The Grow Community is built to make living a carbon free lifestyle easy and obtainable. This section of our blog is dedicated to all things energy and meant to catalog our pursuit of a carbon free lifestyle and the steps we are taking to achieve that goal.

Final Phase of Grow Community Update

Grow Mentioned in NY Times Article: Developers Build More Net Zero Homes as Climate Concerns Grow

Grow Community is mentioned in the following article published in the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/16/business/net-zero-homes.html

 

Energy-Efficient Isn’t Enough, So Homes Go ‘Net Zero’

Demand for residences that produce as much energy as they consume is being spurred by climate concerns, consumer appetite and more affordable solar technology.

Jan and Julie Sehrt in a model home at the Catskill Project, a “net zero” development in Livingston Manor, N.Y.
Arden Wray for The New York Times

In the three years that Nicole Rae and Brian Mastenbrook lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, they grew increasingly concerned about California’s wildfires. The skies would turn orange, ash would settle on plants and porch railings, and Ms. Rae, a 30-year-old teacher who has asthma, would have trouble breathing.

So in May, she and Mr. Mastenbrook, a 37-year-old tech worker, sold their home and moved to Ann Arbor, Mich. Mr. Mastenbrook has family in Michigan, and officials in Ann Arbor were taking steps to lower the city’s carbon footprint.

They admired plans for a “net zero” community there, Veridian at County Farm, to be filled with solar-powered, all-electric homes that would be free of the fossil fuels whose greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to climate change.

Matthew Grocoff, left, a developer of a net zero community in Ann Arbor, Mich., with Lori and Mitch Hall, who are investing in the development and buying a home there.
Sylvia Jarrus for The New York Times

“If those homes were built and ready to buy today,” Ms. Rae said, “we already would have purchased one.”

The couple’s experience as climate refugees may be dramatic, but across the country, more home buyers are seeking net zero residences, so called because they produce as much energy as they consume and, because they typically achieve this via solar power, do not add carbon to the atmosphere. And developers are increasingly stepping up to meet the demand.

Data on net zero housing is scarce, but a report from the nonprofit group Team Zero tallies about 24,500 homes in the United States that achieve “zero energy” performance and estimates that the actual number “is considerably larger.” The Department of Energy has certified 8,656 as “net zero ready,” meaning they could reach zero energy with the addition of solar.

The numbers are expected to grow, spurred not only by consumer appetite but also by building code updates, more affordable solar technology, a growing familiarity with once-exotic appliances like induction stoves and the “electrify everything” movement. Now investors are increasingly steering money toward sustainable real estate, making it easier for developers to raise money for housing that addresses climate concerns.

And although the net zero movement is sometimes associated with homes for the affluent, it is also resulting in housing for those at the other end of the income spectrum, who stand to benefit from lower energy bills.

“The housing industry is being disrupted the way the auto industry was,” said Aaron Smith, chief executive of the nonprofit Energy & Environmental Building Alliance, referring to the popularity of electric cars and pledges by manufacturers to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles.

A rendering of  Veridian at County Farm, the development in Ann Arbor.
Union Studio / Renderings by McLennan Design

But even as the climate crisis has highlighted the need for sustainable construction, challenges remain. The building industry has resisted code changes. The surge in demand for single-family homes spurred by the pandemic may weaken the urgency for change because conventional houses are finding ready buyers these days.

Many consumers are still more interested in granite kitchen counters and other cosmetic details than in electric heat pumps, but surveys indicate that millennials are likely to bring their concerns about the environment to their home-buying decisions, said Sara Gutterman, chief executive of Green Builder Media, which has conducted surveys of this demographic group.

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Jan Sehrt, 37, and his wife, Julie, 39, both Google workers with a three-bedroom condominium in Brooklyn, spent the better part of the pandemic searching for a second home where they could enjoy nature with their two daughters.

After scouring more than 1,000 listings online, the Sehrts settled on a solar-powered, all-electric house in the Catskill Project, a net zero development in the upstate New York hamlet of Livingston Manor. Their home — which will cost about $1 million and is expected to be completed next fall — will be one of 11 single-family residences designed to maximize solar power and prevent energy loss through airtight building envelopes.

The Catskill Project in Livingston Manor will have 11 single-family residences.
Arden Wray for The New York Times
The homes there will maximize solar power and prevent energy loss with airtight building envelopes.
Arden Wray for The New York Times

“We stepped into the model home, and they said, ‘These are triple-pane windows,’” said Mr. Sehrt, who was familiar with green building from his childhood in Germany. “After that it was just one win after another.”

