Grow Community is the First One Planet Community in the United States to start construction on Net-Zero Carbon Homes
FROM THE EARTH SUMMIT IN RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL TODAY (18.06.2012) – BioRegional, founders of the One Planet Living program, will announce the official endorsement of the Grow Community, an 8-acre urban neighborhood development under construction on Bainbridge Island in Washington State. The Grow Community is dedicated to bringing One Planet Living principles to the United States to provide sustainable homes that allow all generations to enjoy a high-quality lifestyle without the high price.
The project is being built to meet the growing need for sustainable living options in the United States and combines single-family homes, townhomes and lofts in pocket neighborhoods clustered around pea patches and shared outdoor spaces. The Grow Community is set to be ready for touring by prospective home-buyers in mid July, 2012. The design was guided by the local community to go far beyond typical green building practices and create opportunities to live within a truly sustainable ecological footprint.
Speaking from Rio+20, Pooran Desai, Co-founder of BioRegional and international director of the One Planet Communities programme said, “The Summit here has the strapline “The future we want”. The Grow Community is creating a 21st century vision of the American dream – an exceptionally high quality of life which doesn’t damage the planet”.
Taking Sustainable Development Beyond LEED
Based on the 10 guiding principles of sustainability developed by BioRegional, One Planet Living helps communities around the world focus on creating a new kind of quality of life within the sustainable resource limits of the planet. Reaching far beyond LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and other sustainable building certification programs, One Planet Communities address entire lifestyle impacts, with the goal of reducing our overall ecological footprint. The Grow Community is the first of its kind in the United States to start construction on sustainable homes using the One Planet Community development guidelines. From zero carbon homes and transportation strategies, programs that increase local food consumption and procurement policies that support a local green economy, the Grow Community is applying One Planet Living solutions to create a cost-effective, creative, inspirational and replicable community on the leading-edge of sustainable development practices.
“Grow is a place where residents can live a more connected lifestyle. The site, the buildings and the community amenities are all designed to create spontaneous interactions and foster deeper relationships, from the way the paths cross, to the community center and the urban gardens,” says Marja Preston of Asani, the sustainable development firm behind the Grow project. “We are creating a new type of neighborhood, where health and happiness are an integral part of the living experience, where residents can live comfortably, knowing that their footprint on the planet is considerably lighter and their time is free to focus on the things that matter to them.”
Located immediately adjacent to the center of town, Grow Community will foster a five-minute lifestyle where residents can walk to restaurants, the grocery store, schools and the ferry to downtown Seattle. Schools, the library and cultural opportunities are all within walking distance of the community. The project is expected to create local jobs and support existing local businesses.
Grow Community is Making Sustainable Living Affordable and Easy
With a goal of making low-carbon living both attainable and affordable, Asani has worked with local partners to provide solar panels on each of the homes. Each home is designed to achieve net-zero energy, with enough solar panels on the roof to not only provide enough energy to power the home, but also to create potential economic returns to the homeowners. With lower energy and utility bills, the cost of living in a home in Grow Community will be equal to or less than a typical home in the area. In addition, the car share program at Grow will include an electric car powered by solar panels, creating a zero-carbon transportation option for residents.
The project, the first of its kind in the United States, will test a new concept for urban infill development. Asani and BioRegional will collaborate to create a One Planet Learning Center at the project, to gather feedback and provide information about One Planet Living. BioRegional will monitor the project’s success with achieving the One Planet Living sustainability principles over the next eight years, and Asani is committed to sharing lessons learned to further the conversation on how we can live well, within the resource limits of our planet.
“Working with BioRegional and the One Planet Living framework, has challenged us to design a community that will create the opportunity for people to live a low-carbon lifestyle,” says Marja Preston. “This project will be a prototype for a new type of neighborhood, and we hope it will add value to the discussion on how we can all create new ways of living sustainably in the urban environment.”
