America's Top 10 Green Cohousing Developments

Looking to live in a community of like-minded eco-warriors? Check out our picks for the best of the best nationwide.

| January/February 2009

  • Casa Verde offers an eco-savvy take on the classic American neighborhood.
    Photo by Mary Lynne Ashley
  • Perfect for families, Heartwood Cohousing has kid-friendly bike trails, a game room and farm animals.
    Photo Courtesy Heartwood Cohousing
  • All of the homes at Cobb Hill have domestic solar hot water and an abundance of south-facing windows.
    Photo by Peter Allison

Cohousing residents actively participate in their neighborhoods’ design, maintenance and operation. They often share common meals, recreation areas and gardens. Though most cohousing developments are environmentally conscious, these eco-friendly communities scored highest on our list of green criteria. Their communities include alternative energy solutions, recycled flooring and cellulose insulation, Energy Star appliances, community solar ovens and efficient lighting.

1. Heartwood Cohousing
Bayfield, Colorado
In rural southwest Colorado, 75 residents share common facilities and more than 250 acres.
■ Common area includes guest rooms, laundry and exercise rooms, library, game room, kitchen and dining room.
■ Solar-powered pump and gravity-fed water system move irrigation water to landscaping around homes.
■ Residents grow food and raise animals.
■ Two natural gas wells
■ All community and private homes are Energy Star-qualified.
■ Straw-bale workshop uses sustainable lumber.
■ Pathways and roads increase water permeability.

2. Metro Cohousing at Culver Way
St. Louis, Missouri
Community developers are restoring three commercial buildings to create 40 condominium units and shared spaces.
■ Powered with solar energy and methane generated onsite
■ Common facilities and homes use ground-source heat pumps.
■ Rooftop gardens filter and slow runoff and reduce bills.
■ All buyers receive 25-year property tax abatement.
■ Panel system made from Structural Concrete Insulated Panels (SCIPs) for walls, floors and ceilings

3. Milagro Cohousing
Tucson, Arizona
Twenty-eight homes are clustered to save more than three-fourths of the Sonoran Desert land as a nature preserve.
■ Common house includes kitchen, meeting room, library, playroom, storage rooms and laundry facilities.
■ Powered by roof-mounted solar panels
■ Passive solar design with adobe walls and concrete floors
■ Roofs collect rainwater for basins or storage cisterns.
■ Permeable parking lot and driveways
■ Community solar oven

4. Casa Verde
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Within walking distance of schools, hospitals and parks, the community houses a coffee shop and an arts center.
■ Site of former rose greenhouses required soil cleanup
■ Energy Star-qualified
■ All south-facing roofs have hookups for solar panels
■ Recycling program, garden and common house including dining room, kitchen, playroom, laundry facilities and patio
■ Recycled cellulose wet-blown insulation
■ Recycled-content flooring, exterior decking and carpet

5. Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm
Peterborough, New Hampshire
Located on 70 acres along the Nubanusit River, this 29-home
community conserves farm fields, riverfront and woodlands.
■ LEED Platinum certification
■ Central pellet boiler plant uses locally produced biomass fuel to provide heat and hot water.
■ Low-toxicity building materials and fresh-air ventilation system with heat recovery
■ Two-thirds of homes on site of abandoned hotel
■ Stormwater treatment uses grassy swales and rain gardens.

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