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Sustainability in Cohousing - It’s Built In!

Cohousing chicks exploring the hen house.

Modern societies are set up in such a way that can make life unnecessarily lonely and difficult. The modern set-up with single family homes and lots of commuting can also make it harder to live in a way that is aligned with one’s values - to name a few - values around caring for and connecting to others, raising kids with freedom and community, and living sustainably. We’ve talked a bit in past newsletters about the ways Cohousing addresses the need for connection and the benefits for kids and parents, so today we thought we’d really dive into the way Cohousing is all about sustainability. From the way we design our homes and use land to the way we share resources and build a thriving community life right at everyone’s doorsteps.

Living lightly on the earth is one of Cohousing ABQ’s core values and you can see that reflected in many of the choices we’ve made while planning our community. All homes will be built to New Mexico Green Build Standards and will be all-electric, with Energy Star appliances and energy-efficient windows. By attaching townhomes and stacking flats, we will achieve energy efficiency and also a compact building footprint that leaves valuable open space for gardens, orchards and kids play areas. Toilet flushing is the single highest use of water in the average home (24% of household water use), so it also presents a prime opportunity for water conservation. To address this, we are installing low-flow plumbing and our toilets will be fed with gray water for flushing.

Cohousing ABQ community garden plans.

To care for our land, we are collecting all run-off and rainwater from our site, landscaping with native, drought-tolerant plants and have a large part of the site reserved to become certified as a local wildlife habitat. We’ll also have a community food garden and orchard, the produce from which will be shared at our common meals where kids will learn naturally about healthy food and how to grow it. To restore and feed the soils we will implement a community-wide composting program and neighbors of all ages can participate in a chicken or honey-bee share.

But in Cohousing, it’s not just through the built environment that sustainability is more achievable, it’s also through community connection. Neighbors share resources, like tools, gadgets, outdoor gear, toys and hand-me-downs. In Cohousing we don’t need 27 lawn-mowers, we just need one. And that principle extends to so many things that the need to purchase anything new is significantly reduced and so is waste.

And because cohousing provides a community right at your door-step, people don’t need to drive each time they want to socialize - have dinner or take a walk with a friend,j a cup of coffee with a neighbor. Cohousing ABQ is especially well situated to enable residents to drive less and walk and bike more - located walking and biking distance to downtown, old town and the bosque trails along the Rio Grande river. Our plans include convenient bike storage barns for many bikes and gates that open directly onto the trails. And when people do drive, they can share rides. It is not unusual in cohousing for three to four neighbors to share a trip to Costco or for kids to carpool to school together. On average, people living in cohousing communities report driving 50% less than before living there!

If you’ve been wanting to live in a way that is more aligned with your values, more connected to and protective of the incredible natural world that sustains us, Cohousing makes that very attainable. Sustainability is built in. We hope you will join us!

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