Livable Co-housing Communities for Green LivingDownload Audio Version
There are different types of co-housing communities that are designed for green living. Some communities have a common house for dining and social activities. But regardless of the arrangement, they have become popular in the U.S. and many countries around Europe. Communities are found in Germany, Canada, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, the Philippines, and other countries.
Features of Residential Units in Sustainable Communities
Some communities have farms that allow residents to grow their own fruits, vegetables, and other crops. They use sustainable farming practices to reduce the carbon footprint. Some communities also have bio gardens and dairy farms. Land is usually owned by the community members. Centralized boiler systems are used for heating. The houses also meet passive-energy and low-energy standards. They come in different types, including converted construction trailers, apartments, shared flats, and others. Others communities feature detached single-family houses, duplexed pairs, and townhouses. There are communal buildings for different activities, including mediation, movie screenings, dancing, meetings, and shared meals. Eco-communities also feature sustainable infrastructure, installations, and design. They have waste compost systems, wind and solar-based energy and equipment, and more.
Types of Communities
There are different types of green communities, including cooperatives, intentional communities, transition projects, co-housing communities, eco neighborhoods, and others. In addition, other forms include resettlement projects, eco villages, and settlements. There are two main types – rural and urban settlements. Some of them are experimental. Some communities are also spiritual or religious in nature. The number of inhabitants varies from a few residents to more than 100 dwellers. Residents come from different walks of life – there are pensioners, counselors, administrators, entrepreneurs, engineers, homemakers, and others. Many of them are interested in permaculture, food forests, aquaculture, animal husbandry, and wildlife and organic gardening.
Many forming communities are open to both new members and visitors. Members with debt are also welcome. Some established communities are not open to new members but visitors are accepted. This doesn’t mean that they are too large. They can have just 15 – 50 members. In some communities, all members share a common diet. The schooling practices vary. Some members, for example, prefer home schooling. There is usually no regular or join fee and no labor contribution. Income may be partially shared or the members have independent finances. The same goes for expenses. Given that there are different types of settlements, the arrangements vary widely. Many communes are 100 percent income sharing while co-ops are shared housing communities that share expenses. They are usually found in urban locations. Others are found in suburban locations. Land may be owned by the members or managed by a land trust. Co-housing communities emphasize the importance of communal living but members live in private homes. Religion may play an important part. There are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and other religious communities. Some communities are smoke-free while in others, tobacco is allowed. Alcohol can be used occasionally or socially in many communities. Communities that emphasize the importance of shared living also have shared meals several times a month.
Activities and Workshops
Some communities also offer activities such as honey rotation, bread baking, and hiking, as well as courses and trainings on sustainable communities, sources of renewable energy, and more. They also offer volunteer programs, seminars, workshops, and conferences on cooperative communication, permaculture, green design, etc. The goal is to teach values and practices such as self-sustainability, spirituality, and shared living. The workshops focus on the cultural, social, economic, and ecological aspects of eco communities and sustainable living. The communities themselves are organized around concepts such as ecology and holistic living.
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