City life is old news. Today, a growing number of people are choosing to leave cities and seek a sustainable lifestyle in a more rural environment. In addition to environmental concerns, many other factors are driving this trend, from advances in technology that make remote work possible, to a desire for more autonomy, closer proximity to nature, and the COVID-19 global health crisis. Shifting to a sustainable lifestyle can be a steep learning curve for city slickers and suburbanites, which is why many people are banding together to form sustainable communities in the United States.
What is a sustainable community?
Sustainable communities come in all shapes and sizes and can be found across the United States and the world. While the specifics can differ widely, a sustainable community is essentially a collective of people who join together in a cooperative effort to live a more sustainable lifestyle, sharing information, resources, and common vision or goal. Communities can be based around shared land or living spaces, or, like Kuwili Lani, adjacent parcels of individually owned land located within one community development or neighborhood. Communities can range from luxury green developments to completely off-grid DIY affairs.
What are the benefits of living in a sustainable community?
Depending on what type of sustainable community you choose to live in, there are a range of benefits from financial savings to overall health and wellbeing. Here’s just a few of the perks:
- Savings on utility bills with renewable energy
- Savings on grocery bills when you grow your own food
- Improved mental, emotional, and physical health from proximity to nature
- A greater sense of belonging and social connectedness
- A greater sense of autonomy, security and self-sufficiency
Sustainable Communities in the United States
Here are a few examples of sustainable communities in the United States. From ‘Agrihoods’ to 100% off-grid to luxury green living, there’s something for every budding environmentalist’s taste.
Imagine a community development that was built around a farm, rather than a pool or tennis court. This new type of neighborhood is focused on farm-to-table living in a cooperative environment. Agrihood residents work together to create a sustainable food system for their entire community. It’s kind of like living with a CSA in your backyard. Pretty cool, right?
Learn more about the top 12 Agrihoods in the United States.
Inspired by the communes of the 60’s and 70’s, eco villages are formed by individuals who want to live in harmony with their environment and live a carbon neutral life. Often, eco villages have a set of social or moral values which serve as a foundation for the community. In addition to cooperative agriculture, there is a more collective approach to water and energy systems and sharing of tools and other resources.
See some examples of thriving Eco Villages.
Off-grid communities are primarily focused on energy independence, but often have elements of eco villages and agrihoods too. All energy consumed by an off-grid community is derived from renewable resources, including electricity, water, and heat. Off-grid communities can vary greatly in level of social organization. Some off-grid communities band together to share energy sources, land, and living spaces, while others are made up of energy independent homes on separate plots of land.
Read more about notable off-grid communities in the United States.
LEED Certified Community Developments and Luxury Green Living
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a building certification process developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. A LEED certification indicates a building or community was designed and built to be energy and resource-efficient, but does not have to be off-grid. There are different levels of LEED certification.
LEED certified community developments tend to be higher-end and come with the price tag of luxury green living. These sustainable communities are geared toward people that want to reduce their environmental footprint, but aren’t ready to go totally off-grid or grow their own food. They want to purchase a finished product that is ready to move in.
Check out Yerba Buena – a LEED certified green community development in the San Francisco bay area.
The Foundation for Intentional Communities offers a worldwide directory of hundreds of intentional communities – many of which have some component of sustainable living. You can search for communities by location, type of living arrangement, or other keywords. Kuwili Lani is listed here! This site also has a classifieds section, resources, and online courses on the subject of building and living in intentional communities.
Kuwili Lani – The First Sustainable Community in Hawaii
Located in Laupahoehoe, on the scenic Hamakua Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, Kuwili Lani is proud to be Hawaii’s first sustainable community development powered by renewable energy. Kuwili Lani offers residents the best of both worlds: modern amenities and security features along with sustainable living in a beautiful tropical environment. Our community gives residents the freedom to design and build the green dream home of their dreams and choose the level of energy independence and edible landscaping they want.