This section categorizes our design choices at Grow, and how we’re using design to build a functional and beautiful built environment.

Building a Healthy Community from the Inside Out

Premier Builder Magazine
July/August 2013

Two years ago, the Asani/PHC team of architects, builders and developers set out to design a Net Zero energy home using local and sustainable materials, all with a construction budget under $150/square foot.  These homes are part of the new One Planet Community (one of 8 in the world) on Bainbridge Island – a Zero Carbon neighborhood of homes that is affordable to young families and baby boomers alike.

The new homes at Grow Community are not just net zero energy homes, they are part of a neighborhood where residents will be able to reduce their overall carbon footprint – that is, the impact from buildings, transportation, and food to name a few.  The homes are part of a One Planet Neighborhood, homes where it is easy, fun and affordable to live a lifestyle where our impact on the planet is a little lighter.

One Planet is a framework to guide design of Zero Carbon neighborhoods.  The program focuses not just on environmental impacts, but also on economic and social sustainability, creating communities where neighbors interact and where ecological footprints are reduced.  Grow Community has used the ten sustainability principles of the One Planet framework to create a neighborhood that is unlike any other in the United States.

The homes are beautifully designed, light filled spaces located in small clusters with the community, all surrounding vegetable gardens.  The neighborhood is made up of equal numbers of single-family homes for sale and multifamily homes for rent, providing different financial options for residents to live in the community.  The floorplans are designed for families, for couples, for aging in place, a mix that has resulted in a truly intergenerational community.

When we first started to design the Grow home, we weren’t sure if we could meet the net zero challenge with the given budge, but with a little determination and a dedicated team, we’ve shown it can be done.  Each home and multifamily building is designed as a Net Zero home – the solar panels on the roof are enough to provide all the power needed throughout the year.  The cost of construction of each of the homes is both reasonable and replicable.

The One Planet framework was used to balance design and material choices against each of the sustainability principles.  We designed an energy efficient building envelope, using local and sustainable materials wherever possible, and choose finishes that would ultimately create a comfortable and healthy home.

Health and Happiness is the foremost One Planet principle driving design decisions both for the individual homes and for the community as a whole.  Each house is built using the highest quality materials to create a healthy indoor living environment, including:

•    Marvin Integrity word/fiberglass windows avoid the use of PVC in the homes;
•    Cork or local sustainably harvested wood floors with non-toxic finishes create local and healthy flooring options;
•    Silent and highly efficient mini-split heat pumps to maintain comfortable temperatures;
•    Cabinets with no added formaldehyde, recycled content countertops and induction cooktops for sustainable and well-appointed kitchens; and
•    Optional whole house water filters.

The community itself is designed around numerous vegetable gardens, with native plants and vegetation throughout to create natural and inviting places for children and adults to enjoy.  The neighborhood is located just a short walk from urban amenities, enabling residents to walk or ride, incorporating exercise into their daily lives.  A community center will provide a space for yoga classes, cooking demonstrations, and community events.

It is our home that this One Planet neighborhood will change the way we approach urban design.  We created the project to demonstrate how developers might design projects that have a net positive impact, not only on the environment, but on the way people live, creating healthier and more satisfying lifestyles in urban areas.  The Grow Community homes are not just good for the environment, they are a place for people to live healthy and affordable lives, to connect with their neighbors, their community and nature.
Visit www.growbainbridge.com

Grow Community modifies development plans – BAINBRIDGE ISLAND REVIEW

By RICHARD D. OXLEY
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer

August 3, 2013 · Updated 10:41 AM

Over the past year, the island has watched the green living-oriented Grow Community sprout up on its small corner in Winslow.

With Phase II of the development on the horizon, Grow officials are looking to take the neighborhood in a whole new direction than previously expected.

“Going forward we know we can’t build the same kinds of homes that we built in Phase I,” Marja Preston with Asani Development told a crowd gathered at the Bainbridge Performing Arts Center Monday evening.

“Our goal for this project is to create a model for intergenerational living,” she said.

Island architect Jim Cutler explained the significant changes to the project; mainly, that while Grow will continue to be Earth- and community friendly, it will come in a much tighter package.

“All the things that were endemic in the first phase will be in the second phase, but with more density,” Cutler said.

The crowd listened intently to Cutler as he explained how he designed 87 dwellings to fit on five acres.

“I’m going to show you a really dense project,” Cutler told the crowd as he stood in front of a site plan for Phase II.

