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By Laura Landsbaum

Sustainability stood out as one of the core components for The Woodlands as conceived by George Mitchell in the 1970s and continues today with Howard Hughes. Using resources efficiently is critical to remaining faithful to that original vision as the master planned community celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. This mission is not about winning awards. It centers around making The Woodlands a better place to Live, Work, Play, Learn and Pray. But two major awards do illustrated The Woodlands’ sustainability commitment.

In 2022, The Woodlands earned LEED Precertification from the U.S. Green Building Council, becoming the first master planned community in Texas to achieve this status. The Woodlands, at 44.5 square miles, is also the largest master planned community in the world to earn precertification.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED,  is a building certification program that includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of neighborhoods. The goal centers around helping building owners and operators use resources efficiently and be environmentally aware. 

Achieving LEED Precertification of The Woodlands — a large-scale, award-winning community that opened in 1974 and is today home to over 123,000 residents — exemplifies Howard Hughes commitment to the longterm vision of creating a self-sustaining ecosystem, one that anticipated to a remarkable degree almost 50 years ago.

The Woodlands, Texas Sunset Over Lake Woodlands

The LEED framework encompasses social, economic and environmental performance indicators and strategies with a clear, data-driven means of benchmarking and communicating progress. LEED for Communities helps local leaders execute responsible, sustainable and specific plans for natural systems, energy, water, waste, transportation and other factors that contribute to the quality of life. 

“A sustainable community strives to offer its residents a higher living standard. A LEED community takes action and delivers measurable outcomes that improve overall quality of life for residents,” United States Green Building Council interim CEO Peter Templeton says.

LEED Precertification recognizes the many initiatives implemented over the years in The Woodlands promoting a sustainable quality of life immersed in nature, with extensive open space, diverse home products, highly acclaimed schools and urban amenities. Many people move to The Woodlands seeking that lifestyle. Companies follow suit and move to The Woodlands, seeking to also benefit from the community’s strong workforce and offer employees a much sought-after work/life balance.

“People and businesses want to be located in communities that they trust will embody their values while offering an exceptional quality of life,” says Jim Carman, president of the Houston Region for Howard Hughes. “Howard Hughes takes a people-centric approach to developing vital, sustainable communities that enhance the quality of life of all in our communities — an approach that is intrinsically linked to economic growth and community outreach programs that support our environmental and social measures designed to increase energy efficiencies, lower our carbon footprint, and increase community connectivity.

“The Woodlands offers 1.5 jobs per household, a goal first envisioned by Mitchell and realized today as Howard Hughes continues to drive economic and sustainable growth, with more people commuting into The Woodlands daily for employment than commuting out as a result of our robust job market — one that allows for shorter commute times and tremendous amenities for all who live, work, or visit here.”

Meeting BOMA Standards and More

Additionally, Howard Hughes has been awarded the prestigious Building Owners and Management Association (BOMA) 360 Performance Program designation for a total of 25 commercial buildings in The Woodlands. According to BOMA lnternationial, Howard Hughes ranks in the Top 7 companies overall for the number of designated commercial properties in its portfolio.

The BOMA 360 Performance Program sets the standard worldwide for operational best practices in the commercial real estate industry. Earning the BOMA 360 label demonstrates that a building outperforms the competition across all areas of operations and management. The program benchmarks building performance in six key areas: operations and management, security and safety, training and education, energy, environmental sustainability and tenant relations.

“Having earned this prestigious designation demonstrates a strong partnership with our tenants in The Woodlands,” says Laura Manning, CPM, vice president – portfolio manager, for Howard Hughes. “We are honored to be recognized with these BOMA certifications and be one of the top-ranked companies worldwide.”

In The Woodlands, sustainability is a way of life — one that’s been ingrained since its very beginnings.


Many thanks to The Woodlands 50th Anniversary Sponsors:

FOUNDING – Howard Hughes

LEGACY – Woodforest National Bank

HERITAGE – Waste Connections Inc.

GOLD – Entergy Texas, Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital

SILVER – SVN/JBeard Real Estate, The John Cooper School

PRODUCER – The Woodlands Township