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Green appeal: Built-in ecodesign. When you move into a green community, or ecovillage, a major part of the appeal lies in the fact that all of the green design work has been done for you. Many communities use solar or wind energy, rainwater harvesting and composting. Inside, homes in ecovillages may incorporate other aspects of green design, from sustainable and recycled materials to passive heating and cooling.
Still under development at this writing, the Redberry modular solar homes (shown here) would make a good choice for green housing in an ecovillage. By being partially constructed at a centralized offsite location, modular homes have the potential to greatly reduce waste during the building process.
Green appeal: Shared areas equal more fun, less waste. Community features such as a common playground or swimming pool reduce the energy and resources it would take to build and maintain these amenities in individual homes, while also providing an opportunity to get together with neighbors.
Green appeal: Mixed-use space. The South Main community in Colorado has integrated plenty of live-work space, with residents living above their own shop or working from a home-based office. Cutting out the commute saves an incredible amount of pollution; plus residents can benefit from the goods and services provided by others in the community, further increasing the "walkability factor."
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Community Spotlight: Sandywoods Farm, Tiverton, Rhode Island
The Sandywoods community offers both single-family homes and affordable rental apartments, widening the scope of who has access to this lovely ecofriendly village.
Green appeal: Locavore lifestyle. Whether sharing a rooftop garden in the city or a large vegetable farm complete with chickens and beehives, many ecovillages include support for growing and eating locally. The Sandywoods Farm garden includes fruit trees, shared veggie gardens and an area just for kids.
Green appeal: Sense of community. More than being simply a collection of houses, ecovillages aim to foster a sense of kinship and community among residents. At Sandywoods Farm, many of the community gatherings — from art events to live music and even a produce market — take place in this graceful main house.
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Community Spotlight: TCI Lane Ranch, Carbondale, Colorado
This Colorado community aims to produce net zero energy, with a community solar farm, access to mass transit, bike paths and a community garden.
Community Spotlight: San Juan Passage, Anacortes, Washington
A sustainable, walkable coastal community in Washington state, the San Juan Passage reserved the best waterfront sites for community parks to be enjoyed by all, and landscaping efforts focus on maintaining native plant and wildlife habitats.
Want to find an ecofriendly community in your area? Check these resources for community listings where you live: