The Grow Community is built on the Ten Principles of One Planet Living. This section is dedicated to our pursuit of the One Planet ideal and how we’re making that happen at the Grow Community site on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

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.

Grow Community featured in Dwell

If it wasn’t a challenge, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

That’s the conclusion of Dwell magazine, which spent time at Grow Community recently and liked what they saw.
Grow is currently featured at Dwell.com, the online portal that bills itself “At home in the modern world.”

“Who said making a better world would be easy?” the magazine says. “Just ask the cast of characters involved in Grow Community, a development on Washington’s Bainbridge Island that was designed with the ambitious goal of encouraging social interaction while achieving net-zero energy status. Building for the future, they’ve learned, is a constant work in progress.”

Read this great feature online at www.dwell.com.

Construction Update: As Thanksgiving Approaches…

With Thanksgiving almost here, we’re grateful for great new neighbors in the Grove and great progress throughout the Grow Community project.

All Woodland Homes are now complete and residents moved in, with only small punch-list items left to do. The Tsuga building is now partially occupied, with the remaining units ready for move-in this month. The ‘Tall and Skinny’ home will be wrapping up as well (ask about this very unique unit at our model home).

Landscaping in “The Knuckle” area west of the Woodland homes will begin this month, with connecting paths between the Village and Grove neighborhoods to be open by the end of the year.

In our third and final neighborhood, the Park, the Lilac and Sage are both progressing very well – both will have roofs on before the end of November.

Community Center framing will also be done before the calendar turns. Our goal is to get this building “dried in,” after which we’ll focus on community-supported decisions for the finish work.

Finally, the Trillium and Meadow Homes are both in varied stages of permitting. We hope to start these as soon as possible.

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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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A 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, more mindful way of living.

You’ll be amazed by all that’s waiting for you, just beyond your doorstep.
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Tread lightly on the earth, live healthy at Grow Community

When we set out to design the most sustainable, future-friendly community possible, we knew we were building more than homes. We were creating a whole new way of living, and a model for the world.

We started with the principles of One Planet Living – promoting sustainable, healthy lifestyles through low-impact construction and high-quality materials. Culture, community, equity and economy were our guiding principles, health and happiness our end product.

We haven’t backed down from the challenge. Homes in our first two neighborhoods, the Village and the Grove, have earned national and international acclaim for their thoughtful design and construction. Each neighborhood is designed around vegetable gardens, fruit groves or open spaces, with native plants and vegetation creating natural and inviting places for children and adults to enjoy.

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Grow offers a “five minute lifestyle” where residents can walk/ride/roll to local amenities and urban attractions in Winslow town center, reducing dependency on the automobile. Spacious designs offer room for families, while single-level living options mean owners can age in place in security and comfort.

We’re all about bringing people together – a new community center will provide a space for classes, gatherings and community events, bringing residents and neighbors together throughout the seasons.

Along the way, Grow has become the largest planned solar community in Washington state – with more clean energy-producing rooftop PV systems being added all the time.

As we enter our third and final phase, the Park neighborhood, we’re proud of what we’ve achieved. A healthy community of satisfied residents and, we believe, an inspiration that others can follow for forward-thinking, sustainable urban design.

Visit Grow Community today, and let us share it with you – a new way of living, at one with the future and the world.

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.

French TV Feature – A quest for the greenest residential developments

French TV came to town last summer looking for the greenest residential developments in the USA, and their quest led them straight to Grow Community.

Over the course of four busy days, Echo-Logis program host Anthony DaSilva and his crew interviewed Grow residents and the folks from our project developer Asani.

Watch the Echo-Logis half-hour feature here.

Even if you don’t speak French – there are no subtitles, Hélas! – the videography of Grow Community and our Bainbridge/Seattle land-and-seascapes is simply stunning. The Echo-Logis crew made extensive use of aerial photography with a small drone, and the footage is well worth seeing – whether or not you live at Grow, you’ll be reminded why you want to live here.

Thanks again to Anthony and his very talented crew for visiting Bainbridge Island and taking the Grow Community story to the globe. We know your storytelling will inform and inspire!