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Subject of a popular blog, green building project 60 Bragg Hill finally underway in Chester County

When it comes to sharing experiences, Barney Leonard just can't help himself. As a veteran of corporate communications, Leonard has spent his career blogging and filming for profit. After five years searching for a home in Chester County, Leonard and his wife stumbled on a piece of land with views of the Brandywine River, nestled in the wooded seclusion of Pocopson Township near Chadds Ford. They decided to build their dream home and they decided to build it green. Leonard began chronicling the experience on a blog, 60BraggHill.com, named for the lot, in order to make some extra revenue and gain community support. This week, after three years of well-documented battles with state and federal regulators and Mother Nature herself, construction began on 60 Bragg Hill, the most sustainable property in Chester County.

"We decided that, not that we are tree huggers, but if you are going to start from scratch, why not be smart and use green building techniques," says Leonard. "What we didn't realize is how difficult that would be to do. We just broke ground but it took a long, long time."

As his project ran into several roadblocks, the blog became increasingly dramatic, gaining hundreds of weekly readers. For one thing, the wood from their property had been pillaged by loggers, leaving only stumps and remnants that had to be collected for construction. The property nudged up against the natural habitat of the endangered Bog Turtle, living in nearby wetlands. It wasn't easy being green, especially with an audience. But eventually, local construction companies began helping out, hoping to show off their sustainable abilities, and community support kept pressure on the powers-that-be. Today, Leonard firmly believes that without the blog, he never would have gotten this far.

"I will say this: the government agencies who issue permits and environmental groups who provide clearances for land disturbance tend to be highly conservative and overly cautious because these issues are new," says Leonard. "I want to go through this so maybe it will be a little bit easier for the next guy."

Source: Barney Leonard, 60BraggHill.com
Writer: John Steele
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