Many elements of "green building" were included in Sonora Cohousing. This list is not exhaustive, although it provides a good picture of the commitment founding community members made to creating a healthy and resource-efficient community.
Site Green Features:
- Large community garden site included in site plan.
- Retention basins - 100% of stormwater retained on site. Grading done to capture, slow, and harvest rainwater.
- Protected/relocated plants in compliance with the Native Plant Protection Ordinance (NPPO)
- Vegetation that had to be destroyed was shredded for mulch.
- Built on vacant city lot (an "infill" site) - close to services, transportation, and utilities; native desert not destroyed for the development.
- Site layout minimizes auto-related pavement
- Buildings oriented for solar gain in buildings
- Site maximizes opportunities for formal and spontaneous activities (not requiring travel).
- Pedestrian emphasis - reduce emphasis on cars. Parking on periphery.
Common House Green Features:
- Outdoor drying area for laundry
- Gray water system for washing machines
- Solar panels on roof
- Strawbale construction
- Corrugated metal roof
- Sharing of resources reduces the need for each household to have "one of everything"... Less ends up in the trash in the end. More efficient economically.
- Vegetation on the site that had to be removed was shredded for mulch.
- Existing 1940's adobe house was remodeled for a community member home.
- Community recycling area; community composting area in community garden
Green Features of Individual Homes:
- 5/8" drywall instead of standard 1/2" - better sound and thermal insulation
- Insulation upgrade (higher R value; cellulose in walls; BAT in ceiling)
- Solar stubs to roof for future solar water heating
- Units exceed model energy code and have the Energy Star/Energy Advantage designations
- Basements provide space that is easier to heat and cool
- 2"x6" walls provide extra depth for more insulation
- Homes oriented for solar gain
- Programmable thermostats
- Solatubes in most units; some skylights
- "Borrow lights" made of glass block let natural light into interior rooms
- High efficiency A/C units
- Hydraunic heating - home heating based on heat generated by water heater
- Insulation of basement walls with foam
- Upgraded double-pane windows
- Corrugated roofs included to provide cleaner water for harvesting
- Some homes include water harvesting cisterns
- Detention basins hold 100 year storm on site. Reduces flooding downstream, increases soil moisture
- Water harvesting swales and basins included throughout to help water plants
- Water purchased in bulk for savings
- Efficient drip irrigation system
- Low VOC paint
- Lower toxicity mudsills
- Corrugated metal roof yields cleaner water for reuse Some plywood used in place of OSB (or other low VOC wood substitute)
- Low VOC OSB used
- General directive to subcontractors to use the lowest tox option available
- Choices were explored for lower toxicity flooring (e.g., no floor covering - polished concrete, wheatboard, cork, low-voc carpet, etc.)
- Fresh air intake to exchange out interior air (important in closed-in air-conditioned spaces.)