My last two blogs were about a seller of 52 acreshere in the Asheville real estate trying to sustainably develop his property without having to sell to a buyer who wants to do a traditional development of singe family homes with 4 homes on an acre lot. Bill, the owner has created several different options of how the land might be used as a green development, but as I indicated my boss Janeanne and I did present him with one other option and that was to create an Eco-Village or Conservation Subdivision on his property. Bill has studied these type of development concepts over the years but is somewhat hesitant to create an Ecovillage plan because there are so many potential variations of this design that someone would like. His initial strategy is to let potential investors decide what they would like - the blank slate approach. I told him that investors would like to see what is being proposed, the vision of a community and then decide if that is place for them.
We would include the core concepts of an Ecovillage (from the Wikipedia definition) some of which are
- "Green" infrastructural capital;
- autonomous building or clustered housing, to minimize ecological footprint;
- renewable energy;
- cohousing or other forms of supportive community.
The goal of most ecovillages is to be a sustainable habitat providing for most of its needs on site. Its organization also usually depends upon some instructional capital or moral codes - a minimal civics sometimes characterized as eco-anarchism:
- local purchasing so as to support the local economy;
- local food production and distribution;
- moral purchasing to avoid objectionable consumption;
- consensus decision-making for governance;
a choice to respect diversity
Some examples of current eco developments around the country include: Sawyer Hill, Berlin Ma , Ecovillage at Ithaca, NY, the Columbia EcoVillage, Portland ,Oregon. Feel free to post any other others that are your favorites.
Given all the above, Bill already is assuming that there would be a large area for organic gardens and an area for small farm animals ( i.e. chickens, goats, alpacas ,etc). as well as the ability for residents to have horses.
So there are a wide variety of EcoVillage designs and concepts floating around out there, what would your top 3 design features be for such a development were one to be built in your area?
I offered my top 3 choices to Bill that I would like to see in his Asheville Eco Village:
- Having some or all of the green homes equipped with green roofs. A fair amount of gardening can take place on these and they also help offset the impervious footprint of roads and home foundations. Green roofs also cut heating and cooling costs.
- Doing a major solar energy concept plan that could provide a sizable amount of energy for the entire community. There are many new and effective solar technologies on the market from solar roof shingles to the solar film technology. Being able to say that the community is getting a lot of energy off grid will also be a great selling feature. You can look at individual unit features and upgrades to solar collector panels for each knoll. I know this may add to costs, but it is something I think needs to be looked at now in this stage of your thinking.
- Installing or having available as an upgrade a grey water system to recycle water used in the house for irrigation purposes. (there are other variations as well). I have a client who is installing the first such system in his Asheville home and the inspectors have approved it, although admitting they know little about it. The plumber putting it in is training the permitting inspectors on it. With water issues being what they are with the drought, this will be seen as a really important green feature.
So what three great features would you put in such a development? I will pass everything on to Bill for his consideration. In the meantime here are the particulars and a update on Bills 52 acres: