Solar Energy Finance Option

October 21st, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

Vice President Biden will take some cues from Berkely and institute a financing plan for solar panels linked to property taxes.

This will allow homeowners to get into solar energy and avoid the sizeable upfront costs of the system.

Many of our clients are interested in solar energy but find the initial expense to be too large when added to construction and remodeling costs. Our strategy has been to design “solar-ready”, so the systems could be added at a later date. This financing option may help clear that hurdle. We’ll stay tuned as the story develops….

Link to the San Francisco Chronicle article

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Northfield Cohousing Community is Online!

October 7th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer

Check out the latest at!

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Cohousing in Madison, Wisconsin

October 7th, 2009 by Peter Schmelzer


Last weekend, we visited two cohousing developments in Madison, Wisconsin. This photo shows Arboretum Cohousing, a newish community who hosted the Northfield Cohousing Community‘s contingent of visitors. (Thank you, Arbco!)

I stayed is a guest suite at Arbco. It is part of the “common house”, of which members own an undivided share. The rooms were spacious and clean, and easily accessible to the common house. Gail and Dan gave us a wonderful tour of the facilities and grounds, followed by an informational conversation about startup challenges and a wonderful potluck lunch. I was impressed by their gracious hospitality and relaxed manner, which permeated the place.

Arbco consists of 40 living units, including six single family homes. Structured parking is provided below the living spaces, which was a nice amenity required by the tight urban site. This combination allows the development to nestle into its neighborhood context nicely.


We also visited the Village Cohousing Community, just five blocks away from Arbco.

The village is a bit smaller, with 18 living units, including both existing homes and new townhomes. It was built in the early 1990’s, so Village has had time for landscaping to mature and it, too, blends nicely into the neighborhood. Karen took us through the buildings and shared ideas about how the community handles shared tasks and the like. (Thank you, Karen!)

The trip to Madison was part of the Northfield Cohousing Community’s effort to research cohousing and to prepare for our development in Northfield. These shared efforts help build relationships and understanding among the members as we prepare to design and build a neighborhood for ourselves.

Cohousing offers opportunties for a more sustainable lifestyle and a stronger connection to neighbors.

For more about cohousing, please attend my presentation at Just Food Coop next month:

5 November 2009: “Cohousing Design”
Just Food Coop meeting room, 7:00pm to 8:30pm

You’ll have a chance to meet others interested in cohousing!

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