We are giving away a copy of Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett. Check out this excerpt and don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win the book!
Cohousing communities succeed at being sustainable because they achieve sustainability in several facets: environmental, social, and economic. Their architecture often includes green buildings, renewable energy systems, water conservation measures, sustainably harvested wood, and non- or low-toxic materials. But just as important as the use of sustainable materials are the social aspects of cohousing: the placement of cohousing communities within existing neighborhoods, the sharing of resources, and the positive group education around sustainability. This type of development brings social benefits — being close to friends and neighbors — as well as reduced consumption, all of which make cohousing a more sustainable lifestyle. As such, cohousing is a regional, national, and international model for sustainable community development at large.
Cohousing residents are at the forefront of the green revolution. They include plans for optimizing energy efficiency when designing their communities (solar panels, rainwater capture, ventilation systems that reduce dependence on air conditioning). On a day-to-day basis they share cars and laundry facilities, champion recycling, and create a community-wide composting effort. The collaborative nature of both designing and living in cohousing facilitates a continual educational process around environmental awareness and green living. A cohousing community is the very definition of a sustainable neighborhood.
Cohousing as a Model for Efficient Sustainable Development
Institutionally, cohousing addresses development issues such as community building, proximity to services, energy conservation, and environmental stewardship, as well as key neighborhood design elements that include pedestrian-friendly, senior-friendly, and earth-friendly development. Cohousing communities include appropriately scaled houses in safe, car-free, walkable neighborhoods. Many cohousing sites are close to downtown and public transportation with easy access to services and are built on infill sites with greater density than their suburban counterparts.
Many cohousing communities have reintegrated work and housing by providing on-site office space and inserting work spaces and housing into livable city centers. FrogSong cohousing in Cotati, California, for example, includes a row of commercial spaces that offer some basic amenities to the residents and augment the existing services near the site. Other cohousing communities have set aside space for residents to work within the common facilities. Such shared work space provides an alternative to commuting to an office and a social environment that is missing for those who telecommute or who work alone at home.
At an average size of 15 to 35 units, cohousing developments are relatively small. However, by addressing larger urban and regional design issues, cohousing provides models for better development practices in which residents benefit from the opportunities available in their immediate vicinity. In all of these ways, cohousing communities contribute to mixed-use, mixed-income, and intergenerational communities that are more similar to traditional villages — and a dramatic change from the typical suburban communities. In doing so, cohousing design builds on and exceeds many of the principles of contemporary neighborhood design such as transit-oriented development (TOD), smart growth, and traditional neighborhood development (TND), and far exceeds the standards for the US Green Building Council’s LEED for Nieghborhood Development.
Excerpted from Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett. Published by New Society Publishers.
WIN THE BOOK! Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities by Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett.. Winner will be announced on July 19. Good luck!
Image Credit: PLACEMATTERS/Flickr
Please email Katie at Katiew@care2team.com to claim your new book. Thanks to everyone who entered!