By Matt Hickman
After going on summer hiatus last month, I’m back with a noteworthy edition “Evergreen homes” — a monthly series of posts in which I break out the geographical bias and spotlight green residential building projects from my home state of Washington — that spotlights a sustainable community that’s well, grown, since I last wrote about it.
I first featured Grow Community — an enclave of net-zero energy residences located in Seattle’s bucolic bedroom community of Bainbridge Island — in July of 2011 after touring an unrelated modular show home designed by the project architect, Jonathan Davis of Davis Studio Architecture + Design, creators of pieceHomes, at the Dwell on Design conference in L.A.
At the time, all I had to share about the 8-acre “pedestrian-oriented, energy-efficient, multigenerational neighborhood” were early renderings and a few key highlights (Community composting facilities! P-Patches! Kayak storage! Minimal parking spaces!). Perhaps one of the more intriguing aspects of Grow — geared to be the largest solar-ready planned community in Washington, by the way — is the fact that it’s the first residential project in the U.S. to be endorsed by One Planet Living‘s Communities program, a rigorous, 10-tier certification program developed by U.K. nonprofit BioRegional Development Group and WWF International that focuses on the greenness of neighborhoods instead of individual homes.
This is Grow Community near downtown Winslow on Bainbridge Island in Washington. The first three model homes — Ocean, Everett, and Aria — are finished and work is moving forward for the next 24 homes and two 10-unit rowhouse apartments. The eight-acre project is the first residential One Planet Community in North America (issued by U.K. non-profit BioRegional). However, in addition to this recognition, the aim is net-zero homes and an entirely net-zero energy community by 2020.
Window into the New: Innovative Design Using Technology Shapes Grow Community on Bainbridge Island For Ultra-Cool Sustainable Living
Sustainability is a concept sprouting up everywhere, defining much of what is associated with today’s cutting edge culture. Shedding a stereotype of an idealistic grass-roots environmental movement, today the concept of sustainability is ultra-cool, hip and hot across age and gender groups, a driving force in sales and marketing, taking the lead in shaping modern design and influencing business—using state-of-the-art technology as a foremost ally.
Leading the way in the concept of attractive, affordable, practical solutions for sustainable living in the United States is the new Grow Community on Bainbridge Island, Washington taking root near the heart of the Island’s commercial center in Winslow located only 35 minutes by ferry, directly west across from Seattle in Puget Sound.
As a designer, and University of California Davis Design Department alumni, I am always on the lookout for new trends—especially in environmental design. So, when I stumbled upon Grow Community being built this summer during my initial visit to the Island, I must say, it was love at first sight! Warm colors and an array of interesting visuals drew my friend and me inside. Other passerby’s stopped in awe, generating a steady stream of pedestrian traffic with a positive vibe of satisfied intrigue…a collective sigh of relief was felt in the air of content excitement to see dreams and concepts actually being turned into a reality we could experience firsthand, and even purchase.
Grow team members Joie and Greg were interviewed by Nick Neal and Carolyn Frame on Real Estate Radio Northwest, a weekly show dedicated to “providing a forum for consumers to learn the truth of their financial life, which is mostly centered around their biggest investment, the home they live in.” Be sure to listen to the show segments by clicking the links below (give them a few seconds to load) as Greg and Joie talk about Grow Community and the family values, energy consciousness, and community living which the project is centered upon.
Segment 1: First Segment, Grow Community is a new development on Bainbridge Island focusing on building a neighborhood based on good old fashioned family values with energy efficiency and earth conscious living built in. They are accomplishing all of this with beautiful architecture and style. Greg Lotakis on the Project Management Team and Joie Olsen Director of Sales and Leasing joined us to talk about the project. In the first segment we get to know Greg and Joie and find out about the ideas behind GROW and ONE PLANET. (click here to listen to this segment)
A new Net-Zero residential test facility has been revealed this week by the National Institute of Science and Technology. This is great news for the advancement of sustainable housing in the United States, however they have an interesting take on it: the four bedroom, three bathroom house will be occupied by a “virtual” family.
“Helping scientists test the home’s systems and determine whether it’s truly “net-zero” is a virtual family of four. Energy use by the family will be simulated by computers that turn on and off various household appliances according to daily routines.”
