This section is devoted to anything and everything related to sustainable energy.

Urban Land group visits Grow

The prestigious Urban Land Institute held its Spring Conference in Seattle in early May, and Grow Community was both hot topic and host.

Grow welcomed thought-leaders in spheres ranging from development to investment, planning and design, as they came to Bainbridge Island for site visits throughout the conference.

Grow has been part of the ULI conversation since the project began, our community being a case study for creating healthy places, promoting intergenerational living, and integrating sustainability at scale.

Discussion threads running through the week included:

Creating a legacy. Pooran Desai, founder of the organizations BioRegional, which established the One Planet Living Principles, described effort at Grow as a legacy – both for the region, and in changing the conversation around the way we develop future communities. While the project has had many twists and turns, its consistency around creating a place for all ages to be comfortable and live in a more sustainable way is a profound achievement.

Intergenerational living. Visitors from the ULI appreciated Grow’s commitment to developing a community with many varied home types, to give people at every stage of life a comfortable place to live. It marks a change from development patterns often seen in the United States, where we tend to segregate generations, versus other communities around the world that embrace keeping mixed generations together.

Sustainability. Many of the ULI visitors came from places where a push for sustainability is just beginning, compared to the Seattle region where it is becoming the norm. Visitors were impressed by the range of areas where Grow challenged the norm: energy, materials, solar, and open space. Built Green standards allowed us to use a local certification program and consider our efforts from a neighborhood level, integrating our sustainability goals through One Planet Living. Grow gave visitors a model they can follow and incorporate into their own communities.

The Grow Community development team and investors thank residents for continuing to allow for guests like ULI to visit. These visits and conversations plant the seeds for other communities to come. They also provide the inspiration for others to take on the challenges of sustainable growth and living – allowing others to take what we have learned here, and spread the best of what we have for our One Planet.

Grow sponsors new ‘terrestrial’ podcast on KUOW

Grow Community is all about making smart choices for the Earth – how we build and how we live.  Now we’re proud to sponsor the new podcast “terrestrial” on local radio station KUOW, exploring “the choices we make in a world we have changed.” Host Ashley Ahearn travels the country — from ranches in Oregon to churches in Colorado — to bring listeners stories about people making personal choices in the face of environmental change.

Subscribe to “terrestrial” through Apple podcasts, or listen online at here.

PSE celebrates Grow’s energy efficiency program

Puget Sound Energy visited Grow Community recently to celebrate the success of our Energy Efficiency program for Multifamily buildings.

Our development team and PHC Construction welcomed PSE officials for the occasion, to fete an effort that has been ongoing for several years.

Incentives from the PSE program helped offset costs for the heat pump hot water heating systems within the Salal, Juniper and Tsuga buildings.

Coupled with rooftop solar production, the program has greatly reduced energy costs in these multifamily buildings. Owners benefit additionally from solar power net-metering and production incentives.

We hope to repeat the program with other multifamily buildings now underway in Grow’s third neighborhood, the Park.

“It was a great morning visit, and an overdue tour for the PSE team that has been working with us to help Grow’s goals of energy efficiency,” said Greg Lotakis, project manager. “PSE has been a great partner.”

Grow Community’s multifamily solar program was chronicled recently at Solar Power World Online. Read the story here.

Built Green gives Grow 5 Stars

Weather-tight outside, snug and warm within. Built Green gives Grow Community phase 2, the Grove, a prestigious 5 Star rating in its new online feature.

Built Green cites Grow homes’ excellent standards for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and top-quality materials in home that “cultivate a healthy, happy, and sustainable community for all ages.”

Built Green helps homebuyers find quality, affordable homes that offer opportunities to protect the health of their families and the Northwest environment. Built Green homes are designed to provide homeowners with comfortable, durable, environmentally friendly homes that are cost-effective to own and operate.

These resource-efficient homes are crafted to exceed building codes and provide homeowners with years of healthy, quality living, while protecting our families and the precious Northwest environment.

Read the Built Green feature on Grow Community here.

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Three flavors of multifamily solar at Grow Community

Condos, apartments, townhomes – three flavors of multifamily construction, each with its own challenges for reaping the power, and financial benefits, of solar investment.

