Following are highlights of a few of the projects that are presented in the National Building Museum’s Green Community Exhibit. For the complete set see These projects are examples of communities that are taking positive steps toward making human settlements more sustainable.

Located 15 miles southeast of Santa Fe, Galisteo Basin Preserve is a fragile and ecologically significant area celebrated for its spectacular scenery. To protect this 12,800-acre habitat, Commonweal Conservancy has purchased the entire preserve with plans to integrate a 300-acre compact village into a site where 96 percent of the land is protected in perpetuity by conservation easements.

Greensburg’s past and future have been defined by the uncertain elements of wind and water. Once a water stop for stagecoaches and steam engine trains, home to the world’s largest hand-dug well, and located within a flood plain, the town was nearly leveled by a 2007 tornado that left less than 10 percent of the town’s buildings standing. Working with BNIM Architects, this community of 1,400 is taking the opportunity to redefine its very core, adopting a resolution that all new buildings will meet LEED Platinum standards, and committing to a town center that is dense and pedestrian-friendly. Integrated flood control practices and natural storm water management systems acknowledge Greensburg’s age old, tenuous relationship with the source of its prosperity.

A community landmark, this 1890 park once included a botanic garden, zoo, amusement park, and theater, all of which had fallen into disuse after the park’s closure in 1994. Now, Highlands’ Garden Village, developed by Jonathan Rose Companies, has been reborn as a lively and eco-friendly development containing mixed uses and offering housing and homeownership choices for people of all incomes. The historic theater and other park landmarks were retained, as well as gardens and mature trees, maintaining the community’s identity and character.

In 2008, groundbreaking ceremonies for Abu Dhabi’s newest city kicked off a commitment to create a zero-carbon footprint in a highly urban setting. When it is completed in 2018, Masdar City will be car-free, offering a range of transit options and walkable, cycle-friendly streets. Shaded walkways and streetside canals will provide natural cooling of sidewalks in this hot desert climate. The planning team is being led by Foster + Partners with the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company.

Green Communities Competition Program (PDF)