The goal of the company is to eventually sell energy back into the grid, offsetting the electricity used by the family and making it a truly net-zero home.
“Building the home is just the first phase of the project. This fall, NIST scientists and engineers will begin a two-year long research project designed to put the net-zero home to the test. Computers will simulate everything from cell phone charging, to vacuum cleaner use, to the amount of water used to cook meals and bathe.”
While similar to the goals of Grow Community, there are several differences between these two projects. Grow Community, based on the ten guiding principles of One Planet Living developed by BioRegional, aims to address entire lifestyle impacts, with the goal of reducing overall ecological footprint. Grow Community is the first of its kind in the United States to start construction on sustainable homes using these One Planet Community development guidelines. From zero carbon homes and transportation strategies, programs that increase local food consumption and procurement policies that support a local green economy, the Grow Community is applying One Planet Living solutions to create a cost-effective, creative, inspirational and replicable community on the leading-edge of sustainable development practices.
Jonathan Davis, Owner of Davis Studio Architecture & Design, and Lead Designer for Grow Community, likes the goals of the NIST test facility, but thinks the plan has its own limitations.
“We’re doing something more real, for a lot cheaper.” says Davis, “They’re saying the house prices are about $600,000 for a house with state-of-the-art technology in it, not including the land. So we’re creating homes that are more affordable, with the same claim to Net-Zero energy usage, and we’re testing it with real people.”
“It’s great that someone wants to study something like that and get some useful information, but essentially we are doing it in the real world. And we’ll know in a year, just like they will, whether or not it will work.”
October 2nd 2012, 6-8pm
Grow Community will be hosting the Washington Environmental Council (WEC) on Tuesday evening, October 2nd. Our architect, Jonathan Davis, will be speaking along with support from Project Manager, Greg Lotakis. This event is intended to educate, inform and showcase the efforts of Grow Community and WEC in advancing clean water & green infrastructure solutions. The evening will consist of a home tour, presentation from the Grow team and updates on the work of WEC. Light refreshments will be provided.
October 1st 2012, Noon
The concept for Grow Community began with a question: If you could imagine the ideal place to live, what would it be like? We began to answer this question as we talked with friends and colleagues. But the idea for Grow really took shape when we reached out to the wider community and challenged people to think about how a neighborhood could be intentionally designed to improve their quality of life.
Over the last two years we have created a vision of a neighborhood where people of all generations and a diversity of economic means can live mindful of their impact on the planet. An intentional community where environmental, economic and social sustainability are equally valued and where all people can focus on creating abundance, in their relationships to others, to nature and to the community.
This vision is only just the beginning. We have designed a site plan for the first phase of the community and built three model homes to invite people to learn about the project, about the community concept and the sustainability goals that we have adopted through the One Planet Living program. These homes are prototypes, representing the various living opportunities that we plan to build throughout the project. We encourage you to stop by, walk through the community garden, experience the homes and tell us what you think.
Over the last three weeks we have had more than 850 visitors and we have learned an incredible amount of information, about the homes, the community design, the community programs. We are already incorporating this feedback in to the final house designs and will continue to improve the plans as we learn more from our visitors.
We are now getting ready to launch the next planning phase to create the Community Center and the other spaces that might be associated with it, including non-profit cultural and educational uses, a large open space and community garden.
We have only just begun, and the one thing that we are certain of is that this community will grow and evolve along with the people who contribute to it. Our vision, our plans, our designs are just the seed. We are looking forward to seeing what it grows into. Whether you are a friend, neighbor, visitor or potential resident, we hope you will join us in shaping this community.
Now Taking Reservations.
We are now taking reservations on homes in the first 3 phases. We are also taking back-up reservations, and creating a wait-list for rentals and homes in later phases. Regardless of your timeline If you are interested in living at Grow we encourage you to schedule an appointment soon. Please contact our Sales/Leasing Director, Joie Olsen at 206.452.6755.
Model Home Tour Schedule.
Our Model Homes will be open for tours on the weekends through September from 1-4pm (with extended hours for Labor Day weekend 10am-4pm) and by appointment. Contact us 206.452.6755 to schedule an appointment.
Grow Community Sustainability Tours.
