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Cohousing: Green Building Trend and Opportunity - Building Priorities Briefing

This month we explore the cohousing trend in residential green building. We start with an audio tour of a cohousing community now under construction in New Hampshire. The sustainable housing development uses wood pellet boilers to provide heat and hot water, so the Energy Minute is about using biomass as a heating fuel. In the third half of the show we hear about what opportunities the cohousing trend creates for builders and developers. (podcast) (photos)


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Music by Alexander Blu

Nubanusit Neighborhood and Farm, rendering. The concept of cohousing came to the U.S. from Denmark in the 1980s.

Program notes

A green home is an expression of the homeowner's values -- and in some cases, a whole lot more.

Case study: Nubanusit Neighborhood and Farm, Peterborough, NH.

Cohousing is collaborative community development. Residents participate in every decision concerning the design of their communities, often through the consensus decisions of a non-hierarchical management organization. Stephen Lacey, host of "Inside Renewable Energy," filed this report from Peterborough, New Hampshire, where homeowners are designing their entire neighborhood, literally from the ground up.

Nubanusit Neighborhood and Farm web site includes a construction photo gallery

"Inside Renewable Energy," Stephen Lacey's podcast at Renewable Energy Access magazine, which published a text article on Nubanusit.

Energy Minute: Biomass -- Using Renewable Fuel for Central Heat

Biomass is slowly gaining popularity for space heat -- in part because it's a renewable energy source, and in part because it's less expensive to operate than a conventional furnace. The Nubanusit development uses wood pellet boilers to provide heat and hot water. What are the facts?

Heating Fuel Comparison Calculator (Excel), Department of Energy

Tarm USA web site - maker of the 6 wood pellet boilers used in the Nubanusit development

Songaia Cohousing Community north of Seattle, Washington.

Third half: Interview with Craig Ragland, Executive Director, Cohousing Association of the United States.

Nubanusit is one example of cohousing, but one point does not make a trend. What about other examples? Is energy efficiency a common theme? Can builders get in on the action? What about financing? Denis Du Bois interviews a cohousing expert to shed some light on these and other issues.

Transcript -- published at the Seattle P-I Green Building Blog.

Cohousing Association of the US web site

Songaia Cohousing Community - a cohousing community in Washington state. There are over 100 built cohousing communities in the U.S., with more in planning.