Project officials presented their latest vision of the neighborhood this week at a meeting required under the city’s permitting process
because the project has changed since it was originally proposed. The changes drew a crowd of more than 70 islanders to the lobby of the Bainbridge Performing Arts Center.

It was as much of an informative gathering as it was a sales pitch to the community.

“This project takes this to a whole new level,” said City planner Heather Beckman.

“Typically we have these meetings at city hall and there are no refreshments, and there isn’t this much of a turnout,” she said.

Islanders were welcomed to the event with hors d’oeuvre and lemonade before hearing Cutler’s presentation.

Cutler, of Bainbridge-based Cutler Anderson Architects, walked through a series of slides showcasing the new vision for the development that attaches many of the dwellings, once scattered across the property.

“The old plan, it was like someone took dice and threw them on the ground,” Cutler said. “We’ve gone to attached dwellings that maximize green area. We’ve ended up with, out of five acres, (roughly) three acres that are green space.”

Cutler said he designed the community to be multigenerational, and geared toward community interaction, without sacrificing privacy.

Phase II of the Grow Community will include two apartment buildings off Wyatt Way, two rows of attached townhouses, and single-family buildings.

Between the structures will be two courtyards and a 2,500-square-foot community center.

The community center will house a multipurpose room, meeting room, kitchen and a fireplace on both the inside and outside.

Bordering the property to the south near Shepard Drive will be a 5,000-square-foot commercial building.

Cutler could not comment on what the commercial structure will ultimately be used for, but officials hope that a small school or child-oriented organization will set up shop there.

Phase II will continue to incorporate the aspects seen in Phase I, such as solar panels on the roofs, the ability to capture rainwater, and shared electric cars and bicycles.

Residents’ cars, however, will play a larger role in Phase II than in Phase I.

Parking has been planned for the development that will border the site, though 43 homes will have private garages. Single-family residences will have two-car garages.

Cutler explained his vision for cars in the Grow Community.

“You might notice we are not showing a lot of parking,” he said. “If we build slightly deeper foundations we can build parking underneath (the buildings), so cars are

not going to be very visible. We are basically putting all cars underneath.”

“I don’t think we are promoting car use; we are making sure that cars are not part of your daily life visually,” he added, noting that people need to use a car from time to time, so he designed parking into Grow, with the attitude that the community will be primarily pedestrian
oriented.

“We convince, to some degree, our clients that having a car in your daily experience is not necessarily positive,” Cutler said.

Gardens will also be a primary focus of the new development.

“Probably what’s endemic in almost every culture in the world is gardening. And I don’t mean flower beds or vegetable gardens. I mean a space where you can extend your dwelling, and your living, outside in privacy,” Cutler said. “So you can connect with living systems outside in a private way.”

Apartments will include wall gardens, and many homes will include patio spaces.

A total of 40 residences in Phase II will be wheelchair accessible, and it will be possible to incorporate an elevator in some of the spaces.

Officials expect the Grow residences to be a mixture of rentals, condominiums and privately owned lots.

It is likely that it won’t take long to fill the homes.

“I have had reservations for a product people haven’t even seen for over a year,” said Joie Olson with Asani.

“We hope by the end of 2015 to be into the first half of the five acres, and have people moved in,” she said.

Olson noted that the site will be developed incrementally over time so that the company can make changes in the future if needed.

Contact Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer Richard D. Oxley at roxley@bainbridgereview.com or (206) 842-6613.

Going solar at Grow is easier than you think

Choosing the solar option.
Grow is a One Planet Community with a goal to achieve Net Zero Carbon from buildings by 2020. To achieve this we have designed each house to be powered entirely by solar. Each homeowner can choose to add the solar option at the time their house is constructed or at a later date. The system has been designed to provide all the power you will need for your house, reducing not only your carbon footprint, but reducing the money you spend on power over time.
Solar Package.
All homes at Grow are solar-ready and are wired for easy installation of solar panels at any time. Grow is able to provide a solar package at an incredible price because we install a large volume of panels throughout the project. We have negotiated a price for solar with A&R Solar based on bulk installation. This price includes installation, permitting, Manufactured in Washington photovoltaic panels and micro-inverters, as well as a racking system supplied by a Washington-based company.
Solar Financing.
Home buyers interested in financing their solar array have the option of unsecured solar loans through Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union or Umpqua Bank. Interest rates range from 4.5%-7.99%. There are no loan fees or closing costs and preliminary approval often occurs in 24 hours or less. The annual incentives available in Washington State, for Washington-made equipment can be applied to cover much of the principal and interest on the loan.
The current federal tax credit, the extension of the sales tax exemption, as well as the annual incentives available from Washington State, make solar an easy financial choice. We encourage you to choose the solar option and will assist you in making this possible.

