is attractive to me precisely because it meets an immediate practical
need for a rich social environment close to home while also satisfying
a deeper need to be a global citizen, to somehow reconcile the awareness
of ecological and social deterioration with the actions of my everyday
life. I feel that practically everything we do individually and collectively
in our community is modeling a way of life that is more satisfying
and sustainable than the resource-consuming lifestyles and practices
in which most (North) Americans remain enmeshed."
Lindemann, resident Berkeley Cohousing
From his article "Coming Home"
(Cohousing Journal, summer 1997)
promotes social, economic and
environmental sustainability, through the following
intergenerational communities. Cohousing communities include
people with different ages, backgrounds, family types, racial
heritage, religious and political affiliations. By going through
the planning, design and decision-making process together, residents
form the bonds that provide the foundation for ongoing community.
participation. Cohousing reaches out to the greater community
to attract people to the process. There is no social agenda beyond
creating a warm and friendly neighbourhood with the opportunity
for more connection with neighbours.
and care for community life. The extensive common facilities
are designed to create opportunities for spontaneous connection
and support the social fabric of the community.
personal attitudes and practices. A deep sense of connectedness
to others can lead to radical realignment of personal priorities.
In cohousing, although the individual is respected and valued,
community well being is equally important. Such values can broaden
into concern for the welfare of those unknown and those yet unborn
- which is the essence of sustainability.
self-determination. The members finance the development and
decisions are made using 100% consensus. The final product is
the result of a shared intention and deeply co-creative process.
opportunity for personal self-realization. All members have
equal opportunity for participation, leadership roles and access
need for external human resources and infrastructures. In
a community where people know their neighbours, there is considerable
opportunity for the natural connections and support that reduce
the burdens of day to day living. Daycare is often provided collaboratively
by the families who need it. The little things that make living
independently challenging for elders can be supplied naturally
in a cohousing community, reducing the need for outside support.
and Security. "Safety is in knowing your neighbours -
not in walls and barriers." - Corporal Dan Kelly RCMP.
managed development builds homes "at cost". Profit
that would normally go to a developer stays in the project in
the form of better quality finishing, common areas for shared
use, environmentally sensitive design and any other features that
the resident group may choose to include.
purchasers make more sustainable choices. The future residents
determine the product so there is a natural opportunity to become
educated about the cost benefits of choosing certain options.
Knowledgeable purchasers are more likely to choose a higher capital
cost now with future savings, thus choosing better quality and
more energy efficient alternatives.
to shared spaces reduces individual home size needs. Workshop,
guest room, craft room, meeting room, office, children's play
area, etc. can be shared in common. Individual homes can be smaller
when there is easily accessible space available for common use.
to shared resources allows individuals to decrease material possessions
without impacting on quality of life. Because of the social
fabric of the community the sharing of computers, printers, fax
machines, camping and sports equipment, freezers, tools, and even
automobiles are a natural part of daily life.
at home reduces transportation requirements. Social isolation
and infrastructure cost for equipment, common barriers associated
with working at home, are no longer applicable in cohousing. Home-based
occupations are also supported with advanced telecommunication
resources are more readily accessible in a connected community.
Cohousing provides an environment where the exchange of knowledge,
skills, expertise and time is a common occurrence. Shared child-care
and coordinated running of errands are two examples reducing the
demands of daily life.
in place is supported. Buildings are designed for aging in
place and the social support available in the community allows
elders to live on their own longer than in traditional housing.
demand supports value. Experience has shown that cohousing
communities have excellent resale value. People are willing to
pay for the added quality and community benefits.
and transparency are an integral part of the process. Decisions
are made by 100% consensus. All members have equal access to information
and equal responsibility for the decisions that are made. This
promotes responsible citizenship and can begin to reduce the tremendous
liability issues that our culture faces.
interaction encourages pro-environmental behaviour. Research
has indicated that influence, exchange, cooperation and support
all contribute to increased levels of pro-environmental behaviour
in cohousing communities.
use of land. Cohousing provides the opportunity for higher-density,
yet family oriented socially and sustainable development. Typically
sites are chosen within easy access of public transportation and
walking distance from many services.
alternatives. Substantial bicycle storage and easy opportunities
for car sharing because of the socially connected community have
created a documented reduction in automobile ownership and usage.
gardening. Wherever possible organic gardening is incorporated,
providing the opportunity for a locally generated food source.
species in the landscaping. This enhances the local ecosystem
and requires less maintenance, fewer pesticides and reduced water
natural habitat. Where communities have located in areas with
more land, care has been taken to preserve as much natural habitat
as possible and cluster the housing in order to have a lower impact
on the environment.
waste and water management. Construction site recycling is
typical for new development. In completed communities composting
and recycling are taken to another level by including community
collection systems for waste that is not typically picked up in
the "blue box" program. At Quayside Village gray water
recycling has also been incorporated. Rain barrels at Cranberry
Commons further reduce demands on potable water supplies.
efficiency and use of alternative energy sources. Cost benefit
analysis has caused Cranberry Commons members to pay a higher
capital cost for an in-floor radiant heating system using an energy
efficient boiler augmented with solar hot water panels.
choice based on analysis of embodied energy and environmental
impact. High volume flyash concrete was used at Cranberry
Commons, reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the
production of cement by 50% while providing a constructive use
for a waste product from burning coal. About 10% of the wood used
for construction at Cranberry Commons was reclaimed timbers, which
reduces our impact on the forests and effectively answers concerns
about how the wood was harvested.
resources and bulk purchasing. Extensive common facilities
shared by the community supports the social fabric, which makes
the sharing of resources a daily reality.