Feature Article

Cohousing: How Green Is My Village?

"Community is the hidden dimension of sustainability.” Jim Leach, president of the Wonderland Hill Development Company, is convinced of the power of community. A paradigm of automobile-based land use, and with it suburban independence, has dominated American development patterns over the past 50 years. Although it still appeals to many American families, this suburban dream has social and environmental drawbacks that are leading some prospective homeowners and tenants to seek alternatives. The cohousing development model offers such an alternative. Along with offering a sense of community, cohousing opens a wide range of green building opportunities.

This article addresses cohousing, tracing its history and recent trends, examining the sustainability options provided by this form of development, and looking at some leading examples from around the U.S. While offering opportunities to improve our sustainability, cohousing also presents a unique set of design challenges that will be explored below.

Published September 1, 2002