 

Grow Community homes are 5-Star Built Green!

We are very excited to announce that Grow Community homes have achieved 5-Star Built Green status, the highest rating for Built Green certification. Built Green is designed to help homebuyers find quality, affordable homes that offer opportunities to protect the health of their families and the Northwest environment. This is a great step forward in our efforts to create cost-effective, energy efficient One Planet homes on the cutting-edge of today’s sustainable development practices.

Click here to read Built Green’s case study on Grow Community.

NW Green Home Tour

Saturday, April 27th 2013, 11am-5pm
Grow Model Homes  |  428 Grow Avenue NW, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Come visit our Built Green 5-Star Homes on April 27th! Grow Community will be one of the stops on the NW Green Home Tour. Co-produced by Northwest Eco Building Guild Seattle Chapter and Built Green this tour is a FREE spring event. This will be the 3rd Annual NW Green Home Tour for Seattle, Bainbridge Island + Eastside.

 

To learn more about the tour go to the NW Eco Building Guild website.

 

It Takes A Village: Cultivating Community Through Collaboration

We’d like you to meet Scott McGowan, One Planet Champion for our 7th One Planet Principle, Local and Sustainable Food.  We asked him why he got involved with Grow and to share his thoughts on the One Planet program.  Here is his response.

I decided to get involved in the Grow project after meeting Jonathan Davis.  He is a long time family friend of my wife, Haripurkh Khalsa , and previous student of her father Guru Singh.  Jonathan explained the One Planet concept and I was thrilled.  The core of The One Planet concept is exactly how I try to live my life, and exactly where we need to be striving towards with all development.   I have an electric truck, electric tools and don’t use any pesticides or harmful chemicals in my work.  I have spent the last 10-15 years planning and working on community gardens and I could not believe that a private development actually could be so focused on growing food as a means to build and create community!

The network of community gardens will create a better place for the residents by (1) reducing the amount of trips they need to take to the grocery store, 2) eating and living healthier lifestyles 3) building strong friendships and community 4) donating fresh foods to local food banks 5) educating residents and the broader Bainbridge community about growing food and building sustainable community through modeling and 6) providing fun community events in the beautiful outdoor garden spaces.

I believe that the network of community Gardens built into the overall design of the Grow Community is the key piece that can make this innovative concept work.  Community gardens/farms take teamwork and community involvement to run.  They will serve to connect neighbors in Grow with each other, and with the surrounding community.

The shared goal for Grow is to provide an important educational opportunity for children and creating future advocates for community gardens.

A few weeks ago Scott engaged local elementary students from Madrona School in the first harvest of our welcome garden. The effort was part of an educational program in local and organic foods. The kids harvested, learnt to cook with some of the vegetables, and provided some to the local food kitchen at Helpline House on Bainbridge.

For more about Scott’s organization Alleycat Acres, click here.

Alleycat Acres

By Scott McGowan

Three years ago, I participated in my first PARK(ing) Day – an annual, open sourced global event in which people from all walks of life temporarily transform parking spaces into public places.

That day forever changed the way I view how space is utilized in an urban setting. Over the course of the weeks following PARK(ing) Day, I set off to find an answer to the question: How can vacant spaces be used to bridge communities together?

That answer? Alleycat Acres.

Alleycat Acres was born during winter 2010, under the idea to (re)connect people, produce and place through building a network of neighborhood run farms on underutilized urban space.

By early 2011, twelve dedicated, diverse strangers came together to turn this idea into a reality. Together, we worked creatively to build the first farm in Beacon Hill, on a plot of land donated by a retired school teacher. That same summer, we broke ground on a 2nd farm in the Central District; and this year we celebrated our 2 year birthday by breaking ground on a 3rd farm, also in the Central District.

Our farms serve as community meeting grounds – allowing places for people who’d never normally meet to do just that — all while growing a healthier future.  In the two years we’ve been growing, there’s been over 3,000 pounds of food harvested from all of the farms by the hands of more than 1,000 newly made friends – many of whom never have stepped foot on a farm or in a garden. All that produce that was grown? It went right back to everyone who helped it grow, along with one of three neighborhood based food banks that are close to each farm which is delivered by bicycle.