There is widespread agreement that residential buildings are crucial to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels. Buildings, including their construction, account for about 40 percent of carbon emissions, with housing responsible for about half that. Retrofitting inefficient structures is the biggest challenge, but building sustainable homes is also important.

For decades, homeowners experimented with solar panels and off-the-grid houses. Then pioneering developments began cropping up. Grow Community, on Washington State’s Bainbridge Island, introduced its first solar-powered homes in 2012; its third and final phase of development is about to get underway.

Marja Williams, a development consultant who helped guide Grow in its early years and has lived there since 2014, said her monthly utility bill was just $7.97 — the basic service fee. Her house produces more energy than it uses, with the utility funneling off excess power in summer and crediting her account in winter when the solar arrays are less productive. A Grow home that originally cost about $480,000 sold recently for nearly double that, she said.

Builders such as Mandalay Homes and Thrive Home Builders have specialized in homes with ultra-efficient energy use. Others are experimenting with net zero construction.

Crown Pointe Estates recently introduced what may be the most upscale version: the “zero series” homes at the company’s MariSol Malibu development in Ventura County, Calif. The first residence, more than 14,000 square feet, is on the market for $32 million.

Brookfield Asset Management and Dacra have joined forces with Tesla on 11 homes under construction in Brookfield’s Easton Park in Austin, Texas. The homes will look identical to the other single-family houses in the development except for their solar roof tiles.

Tesla is supplying solar roof tiles and batteries for 11 homes in a development in Austin, Texas.
Brookfield Residential

Ranging from $384,000 to $681,000, they cost about 10 percent more than neighboring homes but are expected to generate and store all the energy residents need, freeing them from energy bills and vulnerability to blackouts.

About 1,400 people expressed interest in the 11 homes, said Brian Kingston, chief executive of Brookfield’s real estate group, who interpreted that as “proof of concept.” The development team plans to build 200 more like them.

Low-rise, single-family homes are not the only kind of net zero housing in the works: Multifamily housing contains the majority of net zero units in the United States. Sustainable Living Innovations, a Seattle tech company, is building a 15-story, 112-unit apartment tower with factory-made panels preloaded with plumbing, electrical wiring and mechanical systems.

A prefabricated approach is being used on a much smaller scale elsewhere in Seattle: The Block Project is building micro solar homes for the homeless.

Block Project volunteers wrapping a new house in Seattle in a weather barrier before the installation of siding.
Bernard Troyer

The effort, by the nonprofit group Facing Homelessness, crafts panels in a workshop and then assembles them in the yards of homeowners who have agreed to turn over part of their property to a 230-square-foot residence for someone in need. So far, 11 of these homes, which cost about $75,000 to build, are occupied, and more are in the works, said Bernard Troyer, project manager at Facing Homelessness.

Veridian, the Ann Arbor project, aims for a mix of income levels on its 14-acre site. Avalon Housing, a nonprofit provider of affordable housing, will construct nine buildings containing 50 apartments on a portion of the site.

The 110 units of market-rate housing, to be developed by Thrive Collaborative (which is unrelated to Thrive Home Builders), will range from $200,000 apartments to $900,000 single-family homes. Work on the site is expected to begin this fall, and the market-rate homes should be completed in 2023, said Matthew Grocoff, Thrive’s founder.

In addition to securing financing from mission-driven funds, Mr. Grocoff has attracted local investors, among them Mitch and Lori Hall. Retirees with three grown children, the Halls have decided not only to buy a townhouse at Veridian but to become the largest equity partner in the project.

“It’s the way we need to move as a planet and a country,” Ms. Hall said. “Hopefully, 30 years from now, it won’t be so unusual.”

 

 

Grow Featured in Two Recent Publications

Grow Community has been featured in two recent publications.  The first Pre-Fab Living by Avi Friedman, published by Thames and Hudson, p68 – Room to Grow.  The other Good Energy by Jared Green, published by Princeton Architectural Press, p74.  

Grow featured in Departures Magazine

“The truly health-obsessed don’t just want to eat right and get some exercise. They want to live in a new kind of “wellness community.”  Grow Community was recently featured in Departures Magazine. The Guru Next Door looks at our One Planet Living model where “sustainability and well-being are inextricably linked.”

Read article here

Now available: Juniper homes entering the market

Grow Community is pleased to announce 2- and 3-bedroom condominium units in the Juniper building are now entering the market for the first time.

