If you can ignore the egregious lede — did green building really come from hippies? — there’s much to celebrate in this article on Sonoma Mountain Village, “a community of about 2,000 homes and businesses, centered around a town square, using the latest principles of sustainability, green technology and new urbanism.”
It’ll be about 175 acres, done in about 12 years, and muy verde:
To make the plan work, Codding [Enterprises] spent $7.5 million to create the largest privately owned solar power installation in Northern California — 90,000 square feet of solar panels capable of generating 1.14 megawatts to power 1,000 homes. Central heating and cooling will be provided by a converted power plant left behind by Agilent, using a four-pipe, fan coil system popular with luxury hotels. Modifications to the system are expected to make it carbon neutral within five years.
Homes will be placed on the site to take advantage of passive cooling created by prevailing northwest winds. Another idea is to build a network of cisterns to collect rainwater, which will be used to flush toilets.
It also sounds pleasant:
To make it easy, 80 percent of the homes will be located within a 5-minute walk of the town center, where residents can buy groceries, get a haircut or lounge with a latte. About 700,000 square feet of commercial/retail space is being planned for the town square and outer retail strip. The homes — ranging from 500-square-foot condominiums to 3,500-square-foot single-family residences — will be within a 10-minute walk of the train station, so getting around by car will be an option rather than a necessity.
The community will include parks, an international-size soccer field, a fitness center, basketball courts and other amenities.
Because studies have shown that narrow streets are safer for pedestrians, the plan is to have them, along with row houses, with stoops in front and garages in back, to make walking more appealing. Small parks are to be located every four or five blocks. Codding plans to use multiple architects and builders “so it doesn’t have a cookie-cutter feel.”
“It’s about being healthier,” Syphers said. “It’s about walking more places, about lowering expenses so that you don’t have to work so hard, and it’s about feeling connected to a community that is doing something positive.”
“So we’ve really done a 180-degree change in our business,” says [Codding CEO Brad] Baker. “We’re trying to lead the way. We think it’s extremely do-able. We expect it to be a mega-trend in future development.”
Baker also expects sustainable development to be profitable. The $7.5 million solar installation is expected to recoup its costs in 12 years, with an 18 percent profit. Costs for the cisterns of rainwater will be ameliorated by not having to lay pipes for a storm drainage system.
My one complaint is, I don’t hear anything about low-income housing. That’s part of sustainability too.