Re: Sustainable Living Guidelines Sought
From: David Heimann (
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2021 15:36:37 -0800 (PST)

Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2021 22:46:06 -0500
From: Lisa Wolf <tigerlisa [at]>
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: [C-L]_ Sustainable Living Guidelines sought
        <CAGZ+vBi7_4fDfED7yQ8F-Efna8K463SrVMvnsyA+19PVcQhP8w [at]>
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As move-in date looms ever closer, Bay State Commons Cohousing's Eco
Committee is working on developing a set of practical guidelines for
sustainable, eco-conscious living, and we would love to have ideas and
recommendations from other communities who have already developed their
own. We have a draft list of ideas, which at this point includes
community-wide composting, buying in bulk to reduce packaging waste, buying
organic and locally-produced food as much as possible, recycling as much as
possible, and filtering washing machine greywater to reduce microfibers in
our waste stream.

Do you have a set of principles and practices that your members have agreed

1. One of prime values, as shown on our Web site, is "Conserve natural resources by means of sound construction, energy conservation, recycling, and sharing things to reduce consumption", as well as "Share resources community wide."

2. We have also taken a number of actions to support sustainability -- see a list on the "Sustainability" page of our Web site. These include solar panels and other elements of sustainable design and construction, as well as sustainable gardening and food aquisition practive and sustainable transportation practices (look for our eventual capital improvement plan to put plug-ins into our parking spaces!).

 > What is working well in your community in this area?
All of the above.

Is there anything you wish you had gotten community agreement about from
the start?

Eventual electrification of our heating, which is now and has been gas heat. We can excuse ourselves somewhat in that 16 years ago when we moved in no one was aware of how much the state of the art for clean electricity was going to advance, but since you're starting now, it would be good to get that commitment to eventually (and reasonably soon) go there.

A similar commitment to eventually (and soon) put in solar power. We were lucky in that when solar did come up there were many tax credits and energy rebates as well as brownfield tax credits unique to our project, but even so we had some pushback due to cost and cash-flow considerations, so that it took those significant financial incentives to get those reluctant households into the fold.

 > What other questions should I have asked?
You'll know 3-5 years from now :-)
(though it might be a good idea to start a capital improvement fund that in those 3-5 years will help you get over the top)

P.S. -- Definitely commit now to a very strong reserves fund. We did so right at the start ourselves, and there's been many a time where we were glad we did!

Thank you in advance!

Very welcome!

David Heimann
Jamaica Plain Cohousing
Boston, MA

Lisa Wolf
*Pronouns: she/her/hers*
Bay State Commons Cohousing,
currently being built in Malden, MA


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