Each unit offers the full range of quality construction, fine appointments and planet-friendly, energy-saving features buyers have come to expect from Washington’s largest planned-solar community.

These beautifully designed, ultra-efficient homes boast Bosch appliance packages, quartz counters, floor-to-ceiling windows, all-home circulation and heat recovery, and efficient low-flow fixtures.

Rooftop solar offsets utility costs and provides a refund to the homeowner each year.

All Juniper homes feature convenient, single-level living with bedrooms and active spaces on one level. Ground-floor garden homes open onto secluded outdoor patios, while second- and third-floor units offer spacious private decks.

A semi-private elevator provides access from underground parking and storage directly to your entryway.

The first three units are now open and available for showing:

Juniper Unit 104: A corner unit facing south onto the Grove, this 1,477 sf. home offers three bedrooms, 1.75 baths and an open, spacious living/dining area. An expansive private patio offers an additional 522 sf. of outdoor living, opening directly onto a community greenway. See photos and floorplan here.

Juniper Unit 201: This popular layout includes 2 bedrooms and 1.75 baths over 1,468 sf. of comfortable living space. A covered deck adds 98 sf. of year-round outdoor living with generous south views for family and guests. See photos and floorplan here.

Juniper Unit 303: Enjoy a birds-eye view of the Grove from the master suite of this 2-bedroom, 1,454 sf. unit. An open living/dining layout, ample walk-thru closet and 1.75 baths complement the many fine features.  See photos and floorplan here.

More available units will be announced soon as they enter the market. Contact Joie Olsen at 206.452.6755 and visit Grow Community and the Juniper homes today.

Click here for more information on these homes.

6 Reasons to Live at Grow Community

Grow Community offers a simpler, more intentional lifestyle where you can be mindful of your impact on the environment while focusing on what matters to you most. The nearby shops, restaurants and other amenities of Winslow town center offer convenient “5-minute living.” And with inviting gardens, parks and green spaces, Grow Community makes connections happen: neighbor to neighbor, you to the planet.

1.The Environment

Enjoy the quiet company of woodland trees and an orchard right outside your doors in the Grove; stroll the sprawling central green that gives the Park neighborhood its name. Altogether, sixty percent of these neighborhoods are dedicated to peaceful, inviting natural spaces. Parking is underground, reducing impervious surfaces and putting cars out of sight (where they belong).

 

2.One Planet Living

Our neighborhoods are designed to One Planet principles: ultra-energy-efficient homes, goals for zero emissions and waste, sustainable materials, locally grown food, resource conservation, wildlife habitat and edible landscaping, culture, happiness and health. Add them up and you have a new way to live, focused on a positive future for yourself and your world.

 

3.Solar Power 

Grow Community is the largest solar community in Washington, with every single-family home and duplex powered by photovoltaics, and rooftop solar on many townhomes and condominiums. Solar arrays are offered as a buyer’s option on every home including multifamily. And going solar has never been simpler. With today’s strong financial incentives, your solar array will keep your power bill low and even put money in your pocket, just for doing your part for a cleaner planet.

 

4.5-Minute Lifestyle

Everything your family needs for a healthy, happy lifestyle is within easy distance of Grow Community. Local merchants and grocers, the library, fine cafes and coffee shops, theaters and museums, parks, health clinics and schools … you can reach it all without ever getting behind the wheel.  We call it the “5-minute lifestyle,” and it’s just one of the features that makes Grow such an attractive choice for homebuyers seeking a simpler way of living.

 

5.Community Connections

Harvest your tomatoes and take the extras next door. Read a book under a tree and see who stops to say, “Oh, you’ll love the ending!” Or just take a quiet stroll down a neighborhood path and bump into someone new. Grow Community is designed to promote serendipity, the unexpected meeting, the little connections from which lifelong friendships spring. Grow a community together, and get as involved as much (or as little) as you want.

6.For All Ages

The neighborhoods at Grow have intergenerational living at their heart – because a true community should be as welcoming to a 73-year-old as it is to a 3-year-old. In the Grove and the Park neighborhoods, 60 percent of the homes offer single-level living with elevator access to front entries, while the community spaces invite interaction and sharing between generations year-round. And accessibility extends beyond the neighborhood. You’re just a few minutes from downtown amenities like shops, restaurants and theaters – even ice cream.

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We still have room for you in our FINAL HOMES…

Great opportunities to purchase and rent our FINAL HOMES are available in the Grove & Park neighborhoods. Beautifully designed, ultra-efficient 2 bedroom solar ready homes set a new standard for healthy, sustainable living.