At the heart of our organization is the belief that  food is more than what we eat. To all of us,  it’s a medium through which we can forge intimate, meaningful relationships between people and place. Farming is a medium that reconnects us, both mentally and physically, to our surroundings. Our entire work is based on the collective belief that neighborhood powered urban food systems are key in creating healthy people and healthy places.

With every carrot we harvest, the promise of a better future is visible. Together, as we’ve learned, we can grow forth.

Check out more from Scott McGowan here at the Alleycat Acres Website and on Facebook, as well as his previous blog post on the Grow Blog here.

Grow Solar Part 2: Solar Power and Energy Efficiency

Click here for Part 1

So how can solar cover all our energy needs?

Well, traditionally it wouldn’t. Most houses you see around you draw more energy than solar panels could provide.

In our case, the homes of Grow Community have been designed from the ground up with solar in mind. This includes electric wiring specifically designed for easy installation of solar panels on the roof. If you take advantage of the solar option, the panels will be enough to meet the energy demand of your life due to the energy efficiency designed into every square inch of the house. You can click here to look at the options available to add onto it if so desired.

So just how energy efficient are these homes? Well, until we get people living in the homes full time we won’t know this exactly, but we’re happy to talk about how they have been designed. Plus having this option may give people some flexibility when they learn more about their utility options. Here are some of the features that make these homes as efficient as possible:

Heat pump: The ductless minisplit Greensboro heat pump by mitsubishi in each home is twice as efficient as a gas or electric water heater. There are many different types of water heaters available on the market, from electric to tankless, you have an array of options when obtaining a water heater for your home. Whether you’re moving to a new home, or just want to have your heater replaced, you can look online on sites similar to Water Heater Reviews and check out their vast catalog of water heaters. You can visit homepage for more information.

Ventilation system: Every home in Grow Community is outfitted with a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), which provides a great compliment to our ductless mini split heat pump by keeping the temperature range consistent within the home and allowing our heating system to work less and more efficiently. (This is very cool technology, and worth it’s own blog post in the future)

Lights: Most of the lights use high-efficiency LEDs, which are many times more efficient than conventional light bulbs. Almost all of our lights are LEDs and we’re pushing to have a 100% LED lit home in the future.

Windows: We use high quality energy-efficient windows, which are generally where houses lose a majority of their heat.

Appliances: All of the appliances in our homes meet or beat current energy star performance requirements.

Double Walls and Insulation: Walls in each home are twice as thick as standard walls, and are doubly insulated, reducing heat energy waste through the sides of your house.

All these energy-efficiency improvements greatly reduce the amount of power your home requires (saving 2-3 tons of coal per year), enabling the power created by solar panels to cover the rest.

Check out part 3, where we describe the incentives available to homeowners to help cover the costs of installation.

Is Johnny Cash moving to Grow Avenue?

We’ve been getting a lot of questions at the GROW site regarding the new homes being built along Grow Avenue. Mostly, people seem interested in the progress on the site, when the homes are going to be ready for touring, and why they appear to be being painted black and if we plan on leaving them like that. Our Project Manager, Greg Lotakis, laughed and said he thought it looked like Johnny Cash – the infamous ‘Man in Black’ – was moving to the Grow Community.

You might be a little disappointed to learn that the late, great Johnny Cash is not moving to Bainbridge Island. You will, however, be happy to learn that we aren’t planning on building black homes along Grow Avenue, but are instead, in the process of building some of the most energy efficient homes in North America.

What you’re seeing going up on the first model home at the Grow Community is a weather resistant barrier system called Enviro-Dri, created by Tremco. We chose Enviro-Dri, as opposed to more familiar home sheaths like Tyvec, because the product is top in its class for weather resistant barriers and works for the life of your home to remove moisture and fight molds and mildew, an important aspect to home building in the Pacific Northwest.

Each of the three model homes will be constructed using slightly different wall systems and materials.  We will be testing and monitoring each combination for effectiveness and cost efficiency.  The next home will be coated with a similar product called StoGuard Gold Coat.

As we learn more through the application of each of these different products, we will be posting our thoughts and inviting your feedback.  Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news and information on the Grow Community project.

The Grow Team.