SEATTLE — 07.22.2009 — Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) is celebrating completion of the innovative net-zero energy affordable housing neighborhood on Lopez Island. Advance tour begins at 11:00 am on Saturday, July 25 at 25 Tuatara Road, Lopez Island, 98261. Grand opening and tour for the public begin at 1:30 pm.
This project, called Lopez Common Ground, uses straw bale and earthen plaster construction, rainwater catchment, solar hot water, and a 33.8 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system for 11 homes. Mithun provided planning, architecture and landscape architecture.
Demonstrating green design that moves beyond buildings to neighborhoods to broader systems, the LCLT homes respond to their natural environment. Rainwater (approximately 25 inches per year on Lopez Island) will be reused to flush toilets, wash clothes, and irrigate on-site gardens and landscaping. On-site food cultivation that supports permaculture is another essential component of this project, aimed at long-term sustainability.
Expansive windows bring in natural light and the beauty of the surrounding landscape at Common Ground. Fostering environmental education, each structure reveals its water and energy meters. A shared garden along the entry street exposes visitors and homeowners alike to the community’s green design concepts.
Current development practices threaten the Pacific Northwest’s natural environment and quality of life, especially as this region is one of the fastest growing in the nation. Set in the San Juan Islands (known as the “Crown Jewels” of the Pacific Northwest), Common Ground sets an important precedent for living sustainably on a budget, and offers a model to inspire low-impact development strategies elsewhere in the country.
LCLT housing is an investment in a healthy community – helping working islanders stay on the island in order to sustain the community. The program serves a critical need in San Juan County, as recent statewide real estate surveys reveal that it has the lowest income and highest real estate value of all counties in Washington State. Under the Community Land Trust model, LCLT retains ownership of the land, thereby taking it out of the equation of the cost to purchase a home. The homes are tied to a limited equity resale formula, which helps assure permanent affordability for future homebuyers.
Common Ground is LCLT’s fourth affordable housing neighborhood on Lopez Island. Other neighborhoods have been featured in various publications including, The New Cottage Home, published by Taunton Press.
The following quotes provide important context:
"Green building promotes the economic, environmental and social health of a community. Common Ground incorporates renewable or energy-efficient, cost-saving practices and sustainable materials. These strategies not only promote quality of life for residents and the community, but make economic sense for affordable housing. They reduce operations and maintenance costs and lower utility bills." – Tammy Schacher, Mithun principal
"Common Ground is about reinventing the American Dream. In the years ahead, Americans will be compelled to shed some deeply ingrained habits of material consumption. These adjustments can be endured, nay, embraced, if people are confident that the country is headed to a more fulfilling transformation. I believe this transformation is fundamentally about discovering what it means to be truly human, not as “consumers” but as citizens, neighbors, friends, co-creators of a compelling story that embraces social justice and a healthy planet. It’s about smaller footprints and larger lives." – Chris Greacen, Common Ground resident
"In 1989, LCLT was created in response to the rapid rise of real estate prices. Escalation of home prices threatened the very fabric of our community. Common Ground is our fourth affordable housing development and the first net-zero energy neighborhood. Common Ground was developed for replication – modeling rain water catchment, solar electric and solar thermal systems, passive solar design, straw bale construction, earthen plasters and elements of permaculture design.
Common Ground is home to teachers, small business owners and those who are self-employed. It is a testament to living comfortably and sustainably with a greatly reduced carbon foot print." – Sandy Bishop, LCLT executive director
About Lopez Community Land Trust
The goal of the Lopez Community Land Trust is to build a diverse, sustainable island community through programs that primarily support low-income households through integrated strategies. Serving as a model in land stewardship and community development, the LCLT removes land from the speculative market to provide permanently affordable access to quality housing, sustainable agriculture and forestry, cottage industries and cooperatives. LCLT serves the community of Lopez Island, WA with a population of 2,200 and other communities through various outreach and education programs. lopezclt.org
Mithun is a leading sustainable design practice that creates lasting places for people. The firm’s innovative and collaborative spirit encompasses architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, urban planning, and ecology — a multidisciplinary approach that integrates nature, technology and design. Mithun’s commitment to sustainability extends to mixed-use, corporate, commercial, residential, civic, science and technology, higher education, retail, senior living, and environmental learning. mithun.com