Only three 2-bedroom homes remain to purchase in the Tsuga and just 6 in the Sage building.

We also have two homes that have become available to rent in our Juniper building.

Please contact our sales & leasing team for more details and to set up an appointment to tour our available homes: 206.452.6755 live@growbainbridge.com

We’re leading the nation in Green Power

The US Environmental Protection Agency recently honored the City of Bainbridge Island with its Green Power of the Year Award – and Grow Community helped earn the honor.

In his report to the community, City Manager Doug Schulze cited Grow Community’s leadership.

“Adjacent to one of Bainbridge’s three neighborhood centers is Grow Community, one of the first North American communities built on the One Planet principles,” Schulze writes. “These all-electric homes have the option of installing enough PV to meet almost all of their homes’ energy demands. The homes, available for sale or rent, are populated as quickly as they are built.”

Kudos to Bainbridge Island for this great national award! Read the City Manager’s report on our national leadership in Green Power below.

How far we have grown.

With just three buildings to go, and construction paused for the winter, let’s pause ourselves to appreciate how far Grow Community has come.

This photo puts it all in perspective – three distinctive neighborhoods, tasteful, energy-efficient homes clustered around shared green spaces, a new community center, and row upon row (upon row!) of solar panels, soaking up the sun to help power Washington’s largest planned solar community.

What a great community to be a part of! And what a great vantage to take it all in.

Photo courtesy of Kelvin Hughes

New solar array powers community center

Grow Community boosted its standing as Washington state’s largest planned solar community this week with another new photovoltaic array – this time, for the new community center.

A 17-module, 5.1-kilowatt array went up atop the bike shelter behind the community building, centerpiece of the Park neighborhood.

The south-facing array takes advantage of excellent solar exposure through the day, turning the bike shelter roof into productive solar garden to help power activities at the community center.

The system also supports the local solar industry, using certified Made In Washington solar panels by iTek Energy of Bellingham.

Installation is by A&R Solar of Seattle, who’ve completed many of the residential arrays found throughout Grow’s three solar-powered neighborhoods.

A real sense of “neighborliness” in a community designed to foster closeness, connection and cooperation.

Amelia Parker had been following the work of Bioregional and its One Planet Living initiative for years, since the development of London’s famous BedZED zero-carbon community in 2002.

When she learned that there was another One Planet Community just a few miles away on Bainbridge Island – she was living in Bellevue at the time – she decided to visit and see environmentally friendly development firsthand.

She and her spouse found Grow Community. After speaking with residents, they made their move – to the Juniper building in the new Grove neighborhood.

It’s a real turn toward sustainability from her last home, a 1912 Craftsman bungalow. It was beautiful and twice the size of her current home, she says, but trying to modernize and maintain it was exhausting and expensive. Then there were the utility bills, which were through the roof. Despite making sure she was using cheap light companies, Amelia found that her bills were stacking up. Being such an old house, heating in particular was ver expensive.

“It’s lovely to be in a place where things simply work,” Amelia says of Grow Community, ” and if they don’t, maintenance is on it quickly, where good design minimizes utility bills – large, well-insulated windows make the space feel expansive and reduces the need for lighting – and makes caring for the space simple, so that time can be spent on other things.”

At Grow, she has found a simpler lifestyle, one that de-emphasizes the need for a car, with easy connections to local shops and merchants, and even travel hubs like the ferry system and regional rail.

“For the most part, I can walk to anything I need, including the ferry terminal,” she says. “My car is coming up on 193,000 miles, and I drive so little that I’m in no hurry to replace it. My spouse occasionally needs to travel to Vancouver for business meetings: before, he would have to drive to Everett to catch a train. Now he takes the ferry across and walks to King Street Station. Not having to deal with traffic does a great deal for our mental health!”

She also finds a real sense of “neighborliness” in a community designed to foster closeness, connection and cooperation.

“Last weekend I was out at the observatory with my next-door neighbors, after a thank-you dinner for looking after their cat while they were on holiday,” she says. “We will text one another: ‘I’m going to Silverdale, do you need anything?’ ‘I’ve got too much lettuce: can I bring you some?'”

She adds: “Seeing people from the yoga studio means stopping and chatting in the aisles of the grocery store. I lived in my previous home for 13 years and really didn’t have that sort of relationship with my neighbours; I’ve been here almost 18 months, and it’s very different.”

Does she recommend Grow Community?

“Yes, absolutely.”