Green living is not just small spaces, eco-friendly materials and gardening — it's also about living in a connected community. Whenever my husband and I have moved, one of the most important features has always been location, location, location. It's crucial for our lifestyle that we be able to get to work easily by public transportation and be within walking distance to shopping, restaurants, farmer's markets and parks. But for the Slow Home, good location not just about proximity to amenities, it's also about the quality of the streetscape.
When making a decision on a new home, location should be one of the largest decision making factors. It not only affects the ease and quality of life, reduce energy and transportation costs and carbon emissions, foster the growth of local businesses and save you lots of time and money in the long term.
- Avoid building on environmentally sensitive sites. This means avoid building a new house on the following land types: land that is at or below the FEMA 100-year floodplain; land that is specifically identified as habitat for any species on federal or state threatened or endangered lists; within 100 feet of any water, including wetlands; public parkland; land that contains "prime soils," "unique soils," or "soils of state significance," as identified in state Natural Resources Conservation Service soil surveys.
- Build homes near or within existing communities. Select properties that immediately borders previously developed land, or build on a previously developed lot. This lets open and undeveloped lands to be left undisturbed, while your new home can help an existing community grow.
- Ideally, choose an 'urban' neighborhood to reduce the dependency or even eliminate the need for a car. According to LEED standards, this means being within a quarter to a half-mile of public transportation, as well as basic amenities such as libraries, schools, parks, groceries, restaurants, bike paths and shopping.
- Pick a neighborhood with walkable streets. This means continuous sidewalks along the majority of residential and commercial streets in the area. It's one thing to be close to amenities, but if there are no sidewalks then it can be a difficult commute.
- Take into consideration the design and atmosphere of the community. Rather than prioritizing large yards, look for lots lined with streets and gardens, which make for a much more pleasant surrounding. Boulevards are great because they put an emphasis on open green space, rather than street space, and provide an additional area outside of your own property's lot for relaxation, play and gardening.
- Front porches and stoops foster an open community and connections. Spending time outside and at the front of your house provides opportunity to meet and socialize with your neighbors and learn about the people who live along your streets.
- If you're unsure about the best locations in your city, try going online. Transit Score, MyNewPlace.com, The Green Maps System and Walk Score are great tools that can help you find a new neighborhood or evaluate the current area where you live.
- Green Your Neighborhood
- Rethinking: Location, location, location
- How Walkable Is Your Neighborhood?
- America's 10 Most Walkable Cities
- Green Mini-Escape: Neighborhood Exploration
(Image: Jesse + Erick | Apartment Therapy)