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Grow Community solar program highlighted in Kitsap Business Journal

Grow Community’s groundbreaking solar program got some great press this week in a Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal feature. Read it here.

The KPBJ gives a comprehensive look at the incentives that make Washington solar such a great deal, using Grow Community as a case study. The journal highlights Blue Frog’s Solar’s Simple Solar program, which makes it easier than ever to make the move to energy self-sufficiency. Blue Frog provides the advanced microinverter technology integral to each Grow Community home solar system.

As the Business Journal notes:

Blue Frog is collaborating on the largest residential solar project in Kitsap County — Bainbridge Island’s Grow Community, a project of real estate development and investment firm Asani. It’s an example of effectively designing and building homes to accommodate rooftop solar panels.
“We knew from the outset that our goal was to create a net-zero community using solar,” says Marja Preston, senior director of development at Asani and owner of a solar home at Grow. “So everything there was designed, including the apartments, so we could get enough solar panels on the roof to provide all the energy needed for the homeowner.”

Thanks to the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal and editor Tim Kelly for the great coverage! Find out more about Simple Solar here.

 

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How Does Our Garden Grow?

Very nicely, thanks! And it’s only going to get better. The shared gardens at Grow Community promise a bounty for the table and a close-knit neighborhood to share its goodness.

Community gardens and “edible landscaping” — everything from blueberries to tree fruits, with tasty vegetables on the vine — are a key feature at Grow, and a big part of our “One Planet Living” ethos. We want to honor the land by fostering and enjoying its wholesome yield.

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Now as we approach the first harvest season of our completed Village neighborhood, our gardens are really coming into their own. Residents in our new homeowners association (whose ranks include a few master gardeners, wouldn’t you know) have the happy task of divvying up the delicious fare. You gotta love it when a new sign goes up in your neighborhood, and it says, “Pick Me.”

We’re also talking to Friends of the Farms, the local non-profit that manages and promotes Bainbridge Island’s public agricultural land. We’re discussing how that group may be able to manage our orchards and gardens for an even greater yield, creating an urban farm that produces sustainable, locally grown food in volume and forges stronger community connections.

And this is just in the Village in Phase 1. With Grow Community’s next neighborhood, the Grove, which has just broken ground, and the Park neighborhood to follow, our green development will get even greener (if that’s possible). Sixty percent of the new neighborhoods will be devoted to open space including more bountiful trees and gardens.

We call our community “Grow” for a reason.

 

What does Washington’s largest planned solar community look like from the air?

Here’s a bird’s-eye view of Grow Community phase 1, the Village, and its remarkable concentration of energy-producing rooftops.

Grow Community homes are now producing 85-105 percent of their energy needs, eliminating residents’ power bills and earning financial credits through Washington’s strong solar incentives.

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Grow Community solar – now a radio star!

Grow Community’s solar program got the star treatment on KIRO-FM’s “Real Estate Today” over the weekend.

Grow project manager Greg Lotakis was among the panelists for “Simple Solar,” an hourlong discussion of Washington’s dramatic solar incentives and the ease of financing new solar systems for homeowners — and the tremendous benefits for solar adapters like Grow Community residents.

Real Estate Today’s popular host Tom Kelly interviewed Greg along with Tim Bailey, Blue Frog Solar founder and principal; Shannon Ellis-Brock, COO of Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union; Reeves Clippard, founder and CEO of A&R Solar of Seattle. On-air callers had great questions for the in-studio team, our partners in the Grow solar program.

Almost 100% of homes in Grow phase 1, the Village, now have an operational solar system or are queued up to get one installed, giving Grow distinction as the largest planned solar community in Washington state. Solar will be a key feature of our next two phases, the Grove and the Park.

Homes in the Village are producing between 85 and 105 percent of their energy needs through their rooftop installations.

“Until you can see and feel and understand that it works, it feels like it’s a myth,” Greg told Real Estate Today listeners.
“It’s been pretty remarkable.”

Listen to a podcast of the program on the Real Estate Today website.

Big thanks to Tom Kelly for his interest in Grow Community and the Simple Solar program!

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Breaking Ground, Then Making It Better Than Ever

We’ll do our best to keep the dust down, and the noise. But bear with us for a few days, and we think you’ll like what comes next.

Site preparation work gets under way this week at our new Grove and Park neighborhoods, beginning with removal of the old military housing along John Adams Way.

We’ll be recycling as much of the material as we can, although lead paint unfortunately will prevent reuse of some debris. You’ll also see some tree harvesting around the five-acre site being performed by the good craftspeople of Bainbridge Island’s Coyote Wood Shop. These will be milled and repurposed as fine furniture. Maybe even to use in future homes in the Grove!

Next comes the good stuff. As part of site development, we’ll be planting more than 210 new trees.

These healthy new specimens will define and enhance the Grove’s signature green corridors, help neighborhood stormwater retention, and play a big role in carbon sequestration for future generations. In case you missed it, you can read all about Grow Community’s tree plan here.

We expect onsite tree salvage to go through the week, and demolition of old structures to run about a week after that. Watch this site for updates, and then look forward to watching the Grove neighborhood rise up in your midst.

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NEEA, Next Steps Homes – Case Study

The Everett home in the Village is part of NEEA‘s (Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance) pilot project: Next Step Homes. The purpose of this pilot – partnering with a select group of builders across the Northwest – is to determine the most cost-effective ways to build homes that will achieve the greatest energy. Check out our case study on their website here and learn more.

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Trees for Global Benefits visiting Grow

Pauline, the Director of Trees for Global Benefits was visiting at Grow this last week.  This program sells carbon offsets to provide funds supports farmers in Uganda, providing funds to help them plant trees and manage their land.  Carbon offsets are sold to help fund the program which creates sustainable livelihoods for families in Uganda.  The revenue from the carbon offsets and from well-managed agricultural land helps them to get loans, to pay for school fees, to buy food for their children.  Grow supports Trees for Global Benefits on an ongoing basis.

