FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - Families of the Simpson Wisser neighborhood, here, were joined by state, city, business and community leaders to celebrate the opening of what could be the greenest neighborhood on a military installation, Nov. 10.

Army Hawaii Family Housing's (AHFH) Simpson Wisser neighborhood is one of an elite group of residential communities chosen to participate in the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) pilot program.

The AHFH partnership between the Army and developer Actus Lend Lease are taking a leadership role in establishing and testing the first national standard for the development of neighborhoods integrating smart growth, new urbanism and green building principles.

"Green building principles at Simpson Wisser encompass more than the just the design of the neighborhood and homes," said Claire Ridding-Johnston, AHFH project director. "The program involves the participation of families who have the most opportunity to make an impact on their community. Awareness and education take place throughout a family's residency, which help encourage more sustainable habits."

As part of the USGBC's pilot program, AHFH residents are required to attend a two-hour orientation to learn how to care for and maintain innovative, energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable features of their home and community, and incorporate green living practices into their daily routine.

Additionally, construction subcontractors and property management and maintenance staff receive training on building and maintenance practices required to meet the pilot's green building standards.

Simpson Wisser and its families will serve as a model for sustainable neighborhood development across the nation.

"This is an opportunity to develop neighborhoods that support and enrich the lives of U.S. Soldiers and their families, and it has the potential to change the world's view of residential community development," Ridding-Johnston added.

In an address to guests, Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, recalled taking part in the neighborhood's groundbreaking and expressed his amazement on how much has been accomplished for Army family communities in just a few short years.

"A year ago, I participated in the groundbreaking of Simpson Wisser, and today I'm celebrating the opening of a beautiful neighborhood designed for Army families," said Margotta.

He added that the homes were specifically and thoughtfully designed, taking into consideration not just the material needs, but also the human needs of Army families.

A traditional Hawaiian blessing with Army and AHFH leadership and families was followed by an open house, which gave guests an opportunity to learn more about the special features of the LEED-ND pilot and homes.

The Simpson Wisser neighborhood is expected to receive LEED-ND certification in spring of 2010. Compliance includes third-party verification that site locations and neighborhood design strategies meet the highest levels of environmentally responsible and sustainable development, including density maintenance to reduce urban sprawl; energy-efficient, pedestrian-oriented development; protection of threatened species; and provisions for social well-being and healthy living.

Certification also includes specifications for home design and construction. All Simpson Wisser homes will meet, or exceed, LEED-certified standards.