Cherokee sees green

The North Carolina-based firm is building the first “greenhome” in a suburban area—and one of its directors will be its first resident.

Cherokee Investment Partners, one of the most active developers of environmentally impaired properties, has begun construction of the world's first suburban greenhome, a house that meets high environmental standards.

Cherokee says although this is certainly one of their smaller projects, this first home will prove that environmentally friendly homebuilding can fit into mainstream society. The home will feature a number of ground-breaking environmental features but at the same time will still look like a normal suburban home.

The home, which is being constructed in Raleigh, North Carolina, will have a number of environmentally sound features, including the ability to recycle or reuse 90 percent of organic waste, retain nearly all storm water runoff, consume 50 percent less water and fossil fuel than a normal house and create wildlife habitats.

The home will be only one of three in the country to meet the National Association of Home Builders' Model Green Home Building Guidelines, and the only one in a suburban area. Once the home is completed, Cherokee will monitor data from the house to determine the sustainability of the project.

After an initial show-and-tell period, Cherokee senior director Jonathan Philips and his family will actually move in to the home. “I didn't know anything about green building before we engaged in this journey,” said Philips. “But living in the home carries a great burden to share the educational attributes of the home with other people. We're excited to be a part of history.”

The greenhome experiment will continue Cherokee's environmentfocused investment strategy. Since 1993 Cherokee, led by chief executive officer Tom Darden, has focused on acquiring and redeveloping brownfield spaces, properties known or suspected to have environmental damage. Cherokee acquires these properties, cleans them up and redevelops them. The firm closed its third institutional fund in 2002 on $620 million.

The firm has acquired over 330 sites across North America and Western Europe, including the former Gates Rubber Factory in Denver, Colorado, a 1.2 million square foot mixed-use redevelopment that the firm purchased in 2001 and Cherokee Meadowlands, a 785-acre site that is comprised of six landfills directly across the Hudson River from New York City.