Future residents of Concord Ecovillage in West Grove presented their plans for the cohousing/ecovillage project to the public at a Dec. 7 meeting at Kennett Friends Meeting in Kennett Square.The plans for the secured 6.2-acre plot of land at the intersection of Willow and South Guernsey include 33 individually owned units with one, two, three or four bedrooms. Most units-20 to be exact-will have three bedrooms.
All homes will be from 750-to 1,500-square-feet, according to Anthony Aufdenkampe, equity member and future resident of Concord Ecovillage.
Concord Ecovillage has teamed up with nationally recognized green building consultants and developers Sandy Wiggins and Jackie O'Neil of Aye Partners LLC to make sure the project conforms to the highest environmentally friendly standards.
They're aiming for LEED-Platinum status, which is the highest award for environmentally friendly design. This means that the ecovillage must meet the highest standards for energy efficiency, health and safety, durability, water efficiency, environmental responsiveness and sustainability, said O'Neil.
They also want to make sure that the ecovillage promotes a diverse community and it's feasible and replicable, according to Aufdenkampe.
The biggest promise for the project is residents won't have electric bills, thanks to hyper insulation to minimize heat loss, geothermal heating, which will tap into natural heat from the earth, and cleverly hidden solar panels.
Plans for the land also include miniature parks and courtyards, restored wetlands and a community building that will offer a full-service kitchen, gym, workshop and guest bedrooms as well as meeting space.
In order to make storm water management more attractive and efficient, impervious pavement will be used for pedestrian walk-ways and rain gardens will be implemented.
The estimated cost of the units runs from about $200,000 for a one-bedroom to $400,000 for a four-bedroom.
Wiggins stressed that the cost shouldn't deter potential buyers because each unit will consume about half of the energy that the average American home consumes per square foot per year.
He also added that mortgage brokers are more likely to work with a homebuyer if they are hoping to purchase a net-zero energy home because electric bills don't come into account when estimating what the buyer is able to pay.
Concord Ecovillage is not the first of its kind and will not be the last.
There are currently almost 200 completed cohousing and ecovillage communities in the United States, with many more in progress, according to Aufdenkampe. A group in Northern Chester County is hoping to build a community, but the project is taking longer than anticipated.
If everything goes as planned for Concord Ecovillage, the project will move forward rather quickly and construction could begin in November 2009.
Right now, the project is in a due diligence period, which ends Dec. 26.
The West Grove Borough supports the ecovillage 100 percent, according to Wiggins, but rezoning must take place before the project can move forward. It will take most of next year to get through the entitlement process before construction can begin.
All of the residents already signed on to the project as well as the developers feel strongly about what the ecovillage and environmentally friendly living can do for the greater community and the world.
"We feel we want to live the life that matches our ideals as far as environmental sustainability and social sustainability," said future resident Anthony Aufdenkampe.
Future residents are responsible not only for promoting these ideals but for helping to make important decisions within the community using a refined consensus process, according to Aufdenkampe. For a $2,000 membership fee, which goes towards your down payment, buyers can guarantee a unit and take part in the decision-making process.
Aufdenkampe said that many of the units are still available.
For more information about Concord Ecovillage, visit www.concordecovillage.org.