The online directory of the Cohousing Association of the United States lists more than 240 cohousing projects. Some of them are still forming. Some, under the auspices of umbrella groups, are established but have not yet secured building sites. Many others were completed long ago, a few are now being retrofitted, and some are even expanding.
One such veteran cohousing community, EcoVillage at Ithaca, in central upstate New York, completed a 30-unit neighborhood in 1996, another 30-unit neighborhood in 2004, and now is planning a third, called Third Residential EcoVillage Experience, or TREE, that will add 40 more units to the community, including at least 25 homes that the development team aims to build to the Passivhaus standard.
Eight of the 40 units will be constructed as duplexes (the community’s existing homes are all duplexes), 17 will be detached homes, and 15 units will be built into a common house that will serve as the neighborhood’s centerpiece. Construction is expected to begin next year, with the last units completed in early 2013.
Small homes, small prices
EcoVillage has long supplemented its energy needs with photovoltaic power, and TREE likely will be no different. But even those units not built to the Passivhaus standard probably won’t be energy guzzlers: the homes will range from 450-sq.-ft. studios to 1,440-sq.-ft. four-bedrooms.
The project team also is striving for affordability, with prices ranging from $80,000 for a studio to $235,000 for a four-bedroom. As noted in a recent article published by the Ithaca Journal, the village has explored working with the National Affordable Cohousing Organization, which could purchase some of the units from the village and make those units affordable as rentals.
“We will be the first place in the Americas that will have three cohousing communities and one of the only ones in the world,” EcoVillage Executive Director Liz Walker told the paper. “At every step, we are doing pioneering work and that is part of what makes this all so special. Every day, there is something new.”