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 likes Grow’s common spaces

Grow Community got some more great kudos this week in Urban Land, the online magazine of the prestigious Urban Land Institute.

Grow is honored in the feature article “Growing Sociability: Integrating Communal Spaces with Development,” which looks at “agrihoods” (development-supported agriculture), edible landscaping, and other trends in sustainable community design.

“A new day is dawning in residential development that can serve as a foundation for how people will be living for generations to come,” ULI writes, a comment amplified by a leading architect and town planner.

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Community, the planner says, is the next generation’s golf course – an attractive amenity to build a whole neighborhood around — and developments that include a working farm or agricultural activities are creating new healthy, cohesive communities.

Sounds like Grow! Our project manager Greg Lotakis tells ULI how Grow Community’s shared gardens are the axis around which our first phase, the Village, is organized. And what a draw those gardens are for buyers. The gardens are growing a vast variety of flowers, shrubs, and even some vegetables. The community is coming together and growing things for one another, creating a gorgeous landscape. Some community members have read a backpack leaf blower guide, learning to keep the space nice and clear so that there is a clear division between plants. As you may have guessed, there are a lot of leaves in this space, so being able to clear them with ease is important to the community and keeping this space pristine.

“We have microhoods-six or eight homes that face each other and the community gardens between them,” Greg says. “The neighbors work together and decide what they want to plant – and the gardens have really brought neighbors together. When people come to see the community, they see how lush the garden spaces are and the community interaction they create.”

It’s a great article on this exciting trend in urban planning, all the better for highlighting the success of our own Grow Community. Read the whole story here.

 

What’s it like to live at Grow Community?

Our bountiful neighborhood gardens get all the press, but there’s still plenty going on during these chilly indoor months.

YULE FEST: Over the holidays one Grow resident hosted a Weihnacht Evening, a German-themed Christmas get-together with tasty hot mulled wine (and NA cider, for those who don’t imbibe), homemade cookies and spicy bread.

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FETE ’15: Across the way, residents of the new Cooper building threw a neighborhood-wide New Year’s Eve party, a get-acquainted social to introduce Grow’s most recent residents.

BARGAINS & BINS: Our eco-conscious ethos served us well through the holidays, as residents made sure unneeded items found their way to the nearby Bargain Boutique thrift store, and leftover packaging wound up in the appropriate recycling bin.

STAYING SAFE: Grow’s Emergency Preparedness Training got underway with the Bainbridge Island Fire Department, with the goal of “Building and Strengthening Disaster Readiness Among Neighbors.” Emphasis was on “mapping” the neighborhood to know our neighborhood resources and identify residents who might be vulnerable in an emergency. Grow is all about being a self-sustaining community.

PEDALS READY: The new bike barn was finished – and promptly filled up with two-wheeled wonders. One resident donated a small children’s bike community use, for any young visitors who want to get to know Grow by pedaling around the green.

GETTING ON BOARD: For strategically minded gamers, a new neighborhood Chess Group is forming.

Oh — and the 2015 Garden Committee is now looking for new members to plan for the upcoming planting season. You didn’t think we could get through a whole post without mentioning the gardens, did you?

Grow Community’s first phase, the Village, is at full occupancy, so we’re making more room just for … you. Find out what our next two neighborhoods, the Grove and the Park, have to offer by visiting our sales office at 180 Olympic Drive in Winslow, just up the way from the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal.

Learn more about the Grove on our website here and pay us a visit! We’d like you as a neighbor too.

As the saying goes: We all live downstream

That’s literally true for the rich sea life of Eagle Harbor and Puget Sound. Sediments and other runoff from land can have a harmful effect on their ecosystem, smothering fish eggs, increasing ocean acidity, or carrying heavier pollution (like plastics) into their — our —  precious waters.

So as we continue site work for Grow phase 2, we’re making sure we don’t send any pollutants off into the harbor.

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We’ve commissioned “Rain for Rent,” an innovative, portable filtration system that captures and treats our runoff before it leaves the work site. The process looks like this:

First, water is channeled across the entire site and into a large sediment pond at the south end of the grounds. After heavy rains and once the water level reaches a certain point, our “pond” is pumped into the treatment system.

Then the blue “Rain for Rent” tanks run the site water through sand filters that remove sediment and pollutants, and balance pH levels to assure the water we finally discharge is cleaner than what landed on our site to begin with.

With Eagle Harbor less than a mile downstream from our several-acre worksite, we’re committed to giving it all the protection it deserves. After all, lives are at stake.

 

 

IT’S SO EASY BEING GREEN

Your closest neighbor at Grow Community? The environment. Healthy, sustainable living has never been more convenient.

Grow puts you close to your community – and closer still to the great outdoors. Residents of the Grove enjoy the quiet company of woodland trees and an orchard right outside their doors; homes in the Park flank the sprawling central green that gives the neighborhood its name.

Altogether, sixty percent of these neighborhoods are dedicated to peaceful and natural open spaces. Parking is underground, reducing impervious surfaces and putting cars out of sight (where they belong).

Not that you’ll really need a car. We’ve got bikes you can borrow, too.

