lifestyle. "We think this will appeal to a buyer who wants to add an extra element of style to urban living. Greener design has an aesthetic quality that extends beyond the usual," says Korba.

Construction on Enpact Group's next project is under way several blocks over in the Historic Munger district. During our tour, Bryan points to an old loft building. "Our partner Taylor Allday is renovating that building. A PR firm will occupy the top floor." The intersection is an artful juxtaposition of past and future, and not just in terms of the buildings. By drawing young professionals to live and work in an old neighborhood just minutes from downtown, Enpact Group is injecting a forgotten street with vigor while increasing the land value.