Asani development company is tackling all three at once at Grow Community.

On buildings dubbed the Salal, the Juniper and the Elan, now complete in the project’s expansive second phase, solar arrays will benefit both homebuyers and renters alike.

One roof apiece, with many beneficiaries beneath.

“Our investors said, ‘let’s go for it,'” said Greg Lotakis, Asani president and Grow Community project manager. “Without their desire to be the largest solar community in Washington, and wanting to plant the solar flag in the ground, we wouldn’t be doing this. Without their support, it wouldn’t be possible.”
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The Salal condominiums, with 12 units spread over three stories, is effectively a “community solar” project on a rooftop. Solar was included in the purchase price – no option – and incentives from the State of Washington will be apportioned equally among condominium owners, with each owning a one-twelfth interest in the array.

Asani worked with state officials and the local utility provider to craft a program that satisfies the complicated provisions of Washington law.

The opening was a provision allowing common use of single roof for solar in multifamily buildings. Asani banked on prospective buyers seeing shared solar as a good investment as they bought their condo units, one that promised annual paybacks while lowering operational costs of their building through solar harvest.

Solar was designed into the Salal building. A single production meter monitors total system output, while 12 sub-meters track consumption in individual units for utility billing.

Buyers are rolling the cost of solar, about $15,000 per unit, into their mortgages to take advantage of low interest rates at the time of purchase.

“We wanted it very clean and divisible by all the owners,” Lotakis said. “I think it would be pretty difficult for six, 10, 12 people to come together and agree upon how the system would work after the fact. This gave us a chance to just deliver it.”

Lotakis expects the 44kW array to produce about $1,500 in incentives per unit annually – cumulatively much higher than the state’s $5,000 cap on incentives for a single-family residence.

Next door at the 12-unit Juniper apartment building, the 44kW rooftop array is similar but the equation is different. Renters will enjoy the benefits of solar production through net-metering, but not the annual state solar rebate. That will go to the building’s single owner, and will max out at the state’s $5,000 cap.

The two-story Elan townhomes presented the most straightforward challenge. Individual 6-9kW solar packages are offered for each section of the common roof. No modules will cross the “virtual lot lines,” making each system self-contained within the owner’s patch of rooftop. Three systems have been installed so far.

Growing neighborhood solar

From project inception, Asani set out to build the most environmentally friendly development possible.

Relentless sourcing of renewable materials and low-impact fixtures, and close connection to the island’s town center, have positioned Grow Community in the marketplace for healthy lifestyle-conscious buyers.

The project’s first phase is noted for its shared pea-patch gardens and winding footpaths through close-set homes. The second and third phases are oriented around a woodland grove and open greenway.

The project has earned recognition in national magazines and won awards from local and national homebuilder associations. It is only the second planned community in North America to be certified under the One Planet Living standards.

Grow’s first phase of 23 detached units sold out immediately, and every homeowner chose to add the solar package.
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Asani has also showcased Made In Washington components to support the state’s solar industry.

Modules at the Salal are by Itek Energy of Bellingham, while the Juniper and Elan arrays include APsystems microinverters manufactured and distributed by Blue Frog Solar of Poulsbo.

Using a mix of in-state and out-of-state components allows Asani to achieve different price points for buyers while optimizing local incentives where possible.

Lotakis cautions that Grow Community’s multifamily solar program relies on particularities in Washington law. Multifamily programs elsewhere would face their own challenges, although he believes Grow offers a useful model for developers nationwide to consider.

With the Salal building only recently certified for occupancy, new residents have no comparative data on their energy savings. But the solar component was attractive, as it has been to buyers throughout the three-neighborhood, 142-home project due to be completed in late 2017.

“Solar was a factor,” one new resident said, “along with a development that encourages a sense of community.”

Between the federal tax credit and annual rebates from the state, Lotakis said, owners buying into the Salal condominiums could have their share of the common array paid off within five years.

“And because they’ve rolled the cost of solar into their mortgage, they don’t really see it,” he said.
“Those production checks will be like a dividend.”

Grow ‘hits the Easy button’ for sustainability

It takes a lot of work to make sustainability simple.

But making the choice of a low-impact lifestyle easy for buyers was the goal at Grow Community from the very start.

