Three unique yet connected neighborhoods form our EcoVillage. Built sequentially over nearly 20 years, each cohousing cooperative pioneered and evolves new practices for green building and energy use. Together we form a community that enjoys working, playing and learning together.
FROG (First Residents Group) is EcoVillage Ithaca’s first neighborhood, completed in 1997, and the first cohousing project in the State of New York.
Thirty homes of varying sizes are clustered closely in two facing rows. Flowering and fruiting trees grace the pedestrian pathway meandering through FROG. All the houses are passive solar, with 14 foot high windows on the south side, and super-insulated walls. They are centrally powered by a 50KW array of solar panels (link to page on renewable energy) just east of the neighborhood.
Many founding members of EcoVillage continue to live here, joined by newer arrivals, creating an age-diverse neighborhood. Many interesting stories are shared about the early days of our Village!
FROG’s solar-powered Common House hosts all sorts of events – community meals, workshops, concerts, Guys Baking Pies and Halloween parties. A large pond is a central focus for activities in summer and winter – swimming, skating and bonfires. The children’s Playground, our Community Gardens, and the Permaculture-designed berm garden nurture our life together.
SONG (Second Neighborhood Group) was completed in 2006 and launched our unique status as an Ecovillage with multiple cohousing neighborhoods.
As in FROG, 30 homes are built as duplexes to save energy and materials. However, SONG employed a different construction strategy using a self-development model, rather than a single architect. The layout of the neighborhood is expanded slightly to create a large common area in the center, opening to a viewshed of the surrounding hills.
SONG homes are individually customized, demonstrating a wide variety of sustainable building techniques. All homes are Energy Star-certified. The large Common House is sited centrally, and provides shared facilities, including large kitchen and dining areas, laundry room, library and playroom. Along with EcoVillage gatherings, it serves as an event venue for organizations from the wider Ithaca area.
With diverse religious, diet and gender choices, SONG includes singles, couples, and families with teens and young children. They enjoy playing together in the neighborhood center and in the surrounding fields and 10-acre woodland on our northern boundary. Many keen gardeners tend a thriving Common House Kitchen Garden and a large Community Garden.
TREE (Third Residential EcoVillage Experience) began construction in late 2012. By October, 2013 the first seven households moved in, joyfully becoming the newest residents of EcoVillage Ithaca. Fully subscribed, the neighborhood is planned to be completed by Fall 2014.
TREE will be a neighborhood of 40 households, with yet another variant in neighborhood layout and building construction. All homes are expected to be certified as LEED Platinum. In addition, seven homes are designed to be certified to the very stringent Passivhaus standard, and will become the first Passivhaus cohousing neighborhood in the US.
All homes are extremely well-insulated, with continuous fresh air ventilation supplied by Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs). These homes are remarkably comfortable, yet are expected to use 80-90% less energy for heating and hot water than typical homes in the northeast. TREE also made a choice to not use any natural gas, due to concerns about fracking, so these all-electric homes will be offset by a 50KW solar array, plus additional panels on homes, as well as solar hot water.
Members of TREE come from all over the U.S. and the world, with families moving from as far away as Malaysia, Italy, Hawaii, Texas, Florida, and other states. TREE has many retired people as well, and the neighborhood has been designed for aging in place.
There will be a four-story Common House with 15 living units, a good-sized pond for both wildlife and recreation, and a community garden. TREE members bring tremendous energy and enthusiasm to their long-awaited dream of living in community.