Interested in a sustainability tour? Join us Thursday afternoons at 4pm for a sustainability tour with our Architect, Jonathan Davis (Davis Studio Architecture and Design) or a member of our development team. We can walk you through all of the sustainability features incorporated into the designs of the homes and the community at Grow. Please RSVP here or call 206.452.6755 to schedule this tour.
Share Your Thoughts With Us.
Already toured our Model Homes? Would you like to share your thoughts? We would appreciate your feedback. We have only just begun, with an expectation that this community will grow and evolve along with the people who contribute to it. Our vision, our plans, our designs are not yet complete. Whether you are a friend, neighbor or resident, we hope you will join us in shaping this community. Please share your thoughts, reactions, ideas about the home designs, the community, anything really.
[The following is part of our Five Minute Lifestyle series. Living at Grow Community makes getting out your car easy with all of your local amenities and transportation needs met within a quick 5 minute walk or bike ride away. Our Five Minute Lifestyle posts are dedicated to spotlighting nearby local businesses, transportation options for residents, community resources and the spectacular local attractions of Bainbridge Island and our surrounding community.]
Building a healthy community takes more than just building energy efficient homes. Solar panels on your home and energy efficient appliances are a great start, but it’s only the beginning. There’s a much deeper story to be told. Whole communities are built on the understanding that sustainability is defined not only by physical impacts to our environment, but also by the experience of support, equity and connection for the community’s members. One Planet communities address all aspects of sustainability, from the ecological to the economic and cultural impacts, with social well being and quality of life as a foundation of the concept.
One of the principles behind Grow Community’s One Planet sustainable development model is reducing carbon from transportation. With this principle in mind, we set out to provide several sustainable transportation options for residents of Grow Community to make it easier to live without a car, or with only one family vehicle. Grow Community is a 5 – 10 minute walk (or leisurely bike ride) from downtown Winslow and the ferry to Seattle and the location of the development was carefully chosen to support a lifestyle that isn’t dependent on a vehicle. All of your in-town amenities and transportation needs are close by, and, if you work in downtown Seattle, commuting is easy from Grow.
We know that residents will still need a vehicle on occasion, and there is room for each resident to have their own car. But what if you would prefer not to own a car, or need a second car only once in a while? That is when Grow Community’s car-sharing program for residents comes into play. For a small monthly fee residents can opt-in to our Nissan LEAF car-sharing program and book our electric car for trips around town or into Seattle. The car is charged by it’s own dedicated solar panel array and is a 100% emissions free transportation option for Grow Community residents. If interest is high, we will add a number of cars to the car share program, making this a choice that residents can depend on. For those that decide later down the line that they would like their own car but want an electric vehicle, it would be worth consulting with an electrician like those at aardvark-electric.com/areas-we-serve/marietta/ to see if they can have an EV charging station installed.
For the more casual outings, we have community bikes available for our residents. We are providing the bikes as a healthy option to easily get around Bainbridge Island, and we are hoping the bikes will help people explore the community. The bikes, made by Public Bikes, have already been popular with our own project team-a great way to get around town. We hope that no serious incidents occur, but if anyone was to have an accident there are a few things we’d recommend. The main thing would be to call an ambulance or paramedic if it was a serious accident. The second being the need to contact a lawyer if you had a bicycle accident, as you would need someone to represent you if you had a serious injury from someone else’s mistake. Hopefully, no-one will have an accident, but this is just to be on the safe side.
By providing a number of different options for Grow residents to choose low-carbon transportation options, we hope to reduce our overall carbon footprint, create healthy options for getting around town, and demonstrate how sustainable transportation choices can be easy on the pocketbook.
Scroll down to check out some pictures of our new Nissan LEAF and community bikes!
In the picture above you can see Grow Community’s new LEAF with it’s EV Station (on the right) and the solar array which is charging the station (the structure just to the left and behind the vehicle). In the background you can see our three solar powered model homes, now open for public tours. From left to right: The Aria, Ocean and Everett. Read more
ABOUT GROW COMMUNITY
Grow Community is an urban Net Zero neighborhood on Bainbridge Island, just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. With beautifully designed solar-powered homes, shared community gardens and clean transportation options, Grow allows all generations to enjoy a high-quality and healthy lifestyle.