In an article titled “We Only Have One Planet,” Reserve Magazine explores the history of Washington’s largest planned solar community, and the thoughtful features that have earned it the prestigious One Planet Living certification.

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“We wanted to hit the Easy button for people,” Asani President Greg Lotakis tells the magazine, “so they could get in and just focus on the things we can’t control, which are creating community, enjoying community and enjoying each other.”

Leading elements of Grow’s high-performing homes include rooftop solar arrays, airtight construction and insulation, and nontoxic construction materials, among other low-impact features. Grow homes use 30 to 40 percent less water than a typical Pacific Northwest home, the magazine notes.

It all adds up to a formula for sustainable, intergenerational living. Grow does the hard work, so residents can get on with the fun stuff: living.

“This idea that we can start to create places where generations share space, where elders pass along wisdom, where you have children who are being looked after by friends or grandparents and where young couples or single folks get a chance to live in a community where there’s a mix of support — to us, it’s a recipe for success in the future,” Greg says.

Read the whole story online here.

One planet, one community, and one goal: a new model for sustainable living.

Grow Community was founded on the principles of One Planet Living, proving that from design and construction to the choices we make as neighbors, we can live within the productive capacity of the earth.

How are we doing? Find out in our “One Planet Annual Verification Report,” now available for download HERE.

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It’s Grow’s report on itself, a self-assessment of our progress toward Health and Happiness, Local Food and Sustainable Water, Culture, and other key indicators of a forward-thinking community.

1planet-reportDid you know:

  • 85 percent of Grow residents say they’re walking more, and 31 percent are biking more, since joining our community
  • More than 65 percent participate in our bountiful shared garden program
  • Every resident in our first neighborhood, the Village, has invested in a home solar system, making Grow the largest planned solar community in Washington State – and still growing as our next two neighborhoods build out!

We’re proud of our success so far, and will strive with our residents to meet the goals of One Planet Living. It’s built into Grow Community by design, and comes with the lifestyle.

Download and read the report HERE, and find out more about what Grow has to offer the earth, and you.

Salal goes solar

Washington’s biggest planned solar community is getting bigger.

With completion of the Salal building in the new Grove neighborhood comes our latest solar array – and it’s a big one.

Installers were on the Salal’s roof last week finishing putting up 157 – 280watt high-output solar panels by itek Energy of Bellingham, a genuine Made In Washington product.

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System output will be 44 kilowatts. For perspective, the individual home arrays in Grow Community’s first neighborhood, the Village, add up to about 150 kilowatts capacity. So we’re boosting our solar output dramatically on a single rooftop, with more to come.

The array is expected to offset at least half of the Salal building’s energy use. Net metering will give residents financial credit for their interest of the array’s production, proof that solar is a great match for multifamily construction.

Remember that the Salal’s model home is now open by appointment. Contact live@growbainbridge.com to visit our newest building and find out more about our outstanding solar program.

The sun always shines on Grow Community!

HouseSmarts finds smart homes at Grow

Intentionally designed for unintentional connections – that’s Grow Community.

Lou Manfredini (NBC’s Today Show, WGN Radio) and the crew of HouseSmarts visited Grow this past spring, interviewing residents and exploring what is now Washington’s largest solar community just a few steps from Winslow town center.

Manfredini liked what he found at Grow, praising the community for its modern design, neighborhood spirit, and forward-thinking renewable energy features.

“These types of ideas, we can place anywhere in the U.S.,” the host says.

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See Grow on HouseSmarts TV

Grow Community will be featured on HouseSmarts, the “reality show for real homeowners,” Aug. 1 on KONG-TV in the Seattle area.

The HouseSmarts crew and contractor/host Lou Manfredini (NBC’s Today Show, WGN Radio) visited Grow for a day this past spring and really liked what they saw.

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The popular 30-minute weekly home improvement program “answers the questions homeowners really want to know,” the producers say. “Nobody adds on a room in one weekend, or lets their neighbors decorate their living room. HouseSmarts follows the progress of real people and lessons learned.”

HouseSmarts’ Grow Community segment airs at 10 a.m. Aug. 1.

For information see www.housesmartstv.com, and you can find the KONG-TV programming guide here.