Re: Design Process & Energy/heating/design issues - interaction?
From: Jim Snyder-Grant (
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 94 08:39 CST
At New View (Acton MA), this process has proceeded as follows:

Early goals statement included 'ecologically friendly'. In our discussions 
about this goal, it became clear that this meant a variety of overlapping 
concerns for different people: reduced water use, use of recycled or at  least 
renewable materials, enery efficiency, the chance (eventually) for some 
households to go off-grid, the use of renewable or at least lower-polluting 
energy sources, on-site composting & support for recycling, etc.  

One of the criteria for the architect we chose was that his team include 
specific expertise in these areas. Amacher/Quinn Associates, who we are happily 
working with, had some expertise in-house, and assembled an excellent 
consultant team to advise on many of these issues.

Most of this activity has been given to committees to work on, mostly the 
design committee or its sub committtees. I haven't joined any of those 
committees, so I can't give you great details there. Maybe Nancy can.

Every so often, these committees come back to the group to do some education & 
proposal making. For example, we learned about the Energy Crafted Home 
standards (and approved their use in our construction. [I think ECH may be a 
Massachusetts standard, so if you've never heard of it, maybe somebody who 
knows more than I can can fill in the detials. It's basically a set of 
standards about energy use, air tightness & air circulation & air quality, etc. 
Builders can get certified, banks are allowed to assume lower utility bills for 
ECH homes & thus increase borrower's lending capacity, etc.] As another 
example, we early on approved a landscaping concept that included a lot of 
permacultural ideas such as edible, low-maintainence plants. Committees are 
still sorting through heating options, as nancy has implied, including a 
proposal for geothermal heat pumps, and a question about whether we can do 
without the expense of piping in gas. We recently authorized a group to look 
into wood-stove/fireplace standards, so that some households can have wood as a 
heating backup & esthetic nicety, while the rest of us can have a good chance 
of being able to safely breathe the air.

In the formal programmming for the common house & the individual houses, we 
re-affirmed our willingness to support our ecological concerns, but again, the 
details have been left to committees working with professionals.

I can't believe I have time to respond in the midst of the Loan Construction 
Craziness we are going through now - we expect to close on our land Thursday 
11/10 & have ground breaking Sunday 11/13. There are the usual million pieces 
of paper to sign & the last minute unresolved issues to resolve - I can hear 
the legal money-meter chewing quickly through our legal budget.

Jim Snyder-Grant
Jim_Snyder-Grant [at]
New View Cohousing, Acton MA

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