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Organic Consumers Association

Green Building & Co-Housing Movement Starting to Take Off

At a time when the housing market remains in a slump, consumer demand is growing for energy-efficient homes that are kinder to the environment...

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. - At a time when the housing market remains in a slump, consumer demand is growing for energy-efficient homes that are kinder to the environment.

And it's not just individual homes that are going green. Increasingly, it's entire neighborhoods.

Take the Nubanusit Neighborhood in New Hampshire. With its mix of single-family, duplex and four-unit buildings, organic farm, shared office space and common house, Nubanusit is an earth-friendly cohousing community, where residents own their own homes, but share common space.

Lono Hunter, an aspiring architect who spent years studying green construction and design, moved to the eco-village in April.

"It's a little bit of an experiment," Hunter says. "You can do it yourself - you can add features, you can add insulation - but in terms of actually living in a way that maybe has some potential to help the environment, I think you need the power of numbers."

There are 113 cohousing communities around the country, and about 90 more in the works, said Craig Ragland, executive director of the Cohousing Association of the United States and who founded the Songaia and New Earth Song cohousing communities in Bothell.

Though sustainability has been a longtime trend in cohousing, Ragland said he's seen increased interest in recent years toward the use of solar energy and other green-building practices.

Meanwhile, builders of more mainstream developments also are embracing green neighborhoods.

Recent market research by McGraw-Hill Construction projects that the green-building market could account for $20 billion in sales, or 10 percent of the overall home-building market, this year. Those figures are expected to double within five years.

Starting next year, the U.S. Green Building Council will begin applying a version of its Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) rating system to entire neighborhoods rather than single buildings.

Full Story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/zoom/html/2008226352.html

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