One of the greatest challenges facing green building is scalability - sustainable projects must be scalable if they are to replace the unsustainable development that the world is so rife with. The developers of Sonoma Mountain Village in northern California’s idyllic wine country are doing exactly that. The project is not just another energy-efficient home or organic garden amid the ocean of resource-consuming sprawl that still defines most cities - it's a self-contained green Mecca.
Sonoma Mountain Village is envisioned as a place where residents can work, shop, play, and have virtually all of their needs met within a 5 minute walk of where they live. Once construction is complete the community will house 4,400 residents and provide 3,300 jobs. Every home, business, sewer grate, sidewalk paver and street tree is being considered based on energy efficiency and the quality of environment that it will create for residents, native species and future generations.
The developers have focused on building the economic base of the community first. A number of businesses have set up shop, including the telecommunications giant Comcast, who built a zero carbon, LEED platinum facility at the site in 2010. There are 10,000 solar panels on the village’s rooftops already, which generate power for the commercial developments and are enough to sustain 2,000 homes. Home construction will be underway soon, along with a public plaza for farmer’s markets, informal socializing and community events.
Zero carbon and zero waste are two of the ten holy tenets guiding the design and construction of this city on a hill that is emerging just north of the Bay Area’s outermost sprawl. These are the core principles of a One Planet Community, a designation that only a few neighborhoods in the world have achieved. Sonoma Mountain Village was the fourth community in the world to be awarded with the certification, and the first in North America.