As the year winds to a close, I reflect on yet another productive year for Earth Harmony Habitats and its drive toward creating homes that are healthy and comfortable for the residents and the planet! These are homes that are resilient, that harvest their own energy via solar panels, collect all their water through rainwater harvesting, have zero waste through nutrient recycling and grow all their own vegetables through vertical and raised bed gardens.
My thanks go out to the volunteers, advocates and the myriad other invaluable contributors who have taken strides toward manifesting Earth Harmony Habitats during 2016.
Highlights of 2016
- Non-Profit Status?
Our first meeting in the New Year, we looked at ways to insure Earth Harmony Habitats (EHH) are affordable. We looked into developing ourselves as a nonprofit in order to attain land trust funds and offer tax deductions
- Cooperative Model
We also delved into using a cooperative form of ownership for residents of EHH
- Speaker at Living Futures Conference
Applied to be a speaker at the Living Futures Institutes yearly Living Building Challenge gathering.
- Advisory Board Retreat
Tazo (Richard Schafer) dropped in from Arizona to get together with Amanda and David for a short retreat and update.
- Survey Initiative
Amanda started developing a survey to inquire our member’s interest investment and design options.
Facebook site for Earth Harmony Habitats has been reactivated.
- Nonprofit Partnership
Reviewed possibility for taking over an already established non profit
David attended a conference designed for individuals interested in small scale development-perfect for EHH! Tremendous insight offered at this conference on investment strategies, approaches, connections with other social investment development.
- Nonprofit Status
We looked at the effort that would be required to establish a nonprofit by attending a class on developing a non profit, offered by Richard Seymour of Mahonia Consulting.
- Steps entail
- Develop a business model,
- Engage the community,
- Establish a legal structure,
- Hold an organization meeting,
- Establish supporting activities,
- Establish a proforma
- Decided that the effort required to create and maintain such an organization is substantial and beyond the bandwidth of the advisory committee. We are open however to partnering with a 501 c3 non profit
- New Home for Vertical Gardens
Oregon Gardens in Silverton were not able to accommodate the EHH vertical gardens. A new possibility was explored with Jerry Newman of Environmental Learning Center. Looks like a perfect match. More on that this spring.
- Steps entail
- Funding Sources
Amanda explored investment options with New Resource Bank, a social investment bank very much in alignment with the goals of EHH. Also looking at Kiva.org or gofundme.com as alternative strategies.
- Greener Good Game Show
David brought publicity to EHH when he was a contestant for the Green Good Game show, Took first place!
- Speaker at Living Futures Institute
David received approval as a speaker at the upcoming Living Futures Institute’s Living Building Challenged conference. Unfortunately, he will be in Nepal during May. Walker Leiser has stepped up to offer to speak on his behalf!
- Destination Vacation
Discussion with Gerald Lester regarding the possibility of using EHH for vacation destination
- Living Futures Presentation
Walker delivered a lively talk on Earth Harmony Habitats to an intrigued attendance at the Living Futures Institute conference. Was so inspirational, that the city of Shoreline (a suburb of Seattle), asked to meet with EHH to discuss code challenges that EHH and other living building challenges dwellings have.
- Vertical Garden
21 acres has adopted the second prototype and is operating this unit ongoing since 2014.
- Code Proofing EHH
Living Building/Community challenge is a holistic approach to sustainable, self-sufficient homes. Building these in cities and towns involve many areas of code, requiring a multifaceted code approach with many at the table to hammer out an ordinance that would allow a Living Building/Community Challenge residential building(s) to be built affordably. Chris van Daalen, Walker Leiser, Joshua Klyber and I met with Miranda Redinger of Shoreline (a suburb of Seattle) for code proofing Living Building Challenge and EHH. Our discussions revealed that there are aspects of an affordable residential living building that have yet to be addressed by this ordinance, including:
- Water: Black and yellow water utilization on site
- Sewer connection requirements: Chris mentioned that the state of New Hampshire has code that allows for utilization of human wastes on site (http://www.greywater-systems.com/regs.htm).
