Sustainable Communities: Living Better at Home

Stone Curves common house front

By Jennifer Rahn

For many, the idea of living in a sustainable community conjures up the image of an overpriced house filled with sacrifice and inconvenience. However, many Arizona builders and communities are confirming that eco-housing does not have to break the bank and can include the luxuries of everyday life that most are used to. The point is to no longer succumb to energy-zapping indoor toxins, over-the-top utility bills in the summer, water waste along with hours of yard work, and the practice of living in solitary among a community of neighbors. The following are examples of some eco-community neighborhoods in Arizona that are living better and more in harmony with the desert.

Stone Curves common house sideStone Curves COA

Beyond the norms of the typical HOA monitored housing is Stone Curves co-housing, located in Tucson. This neighborhood offers the privacy of detached homes, but creates a strong community through shared common facilities. The beauty of the Sonoran Desert is captured through the winding walking paths and is enjoyed by all in the outdoor gathering areas. A 3,850-square-foot Common House is at the heart of this community and offers so much more than a typical clubhouse. Energy efficiency, alternative and salvaged building materials, and rainwater harvesting are key highlights of the project. This sustainable community is built around people rather than cars. As a matter of fact, cars are not even allowed on neighborhood streets – they must be left just outside the entrance. Whether in the form of weekend BBQs, celebrating holidays, or just a Friday night, co-housing embraces a sense of togetherness that has long been lost by the typical suburban commuter living an on-the-go lifestyle.

Indigo Ridge frontIndigo Ridge

Green living is also available up north in Page, Arizona, amidst stunning views of Lake Powell. Indigo Ridge is a destination to call home for families, retirees and seasonal dwellers who are looking for a healthy and active lifestyle. Huntley LLC is working towards LEED certification with the implementation of energy-saving homes that support water conservation and protection of the environment. Along with being eco-friendly, these homes feature natural stone exteriors to keep them in line with the beautiful desert surrounding them. This development garners a true appreciation for all that Arizona has to offer.

Gordan Estates Front

Gordon Estates

This South Phoenix neighborhood is comprised of 14 affordable and green family homes. Gordon Estates is the blossoming flower of sustainability, as it emerged amidst the 2008 housing crash and recession. Each and every home in this subdivision was built with a six-panel solar energy system, top-of-the-line energy-efficient HVAC, spray-foam insulation, and a solar heated hot water system. Rather than making these homes “solar ready” like many builders, the City of Phoenix worked with the builder, Mandalay Homes, to assure that these homes would save homeowners money now and well into the future. Gordon Estates is a prime example of how sub-communities can be used to fill in vacant Valley lots for the better, rather than continuing to build cheaply and inefficiently outwards.

Galleries at Turney FrontGalleries at Turney

It could be said that this project, designed by Modus Development, gave green building the fashionable push it needed to jumpstart the movement in Arizona. Galleries at Turney, located near the Biltmore, became the first LEED certified homes in Arizona and are also nationally certified by the USGBC. These homes meet the LEED requirements of healthy living, water savings, energy efficiency, quality materials, and use of space along with modern amenities. The eight units were built on what were formerly two single-family home lots. The opposite of urban sprawl is met with sensible urban density without sacrificing lifestyle.

Sustainable communities are the way of the future and well worth the investment, since they are built to last beyond the next perfunctory home trend. Residents can enjoy modern niceties while doing their part by simply living within their four walls – no sacrifice required.

Jennifer Rahn is currently pursuing an academic career in Sustainability to create a healthier lifestyle for her family and to inspire others to also be eco-conscious.

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