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Grow gets Slammed — but it’s cool!

gbs-10x10x10-logo-300x212Ten projects. Ten slides. Ten minutes.

And one goal: to honor the very best in sustainable construction — like Grow Community.

We’re pleased to say that Grow is one of 10 projects asked to present at this year’s prestigious “Green Building Slam” at the University of Washington. Sponsored by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, the rapid-fire event showcases unique projects and new approaches to environmentally conscious construction.

Featured speaker will be Kathleen O’Brien, a nationally recognized leader in the field of sustainability as a writer, educator, strategic planner and project consultant for nearly 30 years.

The Green Building Slam event will be held from 5-10 p.m. Nov. 15 at UW’s Kane Hall, with presentations beginning at 6:30. Networking and goodies throughout.

We’re honored to be part this great event. We’ll gladly take the Slam!

More information here

2014 Roof-Mount Project of the Year Runner-Up: Grow Community

Grow is a runner-up in Solar Builder magazine’s 2014 Project of the Year contest in the roof-mount systems category. We earn a nice feature in the glossy magazine’s new issue, and you can read the story online here or scroll down.

“We wanted to deliver a product that both was designed to be extremely energy efficient but also had the idea of solar in mind at the time of design,” project manager Greg Lotakis tells Solar Builder. “We started at the roof, asked how many panels we could get on it, designed the roof for that, [estimated] what we expected [to] produce, and then we used that energy budget and worked backwards into the house. What we are really striving to do: deliver a really healthy, energy-efficient home that has the ability to be net zero with solar.”

It worked! Grow is already the largest planned solar community in Washington, with more solar on the way in our next two neighborhoods, the Grove and the Park.

It’s also a great success for local manufacturing. Grow Community uses Made In Washington solar components including microinverters by Blue Frog/APS and solar modules by itek Energy

Oh, by the way: The winning project is Solar For Seals, a rooftop system powering a Luguna Beach, CA, environmental center that rescues and rehabilitates injured marine mammals. We don’t mind finishing second to those guys!

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SOLAR BUILDER MAGAZINE
October 21, 2014 by

If you could create the perfect community to live in, what would it look like? What would be essential to your happiness?

grow-3A group from Bainbridge Island, Wash., asked these questions when embarking on a new housing development a few years back. Stacked apartment complexes and cookie-cutter houses had been done before; you probably live in one right now. But given the chance to live in a new and unique community that puts the planet first, would residents be on board?

The answer was an overwhelming, “Yes, please!” Grow Community‘s first batch of sustainable, solar-ready homes sold out almost immediately, and the next round expects the same result. The largest solar community in Washington (currently at 112 kW and growing), Grow consists of 23 homes and two 10-unit apartments, and more houses are coming. Along with open green spaces, underground parking, and water softeners to keep hard water damage at bay (click here), the neighborhood has shared community gardens and energy-efficient everything (insulated walls, quality windows, everything). This housing development’s impressive community impact led to it winning second place in the roof-mount category of Solar Builder‘s 2014 Project of the Year awards.

Grow Community is the brainchild of Bainbridge Island investors, including Asani LLC, an integrated real estate development services and investment company, and PHC Construction, a building contractor with a strong passion for sustainability. Together, they envisioned an urban community built on the principles of One Planet – a global program for green neighborhoods based on living within the resources provided by “one planet.”

grow-players-300x146The One Planet idea first started in the United Kingdom with help from BioRegional, an entrepreneurial charity that initiates and delivers solutions to live within a fair share of the earth’s resources. For example, BioRegional estimates that North Americans use about 5.5 planets of resources to go about their daily lives; residents of the United Kingdom use 3 planets. One Planet communities (there are only nine endorsed in the world, and Grow Community is now one of them) use 10 guiding principles to develop appropriate sustainability solutions through design and construction to bring society’s usage down to one planet: zero carbon, zero waste, sustainable transport, sustainable materials, local and sustainable food, sustainable water, land use and wildlife, culture and heritage, equity and local economy and, finally, health and happiness.

“One Planet is very much focused on creating an opportunity for communities to support each other in meeting the goals of living a one-planet lifestyle,” says Greg Lotakis, Grow Community’s project manager with Asani. “One of the principles is health and happiness, and that’s obviously hard to quantify. How can you make it fun and healthy to pursue zero carbon?”

Grow’s developers felt that working toward the zero carbon and zero waste goals would eventually lead to health and happiness; residents would be happy they were living a sustainable life. One of the easiest ways to get there was to incorporate solar power into the plans.

“We wanted to deliver a product that both was designed to be extremely energy efficient but also had the idea of solar in mind at the time of design,” Lotakis says. “We started at the roof, asked how many panels we could get on it, designed the roof for that, [estimated] what we expected [to] produce, and then we used that energy budget and worked backwards into the house. What we are really striving to do: deliver a really healthy, energy-efficient home that has the ability to be net zero with solar.”

grow-4Solar was not forced upon any of the first 23 homes; all eventual homeowners were given the choice to install solar modules. All of the homes (except for one, where the homeowner traveled and was away from home enough over the year that saving additional costs with solar didn’t make sense) decided solar was a good option.

