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Sandhill: Setting the Standard for Sustainable Living in Bozeman

The site of the future Sandhill development. PHOTO BY MICHAEL RUEBUSCH

By Taylor Owens

The new Sandhill development located off of Kagy Boulevard in Bozeman, Montana spans 160+ acres featuring 34 unique homesites. The community’s landscape stands as a testament to Montana’s rich history with lots between two and three plus acres with views directly to the Bridger Mountains and access to mountain bike, running and walking trails. Set to break ground in March 2024, Sandhill is not only set to be one of the best places to thrive in Bozeman, but is also leading the way in sustainable development in Montana.

“Sandhill is what I would describe as one of the more sustainably designed and to be sustainably installed projects that my team and I have ever worked on,” Will Pereira, group vice president and general manager for Brightview Landscape Development, said. 

The Sandhill community is designed to run on 10 acre-feet of overall water usage or less annually without significant aesthetic sacrifice. An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) with one foot of water. Greywater recycling systems for additional irrigation will be an option for lot buyers for this community of homes.

“To suggest that Sandhill is on the vanguard of the cutting-edge of using some of this technology is absolutely factual,” Pereira said. “Greywater recycling is becoming a little bit more commonplace. You’re starting to hear more buzz about it, but to have it be a formal part of the recommendation within this community is really cutting edge.”

‘Greywater’ refers to all wastewater generated in buildings from streams without contamination. Greywater recycling is the treatment of wastewater from appliances such as showers, baths, and sinks to be re-used and fed back into a property for non-potable purposes.

“The company that I work for, Brightview, is the largest landscape contractor in the country by several orders of magnitude, and we have the great opportunity of building some of the coolest projects in a lot of different geographies,” Pereira said. “From the perspective of a landscape contractor, regardless of location, I can say that Sandhill is truly one of the most sustainably designed projects that I will have ever worked on in my 20-plus year career in this profession.”

Brightview Landscape Development is the landscape construction contractor that will build the public area amenities, as well as maintain them for a period of at least three years, at Sandhill.

Development in Bozeman is becoming more challenging, and water is a finite resource. It is clear sustainable development is much needed in the Gallatin Valley, and Sandhill fits the bill by creating a design that would not have significant impact to the surrounding watersheds, as well as minimal impact to the landscape and native habitats.

“This development is going to have very very minimal impact to the landscape, to the watershed, to the natural water course that runs through the property,” Pereira said. “All of that’s been thought through in a very sustainable way so that native habitat isn’t going to be impacted; surrounding aquifers aren’t going to be adversely affected or drained down; and that’s meaningful to me because I happen to live in the community immediately to the west of this community.”

These sustainable efforts are becoming more commonplace in the greater U.S., but Sandhill is leading the way in the Bozeman and Big Sky areas. Greywater recycling helps manage the finite resource that is water in the West.

“A lot of the conversation lately in the valley has been about water conservation,” Jeff Lusin, principal design architect for the design review board on the Sandhill subdivision, said. “I think a development like this for a single family is unlike any other in the valley with minimal use of water for irrigation on the lots themselves.”

With shifting climate patterns, Bozeman’s water supply is likely to become less reliable in coming years. More moisture is predicted to arrive as rain instead of snow in the future, and warmer temperatures are expected, potentially leading to earlier peak flows and drier summers. Population growth is another factor contributing to more demand on water resources in the Gallatin Valley.

“I’m a proponent, frankly, of development,” Lusin said. “It helps fuel my business, it helps keep home prices semi-affordable. If we shut off the tap to future development, any hope of having any affordable housing in Bozeman and surrounding areas goes right out the window, so development is necessary. Having said that, it can be done without sacrificing the environment and without adversely impacting native watersheds. Sandhill is definitely going to be leading the way and is going to set a new precedent and bar within Gallatin County and Bozeman. I think we’re going to see more of this locally and we’re certainly seeing a lot of it nationally.”

In addition to sustainability, Sandhill is a haven for outdoorsmen looking to become a part of the adventure-driven Bozeman community. The development is located a short distance from a multitude of recreational opportunities for hikers, bikers, runners and anglers alike.

“It’s also been important for us to think of what’s an amenity or a benefit to people who want to live here. So much of it is outdoor driven,” Lusin said. “So much of our efforts are to not duplicate or create costs.”

With its access to outdoor amenities and dedication to sustainability, Sandhill invites residents to embrace a lifestyle that not only respects the past but also shapes a greener and more resilient future for the community.

“A team can always set out with great ideas in mind, but it really takes the county and working within the constraints that you’re given to come up with creative solutions,” Lusin said.

Outlaw Real Estate Partners (OREP), the project’s developer, is collaborating with local organizations on an extensive trail system, which will allow residents to have easy access to downtown Bozeman and National Forest trails, while also preserving the surrounding area. Sandhill will incorporate new trails in the open space that connect to the existing Painted Hills Trail with a marked pedestrian/bike crossing on Kagy Boulevard to provide for a safer crossing.

“We are excited to be developing neighborhoods that serve the community, the environment, and existing and new residents in Bozeman” Mike Magrans, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer of OREP, said. “This is at the forefront of all that we do.”

The collaboration between Brightview Landscape Development, 45 Architecture, Design 5 Landscape Architecture, Houser Engineering, Outlaw Real Estate Partners, and Outlaw Realty showcases a cooperative approach, emphasizing creativity and innovation. As Bozeman faces challenges in water supply and increasing demand, Sandhill emerges as a model for future developments, proving that progress can coexist with environmental stewardship.

“Now is the time for planning in Bozeman and beyond to preserve and protect the landscapes, water and wildlife that make Montana such a desirable place to live,” Eric Ladd, Managing Partner & CEO of OREP, said. “OREP is committed to that philosophy wholeheartedly.”

As the Sandhill development prepares to break ground in 2024, it stands as a beacon of sustainable living in this region of Montana. With a commitment to minimal water usage, greywater recycling systems, and a design that harmonizes with the natural landscape, Sandhill sets a new precedent for environmentally conscious development in Gallatin County.