By Indy Media
Feb 23, 2009
Forty miles north of San Francisco, on the site of a former industrial park, work is underway on the ambitious new Sonoma Mountain Village, a 200-acre development that aims to be truly sustainable. The development is America’s first to be certified as a “One Planet Community,” part of an effort to build healthy and sustainable neighborhoods in the UK, US and Canada. Built through a partnership between sustainability experts BioRegional and the developer Codding Enterprises, the community is based on the premise that an ordinary resident will be able to live there sustainably with little extra effort. Construction of the first homes will begin this year, in the face of a waiting list that is already 3000 people long.
As I drove up on a recent visit, I wondered if it will really be possible for one new development to achieve the goal of providing an effortlessly sustainable lifestyle. The main hurdle: the site is located in Rohnert Park, the sort of small-but-sprawling suburb where driving everywhere is the norm.
Greg Searle, executive director of BioRegional North America, admits that they can’t control the environmental impact residents will have when they leave the development. But the development company has done an enormous amount to improve the efficiency of the systems within the Sonoma Mountain Village, meeting the small community's water, energy and transportation needs with state-of-the-art green features like on-site renewable energy. BioRegional asserts that "every resident is no more than a five-minute walk to groceries, restaurants, day care and other amenities offering local, sustainable, and fair trade products and services."
The village center, which was designed around the reuse of existing buildings, will include a year-round farmers market, grocery stores and other businesses, entertainment options, and telecommuting desks. Alternative transportation services will be plentiful: free bikes, electric vehicles that connect to the smart grid, a biofuel filling station, plug-in hybrid carshare, and carpool concierge services. Thanks in part to lobbying by Codding, a commuter rail line linking the suburb to nearby cities has also been approved, and will be a ten-minute walk from the community. Read the rest here