Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 9

"SERENBE IS A DEMONSTRATION AND A MODEL YET ALL OF THE
BIOPHILIC PRINCIPLES AND DESIGN PRACTICES IMPLEMENTED
HERE CAN BE REPLICATED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD."
- STEVE NYGREN

developed a restaurant company which I sold after 22 years.
In the seventh year of my retirement, in an effort to save our
rural paradise on the edge of Atlanta, I became a developer
by default. With this naïve community development attitude
coupled with my understanding of nature through farming
the land and connections to people through my hospitality
profession, I had a unique lens to think about development.
Also, I had not been beaten down by regulations. I focused
on common sense approaches, studied development patterns
prior to 1940, and learned from the experts introduced by the
Rocky Mountain Institute. This expertise gave me confidence
to push forward against many regulatory issues.
My advice to developers, be persistent, ask lots of questions, especially "why", because many times the barriers don't
have well defined reasons and regulations have been created
in silos. Also have a clear vision and lots of patience.
SP: How does agriculture fit into your community development
plans?
SN: Fresh, local food is integral to our neighborhood. We
have a 25-acre certified organic farm with houses built right
alongside. People can sit on their back porch with a gorgeous
view of their own food being grown. The farm supports over
100 members of our CSA, a weekly farmers market, five
restaurants as well as seasonal programming, such as organic
plant sales, cooking classes, wine dinners and Serenbe Foods,
a line of pickles and jams. Another aspect of an agricultural
neighborhood is planting edible and medicinal landscaping,
such as blueberries, serviceberries, fig trees, herbs, and much
more that can be found throughout the neighborhood.
SP: There are many styles of buildings in the three different community sites here, what features makes these buildings green?
SN: All new homes are required to be certified - EarthCraft,

LEED or others. Serenbe is a certified EarthCraft Community. We now require all structures in our third and future
phases to be geothermal and some are solar powered. We
have reduced water and energy consumption by an average
of 50%.
SP: Are there any key lessons from Serenbe that might find an application in larger urban centers, like Atlanta for example?
SN: One I find very important and applicable anywhere is to
daylight stormwater. Imagine if all the underground pipes
with storm water flowing through them were brought into
the light and we "re-streamed" our cities. It would be a simple
way to bring nature back into spaces. Boulder, CO has an
amazing bike path along a creek that weaves across the city.
GA Tech is daylighting it's stormwater and look what's happening in Los Angeles with the LA River Project.
SP: What is your most important innovation thus far, given all of
the work you have accomplished?
SN: Not sure if it is considered an innovation, but we have
slowed down to simply be and remember best practices of
the past. A pedestrian grid vs grids for vehicles, porches
pulled close to the sidewalk vs fences, farms pulled close to
the community rather than development turning its back on
agriculture, planting edible foods vs lawns and ornamentals,
using natural resources vs engineered and the list goes on.
My hope is that Serenbe will serve as a model for others
now and in the future. Serenbe, the communities influenced
by Serenbe and the children who are raised at Serenbe and
influenced by its lifestyle, including my grandchildren, will
be my legacy. I do think David Orr, said it best, "It makes far
better sense to reshape ourselves to fit a finite planet than to
attempt to reshape the planet to fit our infinite wants."

SERENBE'S LIVING MACHINE WASTEWATER
TREATMENT FACILITY.
LIVINGARCHITECTUREMONITOR.COM

LIVING ARCHITECTURE MONITOR / SUMMER 2019 / 9



Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019

Table of Contents
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - IP
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Cover
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Cover 2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - Table of Contents
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 3
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 4
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 5
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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 8
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 9
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Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - 36
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - M1
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A2
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A3
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A4
Green Roofs - Living Architecture Monitor - Summer 2019 - A5
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https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/greenroofs/lam_2009winter
https://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/greenroofs/lam_2008fall
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