For more information about Trees for Global Benefits see this video

Or go to their website: http://www.planvivo.org/projects/registeredprojects/trees-for-global-benefits-uganda/

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Building for Wellness: The Business Case – Urban Land Institute

DOES WELLNESS MAKE BUSINESS SENSE AS A DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVE?
How have developers pursued this objective? What has the market response been? And how have developers measured their success?

Grow Community is featured in this publication by Urban Land Institute as a case study on building for wellness.

Building for Wellness provides answers directly from developers who have completed projects with wellness intentions. In 13 sets of interviews, developers explain their motivation, their intended wellness and health outcomes, the development process and operations as related to their health intentions, and the key issue in this publication—the metrics of market performance.

Click here to read the publication.

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Setting New Standards of Efficiency

Two members of the Grow team, Dylan Sievertson (PHC) and Greg Lotakis (Asani), recently joined other builders within NEEA’s (Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance) Phase 1 of the Next Step Homes Program to discuss the future of our residential built environment. For the past year NEEA has been monitoring 12 pre-selected homes (including the Everett at Grow) from builders across the Northwest with the goal to determine new methods and specifications for high performing homes. Each of these high performing homes focused on energy efficiency, better indoor air quality, and (for some) the pursuit of Net Zero energy use.

The half day roundtable was used to share data, lessons learned, and open dialogue amongst the group of builders. The Everett was featured as a top performer and much was learned about the systems that were incorporated to make this home a leading example in home efficiency.

NEEA is getting set to begin Phase 2 of the program and Grow will again likely have another home monitored.

Click here to learn more about the Next Step Homes Program and Grows involvement.

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Installation Notes: Welcome To The Net-Zero Neighborhood – Solar Power World

March 11, 2014: By Andrew Merecicky

Residents of Bainbridge Island, Wash., led by Asani Development Initiatives, are re-imagining what a residential community could be. Even more impressive than its community gardens and car share program, the Grow Community is on track to be the largest planned solar-ready neighborhood in Washington State.

The housing development is designed to be a net-zero energy community, and is one of seven such endorsed projects by the One Planet Living program. Asani has also partnered with two Washington-based companies, BlueFrog Solar and A&R Solar, to develop an installation-ready solar package around which each home in the Grow Community is specifically designed.

The solar systems are intended to provide 100% of the energy demand of each house. The roofs of each structure were carefully designed to support the required number of solar panels. The installation package available to homebuyers features the Washington-based itek Energy‘s PV panels and APS America‘s microinverters.

Model homes on Grow Avenue NW. September 26, 2012. Credit: Anthony Rich

Model homes on Grow Avenue NW. September 26, 2012. Credit: Anthony Rich

“The variety of rooflines that make a project like Grow so visually interesting can be a challenge for solar systems, which rely on PV arrays being optimally oriented toward the sun,” says Kelly Samson CEO of APS America. “Unlike regular ‘string’ inverters, APS microinverters maximize output and allow monitoring of individual panels, optimizing the productivity of the whole array at all points in the sun’s daily arc across the sky.”

The project will be completed in three phases. The first phase, which is presently nearing completion, will contain 18 single-family homes, six town houses and 20 multi-family rental units. Two more neighborhoods, referred to as “neighborhood 2.0″ and “3.0″ respectively, are still in the design stages. Homeowners have the standing option to install a solar system or not, providing customers with flexibile options regarding installation timing and financing.

“The project is being constructed in three phases to reduce risk and to allow the development team to apply lessons learned in each phase to the subsequent phase,” says Marja Preston, president of Asani Development. “We were confident that the solar community would work as we had a long interest list prior to placing the homes on the market. All of the homes were presold before construction began, an indication that there is strong interest, not only in solar homes, but in solar homes in a connected, walkable community.”

The first solar modules installed on Grow model homes. July 13, 2012. Credit: Jonathan Davis

The first solar modules installed on Grow model homes. July 13, 2012.
Credit: Jonathan Davis

Phase II, containing neighborhood 2.0 and 3.0, will involve building 88 more homes. Housing options will consist of a mix of two-story town houses, single-level houses and apartments in three-story buildings. Additionally, residential parking will be underground to maximize the community’s green space. The second phase is also going to include the community center building and a childcare facility in its construction. Every structure in the community is built solar-ready.

The ultimate goal of the project was to design a repeatable model for a net-zero energy housing development, a task which, Preston says, was accomplished.

“The biggest challenge for our team was to design a net-zero energy single-family home that could be built and sold for a reasonable price. The goal for the project was to demonstrate a profitable and therefore replicable net-zero energy residential real estate development. We absolutely met that challenge,” Preston says .

Bainbridge is an ideal location for such an innovative project, because tax rebates in Washington make possible an affordably-priced solar option. This is one of the reasons Preston sees a promising future for Grow and similar green community development in Washington.

“The fact that almost all the homebuyers have chosen the solar option is an indication that the strategy for adding solar that we created with BlueFrog and A&R has been successful and is entirely replicable in other housing developments in the state.”

Installation Notes:

Panel type: 240 and 270W itek Energy
Microinverters: YC200, YC500 APS America
Racking and Mounting: SunModo Racking Systems
Monitoring: APS Energy Communication Unit/Energy Monitoring and Analysis
Output: 2.9 kW to 8.9 kW per housing unit.
Installation Crew: A&R Solar
Installation Dates: June 2012 – ongoing project

Read article here: http://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2014/03/installation-notes-welcome-net-zero-neighborhood/