BioRegional North America’s Director, Greg Searle added, ‘What Asani is building today will be copied by other developers tomorrow. It has been a privilege working with such a forward thinking company.’
Take a look at Grow’s new site
Keep up to date with BioRegional and partners’ progress at Rio+20
BioRegional and its One Planet partners are currently participating in the Rio+20 Earth Summit to share ideas for sustainable development based on their practical experience in developing communites, regions and businesses using the One Planet principles framework.
Geof Syphers, Chief Sustainability Officer at Codding Enterprises and Kevin Hydes, CEO of deep green building services engineering company, Integral Group, and former Chair of the World Green Building Council (pictured left to right) discuss the relative strengths of One Planet Living and LEED methodologies for sustainable community developments.
Ever been in this situation?
A developer sets out to build a community that will use only half the typical amount of drinking water. He has a clear set of strategies and technologies to cut water use, but is left wondering why environmental groups say he is not doing enough to protect water resources. Exasperated, he asks, “Isn’t this green enough? What more can I do?”
Or maybe this is more like it. Another developer sets out to design a zero carbon neighborhood but gets bogged down along the way. The zero carbon challenge seems to encompass everything from street trees to city bus service. With so many ways in which development seems to impact the climate, the developer has a hard time creating a plan to achieve his vision of zero carbon living. He is overwhelmed and in need of a plan.
These situations are the legacy of two rating systems. But they don’t have to be.
In the first case, the developer used the US Green Building Council’s LEED® rating system, known for encouraging high efficiency, low-impact building and neighborhood developments. The strength of LEED comes from its guideline reference manuals which provide specific recommendations on everything from the amount of fresh air needed in buildings to encouraging development near existing grocery stores, schools and jobs.
The developer working with LEED has an easy time setting a clear performance goal to use less than 50% of the drinking water allowed under a national standard, but has no idea of whether his water efficient project will help or hurt local water resources. By only looking at the project’s performance relative to a standard, he cannot draw any conclusions about the impact on local infrastructure, streams, wetlands and habitat. He has no idea about the actual impact of his project.
In the second case, the developer is using BioRegional’s One Planet Communities® program, a system known for encouraging development where everyone can easily live with a one-planet ecological footprint. The strength of One Planet Communities comes from its reference to absolute impacts like species diversity, aquifer depth and self-reported happiness. These ultimate goals are clearly more important than proximate goals like water efficiency because they actually test for sustainability. A project’s water use that further stresses a limited supply—no matter how efficient—is not sustainable. But because ultimate goals can seem so distant from our day-to-day decisions, the developer looking for a clear plan to reach zero carbon has no idea where to begin.
As LEED and One Planet Communities continue to refine their programs, we are starting to experiment with how the two can work together. At Sonoma Mountain Village in California, both programs are in use, where they perform very different functions. The LEED provides a great collection of best practices and helps the team develop detailed tasks to move toward sustainability, while One Planet Communities provides verification that the sum total of actions suggested by LEED achieves “true sustainability,” meaning that if everyone on Earth lived in identical communities we would need just one planet to provide all of our resources.
The One Planet Communities program also verifies that every action suggested by LEED truly contributes to achieving sustainability. In one example, LEED-ND suggested leaving soil with steep slopes undisturbed, but the process used in One Planet Communities revealed that the berms on site were stockpiled topsoil which needed to be spread to restore soil health, improve community connectivity and support better stormwater controls. But such stories are nuanced and can be difficult to communicate.
The success of any rating system lies in its ability to tell a complex story in a simple way. LEED gained its popularity and effectiveness by doing that for building performance, and used the Olympic standard (silver/gold/platinum) to generate some healthy competition as well. BREAAM offered a similar “ladder to success” with Bespoke, as has Green Star, CASBEE and other programs around the world.