- Site: Elimination of parking requirements, Zoning for higher density than 6 units/acre (1 unit/6700 sq. ft.)
- Walker Leiser Joins Board
Walker’s long term goal is to create a Living Building that meets the Food, Water, Energy and Waste needs of its inhabitants, and to build it such that it is a better financial decision compared to conventional building methods. Walker is certified Permaculture Designer; Oregon Tilth Certified Organic Land care Practitioner Living Future Accreditation and a Sustainable Homes Professional
Second revision of survey is completed
- Potential Funding Source
Walker discussed project with potential funder
- Shoreline LBC Ordinance
Walker and Chris met with city of Shoreline to represent EHH.
- Octagonal Home, Naudanda, Nepal
- Summer Break
Meet again in September
- Octagonal Hotel, Pokara, Nepal
- Time Line Created
The Advisory Board meeting developed a time line for 3 different approaches
- Plan A
- Nonprofit created or partnered (2 months)
- Seed money secured (2 months)
- Video created (2 months)
- Code proof, complete engineer review of EHH, List house on WIKI House
- Develop ProForma (2 months)
- Develop viable financial strategy (2 months)
- Develop and send out survey (2 months)
- Identify Buyers (2 months)
- Build prototype (6 months)
- Build home (6 months)
- Plan B
- Find a sponsor instead of developing or partnering with a nonprofit (2 months)
- Steps 2-10 similar to Plan A
- Plan C
- Create a funding campaign (2 months)
- Develop a survey (2 months)
- Steps 3-10 identical to plan A except for step 7, completed in step 2 above
This proved to be very helpful in focusing on priorities and to understand the time involved in manifesting EHH
- Missing Middle Housing
David attended an engaging conference about housing, land use and creating communities for all ages.
- Ordinance Draft from Shoreline
This first in the nation ordinance offers incentives for Living Building Challenge buildings.
- New Advisory Board Member
Summer Gorder, President of ecoREAL, LLC, joins EHH Advisory Board. ecoREAL is an innovative sustainable building consulting company with experience guiding public agencies, universities, school districts, corporations and manufacturing facilities toward meeting their Sustainability goals. Her advice adds a lot to the acumen of EHH depth and experience.
- Alternative Strategy
Brad Hippert of Equity Atlas Mortgage Company, met with David and shared an alternative development strategy that helped to decide if EHH wants to build to sell, build to rent, or build for permanent affordability. Below are the various approaches.
Build to sell strategy
- Identify land
- Calculate construction costs: Update proforma, hone it to just discuss ROI for investors for selling home outright), Attain engineering construction calculations completed for the use of non-framed SIPs,
- Attain code approval for the areas interested in. Including:
- permit fees, holding costs, net margin for investors
- Tie up land
- Establish credibility (update Bios), including a reputable and experienced general contractor
- Investment: Identify buyers and get commitment (50K) upfront. Use survey to identify buyers, explore Kickstarter or other social marketing tools
Build to rent strategy
- Steps 1-4 above.
- Investment: Identify investors interested in this type of a design-appeal to those who are aligned with the values attained, thus can tolerate less than maximum returns
From his advice, we created the following strategy: Build to create permanently affordable sustainable housing
- Steps 2-4 above
- Approach Community Development Corporations (CDC) for funding of land and partnership
- Approach Living Futures Institute to investigate funding, partnership
- Approach Center for a Sustainability Today to inquire if land is available for a prototype
- Approach other nonprofits-church?
- Investigate if a kick starter or GoFundMe approach could be used to allow people to contribute to EHH
- New Prospects
Summer is researching if a local church might be interested in partnering with EHH to build sustainable homes that demonstrate responsible stewardship of earth.
The anticipated is developing into a very comprehensive and useful tool. Stay tuned!
- Octagonal Home, Kokethani, Nepal
Thank you for your interest and significant contributions to this journey towards creating homes that flourish within an equitable share of earth’s carrying capacity.
You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. —
R. Buckminster Fuller