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Cohousing can be a lab for trying out the latest innovations to help us live lighter on the planet.

— Jenny of CoHousing Solutions & Coho/US

The goal of this year’s National Cohousing Conference was ambitious – building resilient, sustainable communities — yet I felt a universal reaching; so many of us wanting desperately to learn how to be even more climate conscious than we already are. Let’s not forget, living in community has inherent savings that decrease our carbon footprints. Owning just one lawnmower, sharing meals together in the common house (studies have shown a 25% or more reduction in whole-community energy use during common meals — the one big room being lit for the occasion), and not shuttling our kids way across town for play dates.

But that doesn’t stop many from wondering, what else can we be doing, both personally and as a collective to combat climate change? As I mentioned in the Climate Leading Communities network gathering I led on Friday evening during the Conference, communities have the potential to be more than just eco-conscious bubbles, and we have a duty to be beacons for our greater communities. The cohousing model is one worth replicating, and I’d argue that community collaboration is essential if we’re to truly make serious (and necessary) cuts to our climate emissions.

A conference session I co-led with Bryan Bowen of Caddis dove more fully into this discussion, Cutting Edge Resiliency in Cohousing. Bryan lives at Wild Sage Cohousing, a community where he has a 60% smaller carbon footprint than a dweller of a typical subdivision. Exploring climate saving potential through the lens of built cohousing offers insights for both in-process and well-established communities.

Guiding questions:

  • How do we push the boundaries of a sustainable lifestyle, with cohousing being the community-full petri dish?
  • What do we build resilient communities to age in?
  • How does the cohousing model empower our children to make a difference in future challenges they’ll face?
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