One Planet Communities uses these other rating systems as a baseline standard for issues like efficiency and material selection, and then reaches out to the social, land use and lifestyle issues beyond. This is long overdue, for what good is an energy efficient building if it is full of unhappy people who will not maintain it?
Others are moving in this direction, too. Green-minded groups around the world are shifting focus from single buildings to communities to Ecodistricts, searching for ways to get the most out of our efficient technologies by really looking at what drives social behavior, and it is precisely at this intersection where we need both LEED and One Planet Communities.
One system provides the detailed guidance and performance standards, the commissioning feedback and a competitive spirit. The other keeps us honest, verifies that we are not simply “buying green,” and gets us to consider how the design of a town square can shape our behavior in ways that impacts our health and our environment.
As Sonoma Mountain Village and other projects experiment with using LEED and One Planet Communities together, we will keep you posted on what we learn. So far, it seems like an excellent pairing.
As part of the ongoing endorsement of Sonoma Mountain Village (SOMO) in California, USA, BioRegional has recently reviewed the progress against the project’s One Planet Action Plan. SOMO’s developer, Codding Enterprises, have been operating within a particularly difficult economic climate resulting in the delay of construction of the new build residential phase. However, a significant amount of progress has been made, focusing on the existing buildings and the business space.
Some of the key achievements include good progress against the pathway to zero carbon, with a 1.14 MWe PV array and the start of construction of an additional 1 MWe array. All occupied existing buildings have undergone significant retrofits for water and energy efficiency and one tenant, Comcast, achieved the Platinum LEED rating. The Comcast retrofit managed to achieve a 98% diversion of waste away from landfill which is the highest in LEED history. Furthermore, Codding have been working very hard lobbying for a regional passenger train service in Sonoma county, which will have a station located in a 10 minute walk from the town square, as part of the sustainable transport strategy for the site.
Much has been done to set up community facilities including developing an Event Centre which held 200 events last year and gives priority to environmental groups. There are now over 700 jobs on site in the commercial premises and a successful green business incubator has been set up.
Codding worked with BioRegional to assess the embodied carbon impacts of their light weight steel frame system. It was found that for the building specification being considered this system had a significantly lower carbon impact than a standard concrete frame (though savings were smaller if compared to low carbon concrete).
There are early indications that SOMO has become a catalyst in their region and inspired other developers to create plans for zero carbon zero waste communities. Codding are showing that it is possible for a developer to reach outside the typical scope of a company and really influence the wider community to become more sustainable. Congratulations to Codding Enterprises on the many successes achieved in the first North American One Planet Community!
You can read the full Annual Review report by clicking on the link below:
And you can find the original One Planet Action Plan here:
BioRegional is launching an Expert Panel for the One Planet initiative, which will draw on the knowledge and experience of leading names in international sustainability to help keep the One Planet initiative and its endorsed partners and projects at the cutting edge of green thinking and technology.
With an initial focus on the One Planet Communities programme, panel members have been selected for their expertise in areas including urban planning, green building, ecological footprinting, policy, and campaigning.
Its six independent members are: Susan Burns, CEO of ecological footprinting think tank, Global Footprint Network; Jim Heid, President and co-founder of US based sustainable development advisory company, UrbanGreen; Kevin Hydes, CEO of deep green building services engineering company, Integral Group and former Chair of the World Green Building Council; Tony Juniper, UK based author and environmental campaigner; Professor Li Shirong, Professor of construction management at Chongqing University and Deputy Director General of Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Commission, China; and Raf Tuts, Chief of the Urban Environment and Planning Branch, UN-HABITAT.
They are joined by representatives from BioRegional’s endorsed One Planet Communities partner organisations, with their experience of practical delivery of the One Planet Communities programme: Pete Halsall, BioRegional Quintain Ltd; Geof Syphers, Codding Enterprises and Paulo Reis Silva, Pelicano.