“You provide people choice, and you look at the opportunities that exist out there and bring them together, and the result is that (just about) everyone at Grow has chosen to pursue solar,” Lotakis says.

Local, Washington-made solar products – Itek Energy modules, APS America microinverters and SunModo mounting systems – came aboard for the project, along with local installer A&R Solar. Keeping everything within the state helped achieve the “equity and local economy” One Planet principle. Asani also approached local credit union Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union to work out solar loan options for the residents.

“The credit union has a program where they – with as little as 0 down – can create a second loan for your solar system, and they understand the local production incentives and are willing to back the loan knowing that you have the ability to pay off your loan within five to six years,” Lotakis says. “We were able to sit down with homeowners who had just taken out a loan and say, ‘Look, your home is ready to be net zero. This is your proposed system cost, this is who we have lined up to install it and why we chose the products we did, this is the credit union that could help you get into a loan to get this done so you don’t have to have any money out of pocket.’ The result is through their choice, and 80% of the folks did the loan process.”

Residents have been living in their homes anywhere between six and 18 months, and Lotakis says they’re astounded by their $10 or cheaper electric bills for their all-electric homes.

grow-1“All these things are in place, it’s kind of a moment,” Lotakis says, citing the incentives still available for those going solar in Washington. “We saw the opportunities, we created the opportunities for our homeowners, and they took it. We’re thrilled we gave that choice to people and they ran with it.”

The Pacific Northwest is known for being eco-conscious. Bainbridge Island, just one 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle, already encouraged green-living. Lotakis says Grow Community was a sure-thing for people looking to really embrace a sustainable lifestyle.

“The city and the planners have done a good job with smart growth requirements,” he says. “People were attracted to Grow because we were creating an intentional community focused on being eco-conscious. Its location was a sell, the design of the homes was a sell. You could be eco-conscious, but, as a numbers person, it was an easy sell.”

Summer’s glow warms us still

Even as we slip into a lovely high autumn, we can still take a fond look back to Grow Community’s summer garden party.

Residents of the Village celebrated the rich greenery and edible bounty found throughout the neighborhood with a festive and tasty afternoon get-together.

Flowers in glorious bloom. Vegetables ripe and ready. And neighbors who give the Northwest’s greenest community its amity and spirit. Now that was a day worth celebrating.

We’re already looking ahead to next summer!

ULI Tour: Cultivating a Sustainable Local Economy

Grow Community held center stage when the Urban Land Institute visited Bainbridge Island yesterday.

ULI members looked at Bainbridge as a prototype for “Cultivating a Sustainable Local Economy” — encouraging responsible growth, resource conservation, diversity and density while retaining the island’s rich cultural heritage.

The program also included stops at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and the Ericksen Cottages development, capped by a visit to Winslow’s Hitchcock restaurant.

The event was organized by ULI’s Thriving Communities Task Force, which studies arts communities, public amenities and leadership in sustainable development.

Thank you to the Urban Land Institute for recognizing Grow Community as a model of urban planning and sustainability!

 

 

Grow Community Tree Honoring Ceremony

We came together on one of the cooler nights we had seen in a while, a Wednesday. It was calm and comfortable. The type of quiet summer evening you spend walking/reflecting.

So we did. Five of us met at the Welcome Garden in the Village at Grow Community Bainbridge, and set out toward the next phase of Grow, the Grove and the Park. The purpose: to honor the trees that would give way to what was to come.

A light canvas drum was tapped to our slow pace as we skirted the boundary between new and old. We considered the future as each of us glanced from our beautifully prepared program to the soft sway of the tree branches.

The ceremony moved through Japanese prayers for honor, to short poems, to telling short stories of memories filled with trees. We were called to acknowledge that as trees are biologically connected and change with their seasons, they are an example of community and how we can live more healthy lives by being better connected to each other.

Each tree serves a purpose. At Grow, we hold a delicate balance between sculpting a site so anyone can be comfortable moving within it, to creating appropriate density, to allowing for solar production.

As we begin to remove trees for our future development we want to take a moment to give thanks for all they have been, what they will be, and how they have provided for all of us.

To help reduce our impact we are working with a local woodshop to salvage trees for purposeful reuse. We will be working with our site contractor to see that portions of trees and their base (root wad) can be used on future projects for salmon habitat and stream bank restoration. We will use what is left to provide firewood for our workers and mulch to protect our site from erosion and sediment discharge.

While it is always hard to see the taking of trees, we challenge others, as we have, to consider ways in which the impact of development can be reduced by pursuing creative reuse.

As we neared the completion of our ceremony we asked each other to share the story of an experience with a tree. It made me consider what memories will be created with all the new trees to come at Grow.

If you would, share your story/memory of a tree and help us honor those that make way for the new at Grow. My memory is of a scraggly birch in Alaska that was just wide enough to keep me from being charged by a moose. We honor all you provide.

By Greg Lotakis, Grow Team

One Planet Lunch for Construction Team

Contractors in the Grow Community PHC Construction team were treated to a locally grown luncheon on the job site last week. All food for the noontime repast was grown on Bainbridge and North Kitsap farms. Local agriculture, sustainability and health are always on the menu at Grow!