At the Grow Community we believe that our built environments are crucial to the health of our minds and bodies. This section is devoted to how we’ve tried to design the healthiest community for ourselves and our kids.

Is This The Most Sustainable Neighborhood In The U.S.? – Fast Company

Fast Company | November 13, 2013 | Adele Peters

A new neighborhood on Bainbridge Island, Washington, has all the aspects of a resilient community–like net zero homes, community gardens, and car sharing–built in from the beginning.

A new urban neighborhood on Bainbridge Island, Washington, is arguably the most resilient–and healthiest–in the entire United States. Grow Community is not the first place to have net zero energy homes, community gardens, carsharing, or any of its other features, but it’s the first community to have all of those features, by design, from its inception.

Each home in the new development, from apartments to single-family homes, can run entirely on solar power. The ultra-efficient buildings are insulated to save energy, and include heat pumps and heat recovery ventilators. Wood siding comes from local, sustainably managed forests. But green buildings are only a small part of the community’s design.

“The average footprint for food and transportation is three times the footprint of a home,” says Jonathan Davis, the architect who led the project. Both were considered as integral parts of the development. The location was carefully chosen to be a short walk or bike ride from the ferry to Seattle or nearby shops. Residents will have access to community bikes and a shared fleet of cars–the first car being a Nissan Leaf that plugs into its own dedicated solar panel. Those moving to the area bringing their own vehicles may want to consider getting a car or motorcycle shipping quote to help them figure out the cost of transporting their vehicles during their busy move.

The homes are bordered by community vegetable gardens and fruit trees, and residents will also have the chance to participate in a working farm within walking distance.

The design also aims to help neighbors actually meet each other. The site is divided up into “microhoods” that are grouped around a common yard, and each of the grouping is connected by a series of pathways. No one can drive home; the parking lot is deliberately remote so that people have to walk home, and have the chance to run into each other. Each home has a front porch, and the common yards have community gardens and other shared spaces for people to interact.

Right now, the development is partially completed–22 out of 24 single-family homes are underway or finished, and construction will begin shortly on two small apartment buildings. Eight homes are occupied. The new residents include the architect and his own family. “Someone recently said it must be like my own personal Sim City, and it is,” Davis says, as he watches his creation unfold.

The development is the first in the U.S. to meet the stringent requirements of the One Planet Living program. “It’s a really big-picture look at sustainability,” Davis says. “In a way, Grow Community provides an easy basis for everyone living there to reduce their environmental footprint.”

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.  Most homeowners today prefer to have their home interiors light and breezy with plenty of sunlight, rather than heavy and cluttered. Minimalistic and open space designs are increasingly being preferred, with interior designers like Helen Coulston too gravitating towards more simple yet elegant designs, not to mention sustainable ones, of course!  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 budget, 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.  At first, we were also considering secondary sources of power and heating such as propane—consulting with companies like Kelly Propane and Fuel, LLC made it seem like a viable option too.   But, in the end, solar energy seemed sufficient as well as cost-effective for the whole project.   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.

Backers see $60M Grow Community as prototype for going super green

Daily Journal of Commerce
May 20th, 2013

click here to read article

Sustainable Business: Washington state’s largest solar community tests the marketplace

Puget Sound Business Journal
May 10th, 2013

click here to read article

Congratulations Jonathan!

Grow Community Architect, Jonathan Davis of Davis Studio Architecture + Design received the 2013 AWB Environmental Excellence Award for Environmental Innovation from the Association of Washington Business for his work on Grow Community.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.