The One Planet Communities programme is using the concepts of One Planet Living and sustainable ecological footprint to create a network of the earth’s greenest neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods will be showcased at the Rio+20 World Summit in 2012 to demonstrate to policy makers, business leaders and civil society that it can be easy, attractive and affordable for people to live happy and healthy lives within a fair share of the earth’s resources. BioRegional are excited and pleased to have the support of the Expert Panel in making this happen.
The Panel will be run using a virtual network, with three group sessions each year – the first is scheduled for 17th March.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has featured One Planet Communities in their new 30WAYSin30DAYS climate change campaign. The campaign states: “UNEP’s 30 case studies prove that solutions to combat Climate Change are available, accessible and replicable”
Crest Nicholson BioRegional Quintain’s OneBrighton, UK and Codding Enterprises’ Sonoma Mountain Village, USA, two of our fully endorsed One Planet Communities, were featured in last week’s CNBC Responsible Business Television series.
Pooran Desai OBE, the International Director for the OPC programme and Co-founder of BioRegional gave his views in the film on how to make sustainable living easy, attractive and affordable.
Here is another chance to see what they said about these ground breaking sustainable projects around the world.
More Videos about One Planet Communities can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/1planetcommunities.
Tune into your region’s CNBC channel at the following times to see several of the ground-breaking projects showcased and an interview with International Director, Pooran Desai OBE:
1st Broadcast: 30 October 17:30 SIN/HK Time
2nd Broadcast: 31 October 09:30 SIN/HK Time
1st Broadcast: 30 October 08:30 CET
2nd Broadcast: 30 October 13:30 CET
Single Broadcast: 30 October 16:00 EST
If you miss the broadcast the film will go up on www.oneplanetcommunities.org early next week.
Santa Rosa. The North Bay Business Journal has recognized Codding Enterprises, the real estate developer behind Sonoma Mountain Village, as one of the best places to work in California’s North Bay region. An excerpt: Codding has transformed into an investment holding company with interests spanning construction, green building, clean energy and mixed-use community development…
The company provides the full spectrum of employee benefits, along with telecommuting, flextime and social events. “Wine and Worms” had the employees making composting worm bins, while enjoying local wines. Another event had them volunteering to plant native grasses along Cotati Creek. Read the full article in the North Bay Business Journal.
Tuesday October 26 2010 @ 10:45am PST. Greg Searle of BioRegional North America and Indigo Teiwes of Carbon Advantage will be speaking on metrics and footprinting at the EcoDistrict Summit in Portland. The conference will focus on learning from integrated district-scale sustainability projects and will explore the topics of district utilities, green buildings, smart grid, transportation, urban habitat, water management, waste management and community development.
Wednesday October 27 2010 @ 9:00am PST. ONE PLANET TRAINING COURSE. Eco-districts + Eco-lifestyles = One Planet Communities. Learn from Geof Syphers, Chief Sustainability Officer at Sonoma Mountain Village, how this 1,900 unit masterplanned, solar-powered community is being designed to create an 83% reduction in total carbon footprint of its residents — and creating thousands of green jobs with its green business incubator. The workshop goes on to teach the practical implementation of the One Planet Living process, including strategies for Zero Carbon, Zero Waste, and Sustainable Food and Transportation. You will help create a Sustainability Action Plan for a real-world new project and learn the science and process of the One Planet Living program through its application. The program will emphasize “fostering” and “enabling” eco-lifestyles for residents in new build and existing building situations, which have been shown at the BedZED eco-neighborhood in the UK to have contributed 42% of total carbon savings. Learn from Greg Searle, Executive Director at BioRegional North America and a former BedZED resident, how this eco-lifestyles program succeeded and is evolving in One Planet Communities around the world. Read More.
Mexico City. For the second year, Greg Searle of BioRegional North America will be giving a 2-night seminar and workshop for a Diploma Course in “Design of Sustainable Communities at the Architecture Department of the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City October 19-20. He will be joined by Daniel Viliesid of newly-formed BioRegional Mexico.