Borough’s first cohousing complex

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The families preparing to move into Brooklyn’s first cohousing project are not just a group of community−minded folks. They’re environmentally minded, too.

Brooklyn Cohousing members decided last week to build their new homes in Windsor Terrace in a low energy, environmentally friendly method of construction called “passive housing” — a move they claim would make their new home the “greenest building in New York.”

In cohousing, residents emphasize shared space and social interaction, and keep barriers between their dwellings low.

Passive housing technology, which originated in Germany, utilizes a series of construction techniques — thick insulation, complex doors, etc. — that when combined create a nearly airtight building that is supplied with clean, fresh air.

With such an airtight facility planned, heating and air conditioning is unnecessary beyond minimal levels. Energy use is often a tenth of what it is in an average building, explained Brooklyn Cohousing founder Alex Marshall.

“We’ll not only be the greenest cohousing community in the country, we’ll be one of the greenest buildings of any kind,” he said, adding that the decision came after a unanimous vote by the families expected to move into the converted mattress factory on Eighth Avenue at 19th Street.

Marshall’s group, currently comprising 16 families, made headlines last year when they tried to purchase the former St. Michael’s Church in Fort Greene. The deal for the church fell through when the cost of the purchase kept rising.

They bought their new home in March.

While smaller than the Fort Greene property, the mattress factory will be converted into 30 units of housing as well as a common area, guest rooms, kids room, music room, lounge, workshop and other amenities that the residents — many of whom have a self−professed “creative and cultural bent” — will be sharing.

The first cohousing development was created in Denmark but replicated throughout Europe and the United States. Marshall first hatched his cohousing idea after reading about a similar project.

Construction is expected to begin in September.

While he wouldn’t say what he expected the project to cost, Marshall said that the passive housing initiatives would push up the cost of the multi−million dollar endeavor by one or two percent.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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