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Green Building News

A Cohousing Community Readies for Construction

Enrollment is almost full, housing designs are approved, and a prototype home built to Passive House standards is ready for visitors

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A recently completed 1,500-sq.-ft. three-bedroom in Belfast, Maine. The house was built to Passive House standards and serves as a prototype for the Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, which will include 36 homes clustered on three acres of the community’s 30-acre site.
Image Credit: G*O Logic
A recently completed 1,500-sq.-ft. three-bedroom in Belfast, Maine. The house was built to Passive House standards and serves as a prototype for the Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, which will include 36 homes clustered on three acres of the community’s 30-acre site.
Image Credit: G*O Logic
Heat and odors from the kitchen range that are captured by the range hood are exhausted above the refrigerator, not far from an intake port leading to the building’s heat recovery ventilator. Wood for the beamed interior was harvested locally.

An item posted this week by Triplepundit, a media company focused on ecologically sustainable business practices, discussed the philosophical and practical concepts behind cohousing and their practical application in the Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, in Belfast, Maine.

We mentioned the BC&E project briefly in April, in a GBA post about a prototype house being built for the community to Passive House standards by G*O Logic, the local company that will design and build the 36 homes planned for the community’s 30-acre site. Now, however, the 1,500-sq.-ft. prototype is complete and the subject of a video tour led by G*O Logic architect Matthew O’Malia.

The homes planned for BC&E range in size from 450-sq.-ft. one-bedroom cabins to 1,500-sq.-ft. three-bedroom houses, with prices ranging from about $140,000 to $270,000. The houses, plus what BC&E calls its Common House, for community gatherings, will occupy three acres of land, creating a relatively compact neighborhood with parking available on the periphery and abundant open space surrounding the residential cluster. Each housing unit will be privately financed and individually owned. At this point, BC&E has 28 of the 36 “equity member” households it needs to become fully subscribed. Equity members invest a minimum of $15,000 in the project and participate, along with all other BC&E adults, in managing the development of the community.

BC&E’s housing template

Being at the large end of the BC&E housing scale, the prototype shows how G*O Logic aimed to meet Passive House requirements, include a few amenities, and maintain a sense of spaciousness in a building of this size. The two-story house features R-40 walls and an R-80 roof, and is equipped with solar power and solar hot water systems. During the winter months, the heat recovery ventilator and passive solar gain are supplemented by small electric baseboard heaters – a total of 10 feet in all – in various locations.

In addition to accommodating Passive House requirements, the layout of the building also addresses one of the Northeast’s warm-weather inconveniences – mud season – with a generously sized mudroom and accompanying closet at the main entry.

The interior design is simple, with built-in shelves here and there, and locally harvested wood for the timber-frame ceiling in the kitchen and living room areas. The kitchen features a locally quarried granite countertop and a recirculating range hood with an exhaust port that opens above the refrigerator and close to the intake port for the home’s heat recovery ventilator.

The laundry closet includes a laundry spinner rather than a dryer, and overhead pegs and racks for hanging clothes, which, O’Malia says in the video, dry in only a few hours thanks in part to a nearby HRV ceiling port.

One Comment

  1. Greg Duncan | | #1

    site specific design
    I really like the video. It is a great way to show how a Passive House building can be context sensitive in terms of construction vernacular. Cohousing is an interesting concept as well.

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